University is the last door before entry to the real world. It can efficiently develop one’s competence based on basic education learned in lower educational institutes like elementary, middle and high school. Thus, a university’s educational environment is very important, and the critical element that determines the educational environment is the curriculum. In March edition of How About You, the Argus listened to professors and students’ thoughts about HUFS’ humanities-focused curriculum with regards to the 4th industrial revolution. It was divided into two main opinions. One puts stress more on a humanities-focused curriculum emphasizing the importance of humanities. Another argued that change in the curriculum according to social change is more important. Although there was a fine difference in terms of emphasis, both sides ultimately proclaimed the need and importance of convergence education. The Argus analyzed whether HUFSans could grow up into converged talents contributing to society with the current curriculum.
In a 2011 thesis “An Analysis of the Structural Characteristics of the Major Curriculum of Universities in Korea,” the curriculum consisted more of major courses than liberal arts courses and the influence of sub disciplinary areas was great in the composition of the curriculum because the major curriculum centers on studying an “intensive major.” This is also true of HUFS.
According to the diploma distribution chart in the course book for the 2018 first semester, 50 credits are required for choosing a minor or dual majors, and 70 credits for choosing intensive majors out of a total of 134 credits. That respectively is about 37 percent and 52 percent of the total credits required for graduation, which shows the influence of a major that is determined when students enter the university.
In addition, HUFSans, excluding students in a college of education, must take dual major, minor, or intensive major courses with the exception of transfer students, military students, and students who entered school as a foreigner. Forty-two credits for dual majors account for 31 percent out of 134 total credits for graduation, which has as much influence as a major. A dual major system eases a bias towards one’s major, and liberal arts can fill even what a dual major cannot handle. Furthermore, schools can enrich the learning environment of their students by providing them with lectures or seminars.
Constrained choice of dual major
HUFS’ majors are limited to the humanities and that can block the opportunities of students to choose dual majors and lower their career prospects.
HUFS was established by Dr. Kim Heung-bae who extolled the importance of language education and fostering human resources that would spread around the world to enrich the devastated nation right after the Korean War. True to its name, Hankuk Foreign Language University (HUFS in Korean) is based on its educational goal of fostering foreign language specialized human resources. In 1954, it was established with the Department of English Linguistics, French, Chinese, German, and Russian.
Due to the nature of HUFS, majors are mostly constrained to languages. As of the first semester of 2018, the total departments or divisions on Seoul Campus and Global Campus are 78. Among them, language related departments total 46, which accounts for about 58.97 percent; humanities and society-related departments including colleges of education, Division of LD (Language and Diplomacy), LT (Language and Trade), and International Sports Leisure is total 21, accounts for about 26.92 percent. Add these all together, and language, humanities and society-related departments or divisions account for approximately 85.89 percent. On the other hand, science and engineering-related departments or divisions total 11, which accounts for about 14.10 percent. This is less than 1/6 of the total departments or divisions, and we can see that there are a few majors that are classified as natural sciences. In other words, it is clear that the field of study is mainly limited to the humanities.
Professor of the Graduate School of Education, Lee June, said, “It is true that students have a narrow choice of dual majors over other collegiate universities since majors mainly related to languages are available at HUFS.”
HUFSans can choose dual majors both on Seoul Campus and Global Campus.
However, the most serious thing is the fact that 11 science and engineering related major classes are all on the Global Campus. Students from Seoul Campus are reluctant to study at the Global campus because of the round-trip distance of about four hours. Also, there are no protections regarding grades for students who originally study in humanities related majors if they double major science and engineering related major.
The curriculum centered on certain majors such as foreign language majors is designed to produce people with uniform expertise. This can result in students not having the opportunity to consider different career paths.
Lack of liberal arts courses regarding natural sciences
Students who did not choose one of the natural sciences as a part of their dual majors have to acquire scientific knowledge instead through liberal arts courses. However, HUFS has fewer liberal arts course to raise scientific thinking.
As of the first semester of 2018, the “science and technology” section, which is science-related liberal arts, has 20 subjects out of 253 total subjects. That accounts for about only 7.9 percent of all liberal arts subjects.
According to the course book of the first semester of 2018, students who entered the school in 2016 or before have to take at least one lecture from each of five sections (language and literature, culture and arts, history and philosophy, science and technology, human and society). Thus, students must take at least one lecture regarding science and technology. However, students who entered school in 2017 or later have to take at least one lecture from four sections among the same five sections. Hence, if a HUFSan excludes the ‘science and technology’ section, one can graduate without taking any scientific lectures.
