By Jong-Seo Park (DG editor-in-chief) Eui-Jun Song (DG editor)
The tradition of pursuing integrated studies of humanistic introspection about human’s ethics and philosophical research about nature vanished in the 19th century. In the beginning of 20th century when occidental studies surged, it was already common to think that yangban, or Korean aristocrats should study law or politics, instead of engaging in the industries as it is written in the newspaper Hwangsung Shinmun in 1909. Also in the Japanese colonial era, the people of Chosun were so indifferent about science that in 1920s there were writings in journals such as Gaebyuk and Byeolgungon grieving over students and teachers who disdained natural sciences and only attempted to study humanities.
After liberation, as Korea employed scientific technology as a tool for economic development and used humanities ideologically, natural sciences only got distant. Critical humanists concentrated on criticizing dictatorial government’s justification of themselves in the name of economic development, and kept aloof from science, which was considered to have taken a great part in the economic growth.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, Korea’s conscious humanists resisted or at least took a critical stance on autocracy, growth, development and scientific technology, while scientific technicians who only got narrow education on their major were apathetic towards other issues, especially social ones. In this situation, the gap between natural sciences and humanities were no longer a dispute of priority as the knowledge of culture but developed into a serious aspect of confrontation surrounding the set of values determining which direction individual’s life and society should progress to.
Still, professors who teach humanities in universities emphasize that the bottom line of humanities is to give answers to questions such as “How should we live?” or “Which life is worthy of being called ‘right?’”. Of course, this is partially reasonable. However, the problem is that in modern days, education of humanities such as history, philosophy, and ethics is just not enough to get a meaningful answer to a sophisticated question like “How should we live?” In order for us, who need to live through this unsettled technological society, to properly answer to this question, it is necessary to understand more about fruits of science, which will allow us to have a better grasp of humanity, the relationship between scientific technology and society, and characteristics of scientific attitude and means of research. While sticking to the dichotomy that humanities deal with values and science deals with facts, both humanities and science are no other than a cripple.
Recently, however, Korea is beginning to keep up with the trend of consilience. In 2006, not long after the beginning of 21st century, the declaration of the crisis of humanities started by the professors of Humanities College at Korea University extended to the Humanities Week, and there were some fresh voices claiming that humanities should embrace natural sciences to overcome the crisis. Meanwhile, several academic societies including Seoul National University held forums and symposiums about consilience and communication between disciplines.
Nowadays, even students’ curriculum is headed toward consilience. It’s a measure that combines humanities and natural sciences into one which currently splits students’ future career in two. It is still uncertain if the merge is truly a method for practicing consilience. Still, this could be seen as carrying on Seoul National University’s legacy of natural sciences-humanities combined entrance examination which took place a few years ago and the proof of our society that it is aiming to tear down the barrier between disciplines.
Peter Drucker, a master of business administration once said “21st century is going to be an era of knowledge, and in the era of knowledge, there is no end to learning.” Now, as a tenth of 21st century has passed, it is necessary for us to contemplate about which attitude we should have in order to survive the era of knowledge.
Hong, Seong-Wook.(2007). Natural Sciences and Humanities of 21st Century Korea. In Jae-cheon Choi & Il-Woo Ju. eds., Consilience of Knowledge: Beyond the Border of Studies. pp. 273-297.eum books.
By Jong-Seo Park (DG editor-in-chief)
& Eui-Jun Song (DG editor)
The pleasant scent of autumn has spread and the campus of Dongtan Global High School is enveloped in cool wisps of the fragrant harvest breezes of fall. Just as the nearby rice fields have grown into sturdy, golden stalks so too has our school matured and taken firm root in the city of Hwaseong.
With the school’s first commencement ceremony last winter, sending the graduates far and wide to make their mark in the world, already another group of seniors are about to take one of the biggest exams of their lives. My fellow students are eager to honor the name of the school, and the new recruits are more competent than ever. The campus has been blooming with special events, academic challenges, and new clubs and activities where students have been showing their persistence, creativity, and expertise. It seems DGHS is ever more fruitful with every year that passes.
In the third publication of the Dongtan Globe, we have taken strides to meet the rising standard of the school. The reporters and editors have tried to deliver the best of their work, striving to meet the high expectations. In consequence, we were able to present more extended and finer edition to you. And I, the third chief editor, will return the honor to the hard-working members of the the Dongtan Globe and contributors who willingly participated in the publication.
Previously, feature stories focused on topics associated with the annual Joint Academic Conference of Global High Schools. This year, however, we’ve taken a different approach and will be discussing the controversy regarding integration of the liberal arts and natural sciences tracks in South Korean high schools.
The topic is fairly recent as the Ministry of Education is starting to implement education of no border between natural sciences and liberal arts. There are many controversies whether the integration is necessary or not. In our feature, we cover various arguments and facts about the issue. Specifically, the feature discusses the issue first in the historical context and then through its progression of current decision to integrate the tracks. Within this discussion, the feature spotlights the concept of consilience of Edward O.Wilson which will help readers to understand the ideology behind the track integration argument.
In addition, we’ve included a wide range of articles covering other domestic and international issues such as Crimean crisis, school life including articles about an invited professor and a reporter, and even reviews of some recent music, book, and movie.
As usual, we thank you for your continued support and readership and hope that you enjoy this year’s edition of the Dongtan Globe.
By Jong-Seo Park
Korean high school education has been offering distinct curriculum tracks for the last several decades: liberal arts and natural sciences. As of 2018, however, those two separate tracks are supposed to be integrated into one comprehensive track. Debates are raging surrounding this issue. While advocates argue that the integrated curriculum be implemented in order to produce creative talents fitting the consilience spirit of the 21st century, opponents argue that it is premature to decide that now. Rather, they insist, all we need to do is strengthen basic skills under the current split curriculum.
I believe an integrated curriculum is eventually the right choice to make. This academic approach is already a mainstay of many developed countries such as the United States and most western European countries. The underlying philosophy behind their policy is that both quality of living and competitiveness can be enhanced only when scientists are armed with humanities refinements and entrepreneurs possess good knowledge of natural science.
I support this approach, and believe additionally that humanistic values are closely associated with cultural industries, and developing them in each individual will be beneficial to society. The general idea behind cultural industries is that popular culture produces cultural goods such as printed media, music, television, film, as well as crafts and design. They are knowledge-based and labor-intensive, and not only create employment and wealth, but also drive the norms of a particular society. Thus, in nurturing creativity, analysis and reflection, and fostering innovation, societies will maintain cultural diversity, enhance economic performance, and advance the sciences while also promoting sustainable, peaceful societal standards.
The essential point is that technology alone cannot lead itself to beneficial cultural industries. That is, we cannot produce a movie only with quality cameras, audio, and special effects. The storytelling is indeed crucial to the development of an entertaining and profitable film. In addition, a film that is only entertaining and profitable is also not necessarily a promotion of wholesome societal norms. The story must also celebrate, at least subtly, positive cultural goods to build enthusiasm for positive cultural attitudes such as cooperation and sustainability. Steve Jobs might be a genius, but he is not supposed to create iPhone all by himself. In the modern world, cooperation of the humanities and the sciences is integral to success. And being successful is not just about profitability, but about creating sustainable societies.
Thus, an individual who has built an upright character is one who is not only a master of formulas and rules, but also an engine of creativity and innovation, based on cultural norms which promote peace, cooperation, and sustainability. This is the reason why we study the humanities.
By SangYol Cheong