Universities and students light hope to the humanities 2
Universities and students light hope to the humanities 2
  • Lee Hea-won
  • 승인 2011.10.14 13:43
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The popularity of the humanities has been waning as several courses in the liberal arts are no longer offered. Humanities courses, such as Sexuality in Korean Classical Literature at Seoul National University (SNU), Philosophical Understanding of Culture at Korea University (KU), and Women’s Studies at Sookmyung Women’s University have been eliminated. A plethora of students has swarmed to employment-focused majors, like business. This leaves students majoring in the humanities no other option but to also double major in business to gain competitiveness for employment.
Watching the popularity of humanities plummet, professors and experts in the fields of humanities discussed the “crisis of the humanities” through various columns, lectures, and books. For instance, after humanities professors from KU declared that the humanities were in the midst of a crisis in 2006, the National Research Foundation of Korea also claimed the same notion.
However, a book entitled “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” by professor Michael Sandel of Harvard University helped to trigger the reversal of the current situation of the crisis of the humanities.”
According to Korea Publishers Society, “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” ranked top among best sellers for 16 weeks amongst nine bookstores, including Kyobo Bookstore and sold over 61,000 copies since being published in May, 2010 in Korea.
In 2011, universities in Korea began to also create or incorporate humanities courses into other fields of studies. For instance, SNU’s Advancement Management Program puts some emphasis into the humanities in its lectures. University of Seoul also teaches humanities courses not only for its students, but also for homeless people who wish to gain morals in life—a plan which Humanities Korea decided to launch since its establishment in 2007.
As more humanities projects are being launched, it is questionable whether or not the humanities are in state of crisis.

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