According to Hong Won-pyo, dean of Minerva College and Professor of Division of Language & Diplomacy, the reason of this change is the need for the humanities. On Dec. 2016, HUFS was consulted by Korea Institute of Basic Liberal Arts and there were recommendations made to add lectures concerning the humanities. It said there are so many HUFS’ liberal arts course that are major related. The CORE Business division made a similar request so the core human foundation section was newly established in 2017, so this inevitably led to a reduction in elective liberal arts courses,” he said.
It cannot be said that scientific ability developed through the humanities is the same as from studying the natural sciences. This does not help increase competitiveness but actually goes against the times. Also, there is no science-based basic liberal arts courses at HUFS.
HUFSans will live their whole life with scientific knowledge learned under the injectional training from middle and high school. Studying at HUFS, whose curriculum is focused on the humanities, is like losing the opportunity to receive a convergence education. This can affect the recruitment of competitive students in the future, and it will affect the long-term development of HUFS.
Inefficiency of events in comparison with investment
With the importance of science growing, the country had stepped up to support the survival of the humanities. The government started CORE (initiative for College of humanities’ Research and Education) business to protect and develop the humanities, which have been neglected. CORE business is meant to make educational programs for social demands and to expand the opportunities of career choices.
HUFS was selected by the 2016 CORE business. This is a government-funded business for promoting humanities, which is a base study for fostering a convergence of talents among students.
The vision of HUFS’ CORE business is to foster creative and well-rounded students. HUFS manages to advance a basic academic model, global regional studies model, and humanities-based convergence major model.
As part of such projects, the CORE business offers convergence programs like “HUFS Humanities Concert” and “Reciprocal Exchange System of Humanities Lessons.”
However, there are not many students who know about CORE business, and the participation rate is low. Choi Ji-young (Dept. of English Literature and Culture, ‘17) said, “I have no idea what the CORE business is. I’ve heard that it gives some lectures to students, but I’ve never seen it promoted.”
Absence of a protective device for humanities majors in science-related dual majors
According to the Academic Support Center of Seoul campus in the criteria of 2018 first semester, the number of Seoul campus students going to Global campus for dual major is 57 which accounts for about 0.87 percent of the 6479 students who are taking dual major courses.
This is a small percentage. It demonstrates that HUFSans’ availability to double major is constrained to Seoul Campus because of the long commuting distance. Among these students, a number of students with a dual major related to science and engineering is 27 which accounts for approximately 47.36 percent out of 57. It shows that many of students who go to the Global Campus are studying science and engineering-related majors. Still, many students hesitate to study them at the Global Campus not only because of the commuting distance but also because of the absence of a fair grade evaluation system.
However, it said there is no difference in the evaluation method in mixed classes where single major students and dual major students are taking same class. If humanities majored students double major in science and engineering-related major, it is usually hard to adjust. So, students are reluctant to choose science and engineering-related dual majors.
Difficulty of adjusting major and double major credits down
Hong Won-pyo, the Dean of Minerva College and Professor in the Division of Language & Diplomacy, suggested the reason it is hard to designate scientific liberal arts sections as requirements and why the establishment of scientific basic liberal arts courses is not easy.
“First of all, it is difficult to adjust liberal arts credits up because adjusting major and double major credits down has to go through a complex process. It needs an agreement from all the majors and there are many language-related majors in HUFS which usually means more credits are needed to learn those fields of study,” he said.
For this reason, there was another reason scientific basic liberal arts cannot be established. He added that “A lack of sufficient faculty members is also another reason. For example, if the school added one mandatory course, 45 to 50 lectures have to be opened at Seoul and Global Campus each. Securing faculty members for this many lectures is the key and it is closely related to HUFS’ financial problems.”
Lack of concern regarding students who seek to go beyond the divide between the humanities and the sciences
Students think the humanities and natural sciences are totally different fields of study. This is due to their bias that sees them as dichotomous. Jo Young-eun (Dept. of English Literature and Culture, ‘17) said, “I feel that Science and engineering fields are separated a lot from the humanities because it is what humanities majors don’t learn.”
