However, Humanities courses are recently recapturing popularity with the help of professors and undergraduates. Also, universities have been hosting events and have increased the number of courses in the Humanities.
The Humanitas College of Kyunghee University is deeply dedicated to its students. Kyunghee University (KHU) intends to help students to see the value in college education and to help them figure out what they want to do with their lives and acknowledges the social responsibility each individual has to shoulder. To bring these aims to reality, students, regardless of one’s major or campus, are required to complete 35 credits of classes in the humanities in order to graduate, starting from this March. This accounts for 30 percent of the total credits required for the graduation.
“KHU is the first to take action in reviving the passion of studying humanities on campus,” Do Jung-il, the dean of Humanitas College of Kyunghee University, said.
From history to classes on world peace, nonviolence, and ethics, the curriculum stretches its boundary as far as it can.
“I support this system because although these subjects would not be dealt with in depth, it will prove to be a great foundation for students regardless of which profession they choose,” Bae Eun-jin (Kyunghee University, 3) said.
However before such actions from colleges were finally made, students have hungered for academic contemplation in higher education for a long time before.
At the Thinking Stones’ Society (TSS), a student association with a 46 year old history, students from all universities in Korea gather together to discuss on a set topic every Saturday. Before the regular meetings members are required to read selected books on the humanities and societies. The debate session is based on the bulletin prepared beforehand.
“We believe that reading books on humanities and our society not only allows us to broaden our perspective, but also gives wisdom of how to read the current times. Through the discussion, we practice to understand thoughts of others and to map out one’s own values,” Sim Young-hyun (Business, 2) said.
“Simply the TSS itself is an attempt to digest the humanities and society in an original way of ‘read a lot discuss a lot.’”
Since 1961, during the military coup, the TSS was a national organization but was forced to put on a deep freeze due to political issues. However, the graduate student of Yonsei University, Lee Hyun-hwa is the first president of the TSS who decided that the fire should be kept going. Lee leads a group of students, creating ties with student organization at Ewha Womans University English Language and Literature department and signed up the TSS on the American Culture Center as an official club activity.
Throughout many years, the TSS’s motto has become academism, which refers to a serious attitude in studying issues about freedom, liberation, reality, and historical consciousness.
“Even though reading books and preparing academic discussion on the humanities and social science take a lot of concern and time, it helps solidifying the foundation of learning,” Kang Jung-wook (Ajou University, 2) said.
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