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NO.395 05.09.2018

Interdisciplinary Convergence Education Yields ‘1+1=3’

Every year, the College of Politics and Economy names ‘Teaching Fellow’ for an instructor who has demonstrated excellence in teaching skills

In 2015, Professor Jungkun Seo (Department of Political Science) was honored, followed by Professor Yong-Joon Jang (Department of International Business and Trade) in 2016. The two professors, renowned to deliver the best lectures in the College, joined hands this semester to initiate a new Interdisciplinary Convergence Education (ICE) course titled ‘Trade & Politics.’ As the title implies, students of both departments can enroll in this course taught by both Professors Seo and Jang.

Looking through the lens of both trade and politics in assessing the U.S. and China trade war
‘Trade & Politics’ approaches the US-China trade war and the renegotiation of the KORUS FTA through academic theories. Examples of the interaction between trade and politics are identified in the real-life incidents that we see, hear, and breathe every day. The course is comprised of lectures on trade by Professor Jang and lectures on politics by Professor Seo, as well as student presentations and discussions.

Above all else, Professor Jang underscores the fun factor. He said, “When it’s not fun, no matter how beneficial the course, learners will lose focus. To stoke student interest, examples are used and questions are posed to enhance their level of concentration and to link discussions with theories. When students are making presentations or engaging in discussions, I assume the role of a charitable moderator.”

By deepening their specialized knowledge through their major courses, and by experiencing new areas of study in non-major lectures, students are able to expand their spectrum of cognitive reasoning. Incidentally, students tend to exhibit a higher level of interest and concentration when taking non-major lectures.

Haeul Lee (International Business & Trade, ’16) was delighted to take the interdisciplinary course and said, “There is the obvious benefit of learning two perspectives on a single incident. The course helps to enhance my thinking skills, as well as giving more background knowledge.” Minji Kwak (Political Science, ‘16) also expressed her satisfaction in the lectures. She said, “Previously, we were focused on the political perspective, and remained oblivious to its economic impact. Through this course, we are developing the holistic ability to identify multiple interpretations of a single case.”

Students are grouped into teams of five for in-class presentations; each team must have an equal distribution of both majors: political science and international business & trade. The collaboration between two departments have produced high-quality presentations that are more diverse in topics and perspectives.

 


“ICE generates broader knowledge and enhances thinking skills”
Professor Seo claims that “true ICE yields ‘1 +1 = 3’,” provided that one has attained a sufficient level of intellectual sophistication in one’s own major area of interest. Only then can learners truly merge with the knowledge of another field of study, and expect to create synergistic value. Without a strong foundation, any unreasoned attempt to force an insensible convergence is bound to generate adverse effects.

The two professors plan to systematically redefine the course. They will identify areas that require improvement in class materials, presentation topics, and lecture notes. Furthermore, their pedagogical experience will be shared with their peer professors, to encourage their input on creating a better ICE platform.

The College of Politics and Economy plans to establish a new ICE Department in the second semester. Currently, ‘The Market and Government in a Convergence Innovation Society’ is being prepared by Professor Sangwon Lee (Department of Journalism & Communication) and Professor Dohan Kim (Department of Public Administration).

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