Korea University’s office overseeing the Initiative for College of Humanities Research and Education (hereafter, the CORE Office) worked on various programs with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) from March 2016 to February 2019, with the aim of strengthening the capabilities of undergraduate students in terms of familiarising themselves with a range of subjects in the humanities. The newly-introduced concept of combined theoretical and practical courses was well received by students. The new concept entailed taking lectures out of the classroom and combining them with practical training for students. And by signing MOUs with various business entities, the university sought to extend the range of opportunities for students to participate in university-industry projects. Furthermore, an overseas internship program and special lectures given by experts hosted by Koreanisches Kulturzentrum (the Korean Cultural Center at the Korean Embassy in Germany) not only broadened the academic spectrum available to students but also enhanced their understanding of practical business issues. They were also able to access career consulting workshops, a variety of lectures and field trips.
The ‘One Book, One Campus' (OBOC) project, in particular, was one of the most sought-after initiatives by students. The aim of the project was for students to participate in various programs which were associated with a book selected by the students themselves. Every semester, students chose a book in the field of the humanities, read it, and participated in the associated programs, through which they intensified and broadened their knowledge of the humanities. Those programs were designed to be compatible with each other, a consideration which attracted more attention and a great response from participants. Students who initially did not clearly understand the aim of the project learned how to immerse themselves in humanities subjects by attending special lectures by experts, by participating in the OBOC film festival, or by joining in discussions held as part of the project. Small-group meetings autonomously organized by students, in particular, tended to expand the spectrum of themes discussed, as did attendance at related seminars and field trips to locations associated with the project. Their proactive participation allowed students to gain hands-on experiences, resulting in higher quality work on their part. The OBOC project was all the more meaningful in terms of its goal of extending the appreciation of the humanities as it also welcomed the participation of graduate students and even local residents. Even since the close of the CORE Initiative, the OBOC project has continued as part of the National University Innovation Support Project, and is still ongoing this year.
The CORE Initiative encouraged students to conduct educational experiments by designing their own classes and participating in practical training courses, without worrying about grades. There is no doubt that the participants gained unforgettable experiences and built long-lasting memories from those programs.
(Data provided by the Office for the National University Innovation Support Project at the College of Liberal Arts)
[One Book, One Campus, Presenting a New Concept of Learning]
Veritas Forum: Reading ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ with a professional instructor
Students’ Autonomous Small Groups: Study groups organized by students. Some groups selected for field trip to provincial areas in Korea, and given support
OBOC Special Lecture given by Experts: Lecture given by an expert on Hannah Arendt
OBOC Film Festival: Free screenings of movies about Hannah Arendt and panel discussion with movie critics
OBOC Overseas Field Trips: Field trips to the European and Asian regions related to OBOC themes
OBOC EXPO: Expo held to illustrate and promote the achievements of the OBOC project
A Year When I Met the Broader World and the True Me
Joo-hyun Nam (Department of Japanese Language and Literature, visiting research student at the University of Tsukuba)
Thanks to the CORE Initiative, I went to the University of Tsukuba in Japan as a visiting research student. It was only for a year, but it was long enough for me to learn many things. Meeting students from other countries naturally broadened my perspective. As a visiting research student financially supported by the university, I had to design my own learning program and schedule, which allowed me to have various experiences. Unlike Tokyo or Osaka, Nagoya, where the University of Tsukuba is located, is not very a popular destination for Korean people. With little knowledge about the city or about Aichi Prefecture, I was curious about the local dialect of the region. This curiosity led me to survey how people in Aichi Prefecture have utilized their dialect in promoting their region. When we are little, we tend to have a prejudice against people from other cultures based on what we have learned from various books, including textbooks. The knowledge we gain from textbooks is for the most part correct and accurate, but we cannot ignore the fact that our prejudices confine us to what we know from these textbooks. While staying in Nagoya, I realized that when it comes to generalizations about people and culture, we should be prudent. Of course, as a humanities major, generalization is one of the thought processes that I need to foster. However, extra care should be taken before drawing a general conclusion from limited evidence. I will hone this and other lessons I took from my days in Nagoya in my future studies.
It's Hard to Do Well from the Start, but This Doesn't Justify Prevarication.
Yeo-sun Kim (Department of German Language and Literature, overseas internship participant)
To be honest, before I spent some time at the Korean Cultural Center in Germany, I had many worries about my future career.
