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DGU Wins the BK21 Project: How Can We Improve Our Academic Levels?

  On January 29th, 2009 the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) in conjunction with the Korea Research Foundation (KRF) announced the mid-evaluation results for the BK21 project competition. DongGuk University (DGU) came first in two fields of study: Korean Literature, and Philosophy. When some Donggukians heard the news, they felt very proud. However, students who are not familiar with the two projects are not likely to know anything about BK21 and what it stands for. So what is the BK21 project anyway? And why is it good for our university?

What is the BK21 Project?
  Brain Korea 21 (BK21) is a project that aims to produce the “next generation of creative leaders” by providing support for students in various programs like Master’s, PhD and post-graduate research courses.
  As mentioned previously, the competition is now at a mid-evaluation stage. It is the moment when MEST and KRF decide which groups and teams will still get their support. The goal of the evaluation is to improve competitive power and quality in the BK21 project. In order to meet such rigorous standards, the present groups are strictly evaluated; moreover, to improve the qualities of each study group, new groups would replace the old ones.

What Did DongGuk University Do?
  Before mid-evaluation, the Buddhism Department had already won support for the second phase of the BK21 project.
“Buddhist Studies in the Global Age”, the name of the DGU research program, is based on the accumulated research made during the first phase of BK21. “The excellent result in the field of historical science and philosophy was a significant academic achievement. The Buddhism Department will receive a hundred million won annually,” said an official for the Buddhism Department.
  In the field of Korean literature, DGU won the final victory against Seoul National University, the previous winner. The Korean Literature department professor Hwang Jong-yeon said: “Our program ‘The Transmission and Education of Korean literature’ attained good evaluation because our program strongly emphasized the education and study of Korean literature. Another contributing factor was that a number of research papers by participating professors were published.”

  The evaluation for the BK21 project was fair, objective and reasonable especially in such categories as study techniques, getting patents, and taking degrees. The number of professors participating also enhanced the competition’s credibility. DGU, however, still has some problems. According to professor Hwang, while professors possess a lot of publications, the graduate students’ research contribution was deficient by comparison.  One of the reason for this is due to relatively low numbers of registered graduate students at DGU.

Chung-Ang University
  Chung-Ang University (CAU) won the evaluation in 15 fields of studies and also added six new ones. It was the largest increase among the competing universities. So what is the factor that lay behind CAU’s success? Shin Jae-young, an official in the CAU planning office said: “for the mid-evaluation, the groups in CAU’s leading research group made strong applications to the BK21 project. Since they had made good preparation, they were able to build on this to get a good result.”

  Another factor was that CAU had a selfevaluation system in place which made possible the ongoing research, employment and global activity in each department. It was a good way of keeping everyone on his competitive toes. He also added that: “We will now make a special effort to improve our research projects and provide economic support for all those participants. We also hope to secure more full-time professors.” Moreover, CAU expects to take advantage of the rewards of its success in improving its university image and infrastructure.

Inha University
  Inha University (IU) also won in the BK21 project. It was a brilliant achievement for IU because it won in two fields of studies. An official of the Academic-Industrial Cooperation Department at IU said: “We encouraged competition and self-evaluation for the BK21. We then selected specialized fields and supported them intensively. Now, IU is preparing ‘INHA VISION 2020’ which is a longterm plan of development. Through this plan, IU will achieve its goal - Globalization and Specialization.”

  Starting from March 2009, BK21 project groups and teams will gain financial support from the government. In the
middle of April, a forum for presenting the results of the second BK21 project will be held.  DGU attained a good result and the achievement is a source of pride for our university. However, DGU has some weak points, one of them is the shortage of graduate students’ research potentials.  DGU must expand its human resources, especially in the graduate area. It must do this to properly align itself with the BK21 vision of helping to produce “The next generation of creative leaders.”

Kim Tae-hyang
Post Reporter

Kim Tae-hyang  Kimtaehyang@dongguk.edu

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