University of Belgrade

Institute for
Multidisciplinary Research

Project information

Theory and practice of science in society: multidisciplinary, educational and intergenerational perspectives

Project ID OI179048
Project Title Theory and practice of science in society: multidisciplinary, educational and intergenerational perspectives

Project Leader Dr Dragica Trivić, associate professor, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade
IMSI Status Participates

Financial Source Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia

Category of Project Fundamental Research (OI)



From genetics to information technologies and from pandemics to environmental change, scientific expertise is a fundamental tool for understanding, explaining, and predicting the nature of physical and social reality. As science defines the fabric of modern society, it is of consequence to understand how it does so and where its claims to authority reside. This large problematic is of particular importance in the societies undergoing socio-economic transition in which science is often used to legitimate goals whose historical origins often remain hidden or under-explored. This problematic is also of importance in countries in which scientific tradition have been regarded as “derivative” of the sciences of the center. To address these issues, the project’s central goal is to understand how scientific expertise has become manifest in the Serbian, Yugoslavian and post-Yugoslavian context over the period of institutional science practice and science education. Given the dynamic historical change of the region over the last hundred years marked by the deep shifts in the political, ideological and economic infrastructures it is critically important to examine the relationship between these shifts and the scientific practice. The project will in this sense aim to provide a wide-ranging set of empirical studies into the politics of national science and identify local features that mark the intellectual and social identity of science in the region. Finally, it will look at how such features connect (or not) to the national traditions of other European nations and the world.

Project participants will direct their attention to the following main themes within this broad framework. First, they will explore the historical emergence of the nexus between the institutional forms of science teaching, research, and politics during the long twentieth century (ca. 1850 – 2010). Have the abrupt changes in the political structure and ideological forms of social governance resulted in any peculiar forms and result of scientific research and education? Have there been any major discontinuities in the institutional and theoretical attitude toward scientific research and teaching? Secondly, the project participants will work to identify the main theoretical, educational and institutional features of scientific work in Serbia and the region. This effort would provide the basis for evaluating the claims regarding the derivativeness of local science and, more broadly, explore the methodological validity of the concepts of science “diffusion” and the discourse of “development”. Third, the project seeks to provide the first systematic overview of the issues related to the role of public perception of science in national and regional frameworks. The history of socialism in the post World War Two period makes this issue particularly relevant for the Cold War historiography since Yugoslavia belonged to neither of the blocks. Fourthly, we wish to examine the changing social, ideological and gender backgrounds of scientists in the country and region. This will enable a comparative study of local and wider geographies of science and answer the questions about the “uniqueness” of national tradition and its dependence on geopolitical conjunctures during the long twentieth century. Fifth, it is of great policy relevance to inquire into the consequences of the more recent political discontinuities on the status and relevance of scientific education and research. What has been the impact on the brain-drain and the end of Yugoslavia as a multiethnic entity? Finally, we are particularly interested to put all these questions in an intergenerational framework to address the disparities in approaches, work ethics, intellectual attitudes and professional expectations both past and present between the young, middle-aged and senior researchers. We believe that an intergenerational heuristic can provide important insights into science and social authority and historical entity.

From the methodological point of view, we expect our participants to actively promote interdisciplinary framework of research and to adopt an integrative approach to understanding of the social and cultural influence of science in local and wider context. We intend to stimulate an innovative and critical approach to scientific thinking and problem solving. We will also work to promote transferable skills among junior participants by developing relevant ways of using historical and sociological information. As one of the case studies, we will explore the institutional history of applied chemistry in Serbia from 1850s onwards, focusing on the activities of the State Pharmacy, State Chemical Laboratory, Laboratory of the Lyceum, and the Serbian Chemical Society. We will use these institutions as focal points, but will extend our interest into similar institutions devoted to other natural sciences.



From: 01.01.2011.   To: 31.12.2014.




►Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade

►Innovation Center, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade

►Union University School of Computing, Belgrade

►Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade

►Astronomical Observatory in Belgrade



No. Participant Institution
Dr Dragica Trivić, associate professorFaculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade
Dr Zorana Đorđević, research fellow IMSI, University of Belgrade
Dr Danica Stojiljković, research fellow IMSI, University of Belgrade
Dr Bojan Tomić, research fellow IMSI, University of Belgrade
& others.