Students of Interdisciplinary Studies start new majors
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Students of Interdisciplinary Studies start new majors
  • Kwon Yu-bi
  • 승인 2010.03.02 12:08
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        In 2009, colleges of interdisciplinary studies (IS) opened in universities including Ewha, Seoul National University (SNU), Korea University (KU), and Yonsei University. as colleges of law and pharmacy officially changed into graduate schools. Interdisciplinary studies are fields of study that cross traditional boundaries between academic disciplines or fields, as new needs and professions emerge. 
        “The world is rapidly developing beyond the age of knowledge and information. Now the world demands people capable of fusing fields of studies with flexibility and creativity. Because of the sudden changes in our society, establishing Scranton College as a college of IS is a crucial step,” said Professor Kim Hwa-kyung from Ewha Scranton College. 
        Students of most colleges of IS take classes in liberal arts or introductory courses among various majors in freshman year, spending their time in exploring their aptitudes and interests to decide what field of study to take as their major as sophomores. 
        In addition to choosing a major and going their separate ways, students of some universities such as Ewha and KU can take a double major, or track, or an interdisciplinary program that connects more than two fields of studies. 
        Scranton College offers the Scranton Honors Program (SHP) to develop the creativity of individual students through multi and interdisciplinary majors. The SHP includes five major tracks: Critical and Cultural Studies; Digital Humanities; Initiatives in Social Sciences; Science, Life and Society; and Self-Designed Fields. 
        The KU School of Interdisciplinary Studies also suggests students choose an interdisciplinary major called Public Governance and Leadership, offering courses mainly from law, business administration, and economics. Students from the class of 2013 are required to take the interdisciplinary major. 
        Although the purpose of interdisciplinary majors seems to fit what students need to fit into our demanding society, drawbacks exist in IS curricula, as they are still in their infancy at Korean universities. 
        Most other classes are major courses from other departments. Since IS majors have to take the same classes with other majors, who have more background knowledge about the field, many struggle to catch up. Despite steps by the administration of Scranton College to deal with this problem, not all students are satisfied. 
        “The main characteristic of IS is that it mixes various fields of studies. Although we often borrow major courses from other colleges, we try to open as many new classes as possible as exclusive leadership seminars and introductory classes,” said Professor Kim. 
        “A few classes were newly opened and students regard them as subjects made to help us. However, we think some of the so-called introductory classes are not appropriate to help students explore what career or major to choose, because they are already like major classes, giving only specialized knowledge,” said Kim Young-joo (Korea University, 2). 
        There also seems to be gap between the goal of crossing boundaries between fields and the actual number of opportunities for students who choose to design new majors through programs like Scranton Colleges’ Self-Design Field (SDF) or the Student-Designed Major at SNU’s College of Liberal Studies (CLS). 
        “A problem still remains that all classes from every college need to be opened to vitalize the SDF, as students create their own curriculum for an SDF. But the four tracks that are already established are such broad ones that they can provide enough combinations of studies to satisfy students. This is why we suggest students to consider other tracks thoroughly before taking an SDF,” said Professor Kim. 
        In fact, of the 93 among 154 students of the CLS who decided on their majors, 35 students took Economics, and 34 chose Business Administration. Only two out of 93 prepared to set up a new major. In Ewha’s case, out of 34 out of 40 students who chose their major, 20 went to Social Science, six to Natural Science, five to Business Administration, two to International Studies, one to Liberal Arts, and none to a Self-Design Field. 
        Despite problems, Professor Kim was optimistic. “The future output of its graduates will be one of the most important standards to decide whether a college of IS is successful or not. To have great output, students should have pride and responsibility in what they learn. Plus, the school needs to back up this new stream of studies that is just about to grow,” said Kim.


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