"Where are we heading in the era of Post-liberalism?"

2016-04-05 Academic

On January 14, 2016, the last day of Kyung Hee Global Forum for Humanities and Social Studies (GFHSS), Professors Ram Cnaan of the University of Pennsylvania, John Ikenberry of Princeton University, and Jang-jip Choi of Korea University joined in a panel discussion.

Under the theme "Where are we heading in the era of Post-liberalism?," the eminent scholars discussed what type of values we need to seek in order to have a sustainable future. The GFHSS forum in its inaugural year surveyed major issues of the so-called "era of crises" such as religious fanaticism, international terrorism, environmental crisis, climate change, resource depletion, and sustainable development for four days from January 11, 2016, on the Seoul Campus.

"Hope for future is feasible only through liberal democracy"
Professor Taek-Gwang Lee at the Department of Global Communications acted as the moderator for the discussion. In his opening remark, Professor Lee briefly touched on many problems liberalism is currently faced with and asked, "Is it worthwhile trying to redefine liberalism?" Professor Ikenberry answered, "Democracy coupled with liberalism gave rise to the idea of popular sovereignty, which is the most important foundation of modern politics. It is therefore very much worthwhile to reexamine and redefine the idea of liberalism in our time. Although liberalism is currently at a crisis, there is no better alternative as the overarching political principle for modern societies. Through the great turmoil and suffering of the 19th and the 20th centuries, the idea of democracy evolved into liberal democracy, which underpinned the flourishing era of prosperity and progress that followed. As our ancestors did, so should we. We should study and redefine the idea of liberal democracy for our world and search for the hope of future with it."

"Sound civil society is the foundation of democratic government"
Professor Lee then asked, "Korea has successfully introduced liberalism and democracy, and the government has been making conscious efforts to build civil society. What are the roles of civil society under a democratic government?" Professor Cnaan answered, "Freedom of speech is only possible in a democracy, and there are many countries do not yet afford their citizens this essential political right. Seeing that the Korean public can freely criticize the government and assemble to express their ideas, it is clear that the democracy and liberalism in Korea have made great progress." He then related his experience on lecturing at Kyung Hee in the Global Collaborative Summer Program and said, "While having a discussion on what they would like to achieve through prosocial organizations, I was favorably impressed by the strong will and social consciousness of many students who were seriously engaged with social problems. Students like them will grow to be the cornerstone of sound civil society in Korea, which in turn will strengthen the democratic governance in the country.”

Translated by Tae Hun Kim

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