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Fusion at UniversityBringing Our Studies Together to Accomplish More


The first Daejeon international fusion Fair (DICU Fair) was held August 8th. The festival demonstrated many aspects of culture including industries, games, comics, and movies. While these may seem like separate themes, they were put together to coincide with the new world trend which is fusion contents.

Contents with fused themes have been in the limelight recently. Times are changing. In times past, the right person for a specific job was needed to have specific knowledge related to that field.

At one time a cashier’s job required only accounting abilities and a teacher of Korean Language required only Korean linguistic abilities, but this is no longer preferred. Today enterprises want people to be more versatile.

To put it bluntly, they want more Leonardo da Vinci’s, and less average Joe’s and Jane’s. They want individuals who are specialized in science, music, art, and mathematics. These are a combination of the humanities, science, sociology, law, economics, art, and even medical technology and engineering.

Buoyed by this trend, Dongguk University (DU) plans to found the Basic Academy-College by combining together natural sciences with liberal arts by 2015 based on DU’s 2020 Vision.

One of the characteristics of modern society is complexity, not simplicity. In this regard, insight and thinking skills are equally as important as specialized knowledge, which can be the key to solving multiple problems. Insight and thinking skills can be trained by increasing our basic capabilities.

Because of new job demands for fusion skills students’ attitudes have changed and they now want to learn more. In fact, they must learn more if they wish to be successful. For example, students who major in the natural sciences now want to learn law.

Until now students needed to apply for the classes they wanted and they also needed to get permission. However, in the Basic Academy-College there will be no boundaries between the natural sciences and liberal arts. Freshmen will be able to learn what they want in their first year and then will be free to choose their majors in their sophomore year.

Yoo Gwang-ho, who works for the strategic planning head office, said “Basic Academy-College will allow students to take their basic studies without walls and this will enable them to choose their majors freely which best fit their aptitude”. There will also be no division between departments like Korean literature and English literature. All teaching staffs will belong to an integrated group. Lee Young-meun who also works for the strategic planning head office as team leader, said “If all teaching staffs become one, then we can cope with all problems better and we can be fast about it”.

Many universities have reorganized their educational processes. Some universities have operated fusion departments that have included at least two different studies. Even though the studies were not so closely related, they found their points where they connected and were able to develop new fields. The new departments provided new curriculums and satisfied their students with differentiated education systems.

Other universities like DU have started to make new departments by breaking down the walls of education among several studies. This has led to a few problems like students overloading on the same classes while other departments were left in decline because of lack of popularity. So what should universities do to make and operate successful fusion departments? Let's look at the cases of some universities.

The Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts (DIMA) opened their Department of Entertainment Business Management in 2006. What is unique is that students of the department study not only broadcasting but also business management. Its educational goal is training students to be professional managers and planners of entertainment industries or culture industries like performing arts, festivals, recording, and movies.

"As freshmen, we learn basic theories of both broadcasting systems and business studies. After that we study advertising and public relations, commercial film production, sales promotion, star marketing, and more. Furthermore, we participate in many music or movie festivals, concerts, and any annual events at our school. The professors provide us with opportunities for us to participate in them, but do not force us. Rather most of us apply to do the volunteer work because we know that experience can be the best teacher," Hwang Hyo-sun, a sophomore majoring in Entertainment Business Management, said. 

Hyo-sun chose to enter DIMA to be a manager of famous stars. She experienced acting in a local theater troupe, and studied business in a commercial high school. With her background, she looked for a university which had departments fulfilling both of her interests; Entertainment and Business. DIMA was one of the few universities which had a Department of Entertainment Business Management.

"I feel very proud when I return from parties on the last day of school. By working as a staff member of the Dream Concert, Asia Song Festival, and many other events, I could review all that I have learned in the lecture room. Though most freshmen in my department start their university lives only looking forward to studying about entertainment management, they soon become open to various cultural industries," she said.

KAIST has a Culture-Technology major. The Director Won Gwang-yun said “Our graduate school studies culture and yields the contents through engineering.  Culture is art, industry, science and the way we think about our lives. We combine art and culture with science and engineering. This is a world trend, so we will make an effort to improve and study this further.”

Yeungnam University was selected as a fusion design project by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy last year. By combining design with urban engineering and computer engineering and also establishing culture & design and IT convergence of media, Youngnam University plans to foster 'da Vinci' designers who are good problem-solvers with multilateral sights.

Similarly, Sogang University plans to establish a new department; Art & Technology. Art & Technology students will manufacture the culture contents and write theses. The goal of the graduate school will be to blend these two different fields. Also Sogang University has implemented a multiple major system. If students earn enough of the required credits, there is nothing preventing them from attaining three or four majors. 

Kim Ho-jung, who majors in English Literature, said “Our school system is pretty good. I can learn whatever I want and I will prepare for a CPA. Without this kind of system it would be very difficult to prepare for this exam. I will major in Business Administration. I am also interested in Psychology. so I will major in three fields which are English Literature, Business Administration and Psychology.”

Sung Kyun Kwan University (SKKU) had initially planned to reform their school similar to DU. SKKU proclaimed a 2020 vision plan for integrating their College of Liberal Arts, School of Social Sciences, School of Economics, and School of Natural Sciences. The new college's tentative name would have been 'The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences'.

Not only would students have been able to study pure academics but also practical studies so its range would have been very extensive. Upon studying from these various fields during their freshmen year, students would be able to choose their majors. The College would have provided various academic services and activities for first year students to develop their creative thinking, and to explore the proper paths in their secondary fields. The plan fell through, however, because it was met with disapproval from both professors and students.

"Thirteen presidents from different departments had many different opinions about the new college system. The College of Liberal Arts and School of Social Sciences were concerned that they would fall behind other colleges", Choi Eun-won, the student government president of Humanities and Social Sciences Campus at Seoul, said.

Sung Jae-hyun, a senior majoring in the Department of Economics, said "If I had to enter into the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, I would not be satisfied with my university life. The students would throw away their first year to find what they wanted to study, so SKKU should set up cultural subjects of high standards like major studies."

Following this new trend of fusion studies, DU is trying to reform their departments. This may bring positive effects; widening students' insights into diverse fields and training multi-talented persons. On the other hand, there is always the possibility that popular departments will succeed and less popular ones will fail. So the University must be careful as they attempt to shape their future. The good news is we have plenty of time to further discuss our process and ensure that our plan is headed in the right direction. Based on the overall cases of other universities, DU should be able to find its own direction to establish the Basic Academy-College.

Yun Seon-ju, Kim Jong-ha  besensible@dongguk.edu, keep14@dongguk.edu

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