We ran a program for visiting German elementary school students, to give them a glimpse into the Korean language, Korean calligraphy, and traditional Korean music, this last through a performance incorporating a gayageum, a traditional Korean instrument. During this period, I sensed the full range of my potential. With the students, I discovered that I was perfectly suited to be a teacher. And when I tidied away and lent books at the center's library, I observed my own work as a librarian. Then too, I felt as if I was working as a secretary when I sat at the reception desk, welcoming visitors, connecting phone calls, and promoting exhibitions and performances. And then I pictured myself as a professional writer as I saw myself writing succinct official letters giving the gist of relevant points or the introduction to musical performances. I also worked as an amateur photographer at photo booths and event venues. I translated news articles into Korean from German and I also did graphic design work, arranging photos and phrases on event posters and brochures. Last but not the least, when President Moon Jae-in visited Germany, I was in charge of managing the schedules of news correspondents and coordinating the performers for traditional Korean shows that were to be put on. At that time, I was akin to a diplomat.
There has been no other internship which made me realize how much I had to learn, but at the same time how many challenges I was capable of taking up. The internship allowed me to gain invaluable experiences which completely changed the way I think about new tasks, as someone who used to think perfect readiness was a prerequisite before starting anything. Those challenges made me a stronger and more responsible person than before. I also learned how to overcome my fear of learning new things.
Inspiring Moments in Confucian Philosophy Class
Dae-yeong Kwon (Department of Russian Language and Literature, participant of the Veritas Forum)
From the Veritas Forum, which is a humanities course centered around reading the classics, I wanted to find answers to complicated issues that had suffocated and befuddled me for a long time. There was no tight class schedule, which thankfully allowed me enough time to understand the subjects I was dealing with for the first time in my life. Students, including me, were happy to have such a great chance to learn without feeling pressure from exams and grades. I believe I was able to complete the course because it was not a mandatory, regular one. It was my first time to learn about Mencius, but I could focus on the original texts without needing to interpret them in a modern way, in other words I could let them breathe. I had latitude to peruse my favorite phrases over and over again. The autonomy given to me made me completely enthusiastic about studying more about the original texts of Mencius. Some people say that the classics should be regarded as the roots of our life. Texts that have stayed with us for such a long time must have something to offer to modern society, and the answers to questions in our daily life. Of course, there is no compulsion to accept those answers. Mencius lived in the past, and I am living my life in the present. What I am trying to say is that phrases and thoughts in Mencius' work have comforted me and sometimes provided me with guidance in my life. The phrases and ideas I learned from Mencius, which placed an emphasis on plumbing the full depths of our consciousness, have shown me the direction I should take. His phrases were friends I could see any time without feeling any reluctance or sense of obligation. “The Humanities are built from stories about people, and learning should not be limited to classrooms and textbooks. We learn the most from interactions with others.” This is what my professor emphasized many times, and it's something I carry with me.
Experiencing the Banality of Evil through the Presence of History
Seung-ju Lee (Department of History, participant in the OBOC Project)
I participated in the One Book One Campus (OBOC) program. The book selected for the program was ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’, by Hannah Arendt. As part of the program, I went on a field trip to Eastern Europe, including Prague in the Czech Republic and Krakow in Poland, from January 5 to 11, 2018. The aim of the trip was to visit some of the historic sites which served as exemplars for Arendt of what she called “the banality of evil”. During the 7-day field trip, I visited historic sites that I knew only from books. I had learned about the Holocaust from reading ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ and other texts, but what I knew was solely abstract and superficial. Visiting the actual sites which led to Arendt's insights finally allowed me to assimilate what I had learned from books with the reality she was drawing on.
The greatest benefit of the OBOC program for me was that I was given a chance to think more deeply and to study further. People often say that the reason we learn history is to prevent errors and mistakes from recurring, which sounds quite clichéd. But if we are asked whether we have ever made the same mistakes over and over again, would we be pleased to have to answer that we have? Just as people need to avoid the same mistakes, so do societies. Physical assaults or massacres are not usual these days, but there are still minorities who are scapegoated, just as they were in the past.
Through the OBOC program, I had a chance to compare the Holocaust carried out by the Nazis with the violence and hatred of today. I want to further develop what I learned and experienced in the program and let many others know more about victims of discrimination. I want to make the world a better place where every human being is treated equally.