Schools expand liberal arts curricula to nurture well-rounded students
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Schools expand liberal arts curricula to nurture well-rounded students
  • Huh Ryun-jung
  • 승인 2016.02.29 11:46
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Universities including Ewha, Sogang, Korea, and Seoul National University have recently expanded their liberal arts curricula by increasing the number of general curriculum courses and programs. General curricula and programs provide liberal arts education necessary for students of all majors. Some of the newly introduced courses will be mandatory for freshmen starting from this semester.
As for Ewha Womans University, the school has developed 16 “Basics for Multidisciplinary Education” courses, which are general education classes encompassing different subjects. The courses include “Music and Technology” from the College of Education and “Computational Thinking” developed by the College of Engineering for students majoring in the humanities. The course was created for humanity majors that normally do not have the opportunity to take software-related courses.
All students entering Ewha from 2016 onwards will be required to take three credits in multidisciplinary education. Those enrolling in the new College of Science and Industry Convergence will have to take six credits.
“By providing multidisciplinary education that connects one major with another, multidisciplinary education courses will raiese creative students with knowledge in convergence,” said professor Park Kwi-cheon, the head of the HOKMA General Education division of the Advancement of College Education (ACE) project.
In addition to Ewha’s new trend, Sogang University has introduced mandatory general education courses from this semester. From 2016, all freshmen entering Sogang will be required to take two additional classes: “Person with Others” and “Computational Thinking” or “Computational Thinking (Advanced).” “Person with Others” is a three-day camp where students are able to learn how to be a part of the community by participating in activities that foster communication and mutual respect. Meanwhile, core required courses such as “Computation Thinking” and “Computational Thinking (Advanced)” teach software usage, programming, and data manipulation.
“The computer-related classes were set up because the school decided that all students need to acquire certain computer skills regardless of their major,” said a staff member of the Sogang Institute for the Whole Person Education.“The school was also selected as a software-oriented university by the government in 2015, so we have now secured enough budget to support software education that we have hoped to offer.”
Likewise, Korea University has been selected as a software-oriented university by the government and will offer “Computational Thinking” classes from this semester. During the semester-long trial period, the class will be delivered online to students who have registered for the Freshmen Seminar, a mandatory common curriculum course of Korea University.
Korea University’s expansion in general education is not confined to its academic courses, but is further expanded to school events. In fact, the school has held the “Liberal Arts Festival” from last semester, where its renowned liberal arts lectures are offered to its students and the public. During the festival, a photo exhibition, poem recitals, and musical performances by students also took place. The liberal arts lectures held at the school have made it easier for students to approach liberal arts learning without the burden of coursework.
“The expansion of general education is taking place for a variety of reasons,” said Suk Min-jung, a staff at the Korea University General Education. “For one thing, the school is trying to prevent students from only concentrating on a single major and acquiring imbalanced knowledge. The university’s goal is to raise well-rounded intellectuals necessary in society.”
Last semester, SNU also introduced new liberal arts lecture courses. Some of its courses include “Human Nature and the Good Life: An Interdisciplinary Approach” and “Great Books Reading Seminar.” The former approaches human nature from philosophical, social, and scientific perspectives. During the class, students discuss topics such as the constituents of a good life and the ideal life. The Great Books Reading Seminar deals with classical books from both the west and the east. Despite being elective courses, the former had been registered by more than 100 students last semester. Also, the latter was popular enough to be offered during summer and winter semesters.
The SNU’s recent focus on liberal arts was driven by its president’s motto of rearing “kind-hearted” students.
“The school has realized that students concentrate on their studies and extracurricular activities but lack character education and understanding of ethics,” confessed Lee Jung-ku, an official of the SNU Faculty of Liberal Education.
“Therefore, the school has decided to create liberal arts courses and programs to facilitate comprehensive thinking and compensate for areas that students lack in.”
Meanwhile, students welcomed the expansion of general education curricula. They were positive about the wide range of courses available and admitted that knowledge in different fields is necessary.
“Regarding the basics for multidisciplinary education courses, I think it would be helpful for students in the humanities to gain knowledge in technology,” Kim Seon-jin, a junior in English Education said.
“Last year, I learned programming language in a computer science class and was able to figure out how the computer functions. Programming language is a widely used language similar to the second languages that we learn.”


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