It was a natural result of separating the education of the humanities and sciences within the high school curriculum. Most OECD countries do not separate the humanities and natural sciences in high school. But only Japan and Taiwan are reportedly carrying out a separate system. In the 21st century in the era of convergence, the emphasis is placed on mutual communication between academic fields to foster creative human resources.
So far, the schools in Korea have produced human resources specialized in the humanities or science and engineering. The Ministry of Education, which is aware of its mistake, is moving to deploy software education in elementary and middle schools, introduce a free learning semester system in middle schools, and integrate academic boundaries in high school.
To sum up, the separated education system until now, especially in high school, made students think of the humanities and natural sciences as divided studies. Students who major in the humanities naturally do not have an interest in what they think is unrelated to their field of study.
The substantial effort of school to provide various choices for dual majors
There has to be a protective device in terms of grade evaluation or supplementary lessons for humanities majors who double major in science and engineering-related majors. They have been educated to focus on the humanities in high school and it is certain they will have difficulty handling science and engineering-related knowledge. Thus, the school has to devise a fair grade evaluation system considering them in such mixed classes. However, it has to be only in sophomore courses because there can be a matter of fairness about reverse discrimination.
Or the school has responsibility to provide supplementary classes for them to learn basic knowledge to catch up. It can help them feel that studying unfamiliar material is not so hard. These kinds of psychological devices will affect a lot in choices for those double majoring by removing vague fear felt toward scientific studies.
Plus, if a particular department can be opened, diversity in the choice of dual majors will be increased to some degree. Sogang University is similar to HUFS in that it is a humanities-focuseduniversity. In HUFS, language, humanities and society-related departments or divisions account for approximately 85.89 percent and science and engineering-related departments or divisions accounts for about 14.10 percent.
Similarly in Sogang University, humanities and socially-related departments or divisions accounts for 71.24 percent which number 20 among total 28 departments, and science and engineering-related departments account for 28.57 percent which is 8. HUFS does not have some majors for double majoring compared to Sogang University. They are the “Dept. of Korean Language and Literature, Social Studies, and Mechanical Engineering.”
Lowering major and double major credits and reorganizing the liberal arts curriculum
As addressed prior, lowering major and double major credits is important for increasing liberal arts credits. Of course it is essential to provide an intensive major and double major educational environment. However, increasing liberal arts credits is also important for securing the availability of various fields. Too many credits for majors and double majors can be an obstacle for students’ access to various career paths.
Based on increased liberal arts credits, reorganizing liberal arts courses is fairly important. Adding basic liberal arts such as computational thinking or software education is needed. Also, there is a need to assign at least one lecture per five sections as before. If lowering the process is impossible, the school at least must make students take one lesson or more in science and technology sections. This is solution that school must consider.
HUFS ranked 11th in the QS World University Ranking of 2017. The Argus examined the curriculum of the seven other schools ranked above HUFS excluding science-focused Universities such as KAIST, POSTECH, and GIST. The schools ranked above HUFS are Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University, Sungkyunkwan University, Hanyang University, Kyunghee University, and Ewha Womans University. Among them, six out of seven have assigned science and engineering-related liberal arts courses as mandatory. Also, two of those six already set software education courses as basic mandatory courses.
Increasing students’ access to various converged programs
Of course students are not familiar with converged programs which will be helpful to them because of their prejudice, which is learned deeply during their high school years. However, the promotion of programs can maybe get rid of their dichotomous thinking and increase interest instead. The promotion of such thinking is insufficient presently. If there is no appropriate promotion of such programs, there will be no students participating in that and programs will turn into white elephants. Thus, promotion through student media which is active on SNS like Facebook and Instagram could be effective. Promotion has to include brief information about lectures or interesting images.
Another solution is to create 1 credit pass or fail liberal arts courses that combine interesting themes from various fields and to encourage voluntary participation. Liberal arts course like this will provide easy access to converged programs, seminars, and lectures.
Do you think HUFSans can grow up into converged talents? There are high quality advanced language programs and various humanities courses in HUFS. However, there are some limits in HUFS’ curriculum in that double major choices are narrow, liberal arts courses are concentrated on humanities, and various events are useless in comparison with the investment. We have to look closely at the curriculum in which we can grow up before going into the real world. As a HUFSan, you have to evaluate them, not just adjusting yourself to it. You each are the most powerful person who can change everything in HUFS. Be confident and stay awake!
By Seo Eun-sol
Reporter of Campus Section