The participants discussed about the Humanitas College’s unique Core Curriculum, civic education, and writing programs.
Three semesters have passed since the founding in March 2011 of Kyung Hee University’s Humanitas College. A roundtable discussion was held in the Main Conference Room of the University Administration Building on the Seoul Campus on July 13, 2012. In attendance at the roundtable were President Inwon Choue, Humanitas College Rector Jung-il Doh, Humanitas College Student Council Chair Jihye Kim (Department of Philosophy), University News reporter Songi Lim (Department of Journalism and Communication), Sungkonghoe University Professor Minwoong Kim, Seoul National University Professor Sang-Hwan Kim, and Ewha Womans University Chair-Professor Jae-cheon Choi.
Review of past accomplishments, creation of a roadmap for the future.
Founded with the intention of revolutionizing liberal education in the university, Humanitas College emphasizes a comprehensive approach to liberal arts that transcends the boundaries between the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Roundtable participants discussed the current state of instruction at Humanitas College including the Humanitas College’s unique Core Curriculum, civic education, and writing programs. They also discussed Humanitas College’s achievements, remaining challenges, and plans for the future.
President Inwon Choue spoke about the “Bridge Year Program” at Princeton University that allows incoming students to delay their studies for a year so that they have the opportunity to engage in programs that address various global issues such as climate change, human rights, peace, and clean water. He expressed his hope that Humanitas College will become an institution that “provokes students to question ‘the what and why’ of the subjects that they study” and that it will “connect university and civic education in a creative manner that can be a paradigm for ‘excellent education’ that enables collective thinking on the future of the individual, of nature, and of civilization.”
Calling attention to the need for liberal arts education at Korea’ s universities
Preceding the discussion, Rector Jung-il Doh introduced the achievements of Humanitas College and a roadmap for its future development. According to Rector Doh, “Humanitas College is an unprecedented educational system which passed through an experimental stage in 2011 and is now in a transitional stage this year. Humanitas College will becomestable and mature in the following year.” Humanitas College’s greatest achievement, according to Rector Doh, was the change in perception concerning liberal arts studies and the new stress on the autonomous participation by students in reforming university education and creating an academic-oriented atmosphere on campus.
Student Council Chair Jihye Kim and University Newspaper reporter Songi Lim communicated student opinions about Humanitas College and suggestions for future improvements. Concerns included the length and difficulty of readings in the core curriculum and in textbooks, the need for support for onsite civic education projects, and the need to move away from grading on a curve in the practical applications courses.
Responding to student critiques about the difficulty of the core curriculum readings, Rector Doh pointed out that the focus on test taking for college admissions in Korea’s high schools and the usage of on line chatting and reading has created an environment that makes it difficult for students to concentrate on assigned readings for extended periods of time. He urged that “not just universities, but all of society, must take initiative in finding the solution to this problem.”
Humanitas College: Taking the first steps towards producing world citizen for the 21st century
“Humanitas College has led professors to create an academic community which, in turn, has inspired students to create an academic community as well,” noted Professor Minwoong Kim of Sungkonghoe University. “The staff of the university also is forming a community which, when combined with public awareness about the importance of education and civil engagement, will enable Humanitas College to transform Korean society.”
President Choue called for even greater improvements in Humanitas College that would allow students to take pride in learning at Humanitas College and professors to consider teaching at Humanitas College an honor. He suggested that both Korean and international faculty should participate actively in leading the way to the future of liberal arts studies in Korea and the world. President Choue proposed utilizing the online infrastructure offered by Kyung Hee Cyber University as a means of connecting with the world’s scholars, professionals, artists, and practitioners to “open up a wide range of possibilities, to globalize Humanitas College’s liberal studies, and to create a global community of awareness which will promote excellence and eminence among faculty and students necessary for the world’s citizens in the 21st century.”