By: Jin-Sung Kim and Jae-Won Eom (DG editors)
Thorstein Veblen, famous for writing “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” depicted a conflict between Good versus Evil by drawing humanities-graduate executives as evil and natural science-graduate engineers the good. According to Veblen, it is the engineers who create, produce and progress, making way for the world to the next step. However, the executives who supervise and reign over them are constantly suppressing the creativity and virtue out of the engineers. He emphasizes that the objectives of the executives are to earn money and fill their greed whereas the engineers aim for creation and advancement of the society. Veblen claims that this clash between them will inevitably lead to the devastation of the economy.
Although it may be a bit extreme, the anecdote above clearly states a conflict caused by a distinction in social ranks, which was actually because of the different majors. These days, the common belief is that the humanities-graduates will be the ones to govern over the natural science-graduates. This is not really a false statement because most government officials or CEOs are humanities-graduates. However, it is that much harder to get a job in the society after majoring in humanities. There is a saying in Korea, “Jackpot or go bust,” which means that humanities graduates will either get a decent career or none at all. On the other hand, it is widely known that most natural science majors have a clear path of employment waiting for them. There has to be a reason behind the imbalance of workplace between these two departments of knowledge and the next couple of paragraphs might be able to answer this question for us.
As you all know, higher education is divided into two groups, humanities and natural sciences. Now, how different are the employment rates for each division? Well, if we look into employment rates according to each major in Seoul National University, most of the one’s in front, from 1st to 25th place, are natural science majors. We can only see humanities majors from the 26th. Furthermore, although the number of students recruited in humanities and natural science majors are similar, there are about 150,000 more students applying for humanities majors, making it much easier to enter university for a natural science major.
We can infer from this information that corporations these days require more practical skills that can be put to use in the modern society. In other words, natural science majors have a much broader road to employment than humanities majors. In a situation where there is a shortage of natural science students, an overabundance of humanities students and a social preference of practical expertise for the icing, we can easily conclude that it is obviously much easier for natural science majors to get employed.
Then, why do more students apply for the humanities majors? Students are to choose between the humanities and natural sciences at the end of the first year of high school. The problem is that most students do not have the conviction on what they want to study, what they want to become, and generally their future. Consequently, students use their math grades to choose the path that is going to influence the rest of their life. Students who show over-average math grades tend to go to natural science majors, whereas the rest meaninglessly choose to study the humanities. This is one of the reasons why the unbalance of students in each major occurs.
With consilience of education, however, students will not have to make this vital decision when they are not ready to make one. It gives them more time to define their future life plans, while experiencing different branches of education. Demolishing the wall between the two majors can also enlarge university entrance opportunities. As the division disappears, competitions will become loose. Moreover, students are offered the chance to learn both practical skills and humanities knowledge, supplying more competitive and diverse students into the society.
Now, what about the qualities of employment? Today’s society has become snobbishly sensitive on one’s profession, as it conveys their social statues. Although the vulgar Caste-System of India has been abolished, this new way of looking at someone’s profession is acting just like one nowadays. It started out as capitalism was permeated into the society and became the ruling concept of the community’ actions. The society naturally classified professions into grades, where the major criteria were income, degree of influence and etcetera.
This resurrected “Caste-System” has become visibly ironic. Classification tables of professions made by couple making sites are spread all over the internet. By analyzing four of the couple matching sites, the most favored professions are: judge, public prosecutor, lawyer, doctor, fund manager, analyst, accountant, public civil officer, and so on. Interestingly, most of the professions have roots from the humanities majors. Only one job, doctor, is related to science majors.
Thereupon, while humanities majors are harder to get employed in an ordinary occupation, they are more likely to be socially respected for their job. Science-majors on the other hand can easily get employed, but becoming specialists of their major generally does not make them ranked high in the social system.
Surprisingly, this phenomenon is not based on the division of students. It is a social issue originating from the society itself, but it does give a remark to the division. As mentioned earlier, many people believe that humanities majors lead the society while science majors compose it. Thus, this statement can be another reason why students rush to be humanities-majors, as they desire to become the leaders of the society.
In the modern society, the division of these two departments is losing its vitality and demanding for the consilience of knowledge. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once said, “The key to inventing creative products is in our efforts in trying to stay in the point of intersection between humanities and technology.” However, the reality is that the current educational system is still separating these two fields of expertise. Not only is this system lacking in efficiency and is out of trend, it is also influencing the society.
Starting with causing an unbalanced competition in entering universities, it leads to disproportioned employment problems. Consilience does propose a solution. It is able to neutralize the difference in employment by merging them together, and creating integrated knowledge. Moreover, it talks about the future; it is able to merge humanities and technology to create innovative fruits of education.
The division and consilience of the two majors both have their advantages, but the society we live in today is asking for outstanding individuals who are proficient and well-informed in both humanities and natural sciences. If this trend continues, consilience might just be inevitable, whether we like it or not.
By: Jin-Sung Kim and Jae-Won Eom
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