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dongtan globe

Crisis of the Humanities

Sae-Yeon Ahn (DG reporter)

Numerous articles over the last few years have been describing ‘humanities’ as ‘crisis’ or ‘deadlock’ and so on. Following this trend, universities across the nation are hasting to merge or to shut down unpopular humanities departments. For example, Bae Jai University which is well known for producing top literary figures such as poet So-Wol Kim and linguist Si-Gyeong Ju, have recently announced that they will merge several humanities departments. Another example is the Hannam University reporting their plan to eliminate humanities departments which received the poorest scores in internal evaluation.

 

This phenomenon can be explained by the employment rate of graduates of humanities related major such as literature, philosophy, history and more. According to a survey by Job Korea, 70.3% of respondents who graduated with humanities-related degrees said their major did not help them get a job. Especially due to the high unemployment rate, popular majors became majors that actually help getting a job like engineering and industrial management.

 

The condition is even worse for those who want to do the literary, music, and artistic works which are the real meanings of humanities. Even though there are naturally talented and popular writers, artists and musicians, most of them are not able to earn their living. The very few who become superstars are very well rewarded, perhaps more than other professions. But almost all the others ̶ poets, novelists, actors, singers, artists, and so on ̶ must either have a partner whose income supports them or a “day job” to pay their fundamental bills. Even writers who are regularly published by major houses or win major prizes cannot always live on their earnings. So what’s the solution?

 

The fundamental problem behind the crisis is that the humanities have lost their true meaning. They have lost their desire to communicate with humans as spiritual beings. There is no literature, only texts linked to another connected to other texts. So to flip this trend, we need a new program to develop a more attractive, appropriate and future oriented humanities. But what should we change? The humanities should not limit their opportunity to scholarship, but rather seek to create their individual ways of changing what they study. They should have a practical plan in order to transform knowledge into productive thinking and creative action.

 

Another major problem behind the crisis of humanities is a public structure that makes its students compete all the time, regardless of what subject they take. While natural science is generally specialized in their own main field, humanities deal with subjects even if it’s not related to your future. Myeong-Kwan Kang, a professor at Busan National University mentioned, “The current educational system deprives students of opportunities to study humanities and the unfulfilled desire to study the subjects resurface as they get older, which is ‘unnatural’.”

 

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” This may be the answer to the current crisis the humanities are going through. Knowledge, which is the main function of natural sciences, repeats the remaining world. On the other hand, imagination creates a world that never existed before. This kind of innovation should be implanted in the humanities.

 

 

Sae-Yeon Ahn (DG reporter)

dongtan globe

Strong Stride toward Excellence

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
DG editor-in-chief

 

The Humanities Matter

 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
Principal, DGHS