I write to you as the 19th president of Korean Social Science Research Council (KOSSREC), Jin K. Lee. Since its establishment in 1976 with 15 member academic societies in social science areas such as political science, economics, sociology, and education, KOSSREC has led interdisciplinary research and education through promoting communication and cooperation among various social science fields. In addition, it has contributed to the development of Korean society by holding policy-oriented forums and academic conferences addressing contemporary social issues of Korea from an integrated perspective.
Despite the predominant influence of the West, Korean social science has endeavored for empirical research to establish self-referential theories and methods. It is time for Korean social science to expand its targets of inquiry beyond Korea to include entire Korean peninsula, Asia, and the world. I reckon the Korea Research Foundation has been conducting its Social Science Korea (SSK) program for this purpose. KOSSREC is participating in SSK by assisting activities for promoting outcomes of SSK in the hope of advancing Korean social science.
Recently the Korean social science community has faced a new crisis. Entire social science fields have encountered stagnation in the midst of the government’s continued support of science and technology and the public’s renewed interest in humanities. We should make serious efforts to regain our identity as a field. This makes KOSSREC’s role even more important.
Rapid technological advances in the 21st century make our society change very fast. Robots with artificial intelligence, mobile technologies, IoT (Internet of Things), 3D printing, self-driving cars, and nano- and bio-technologies are predicted to bring about a “4th Industrial Revolution.” The magnitude and the scope of the changes are said to be vastly different from past ones humankind has witnessed in its history. Reduction of jobs and collapse of the middle class may create a crisis in democracy while there will be positive outcomes such as increased efficiency. As social scientists, we should be more vigilant in studying such changes and analyzing their effects on our society.
KOSSREC will contribute to overcoming the current identity crisis in the field as well as to making Korea a beneficiary of the 4th Industrial Revolution by promoting interdisciplinary research and providing forums for lively discussions.
We hope for your continuous guidance and encouragement.
Jin K. Lee
President of Korean Social Science Research Council