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Interdisciplinary Studies Can Increase School Competitiveness

Interdisciplinary Studies Can Increase School Competitiveness

Posted March. 12, 2007 07:18,   


To catch up with other international prestigious universities, Seoul National University (SNU) has decided to support more interdisciplinary research.

The SNU College of National Science announced yesterday that it has selected two Challenging Task Projects (CTPs) which start this month, and which basically use an interdisciplinary approach.

This project emphasizes the importance of creative and adventurous research and funnels a maximum of 100 million won per year into the two-year project, regardless whether they achieve their goals or not.

SNU aims to win a Nobel Prize by encouraging interdisciplinary research. Two proposals were selected last month as CTPs after beating out 16 other candidates. One is “Research on Dynamic Control Frameworks on Gene Revelation by Integration of Molecule Tong Technology and Single-molecule FRET (Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer) Technology,” which was proposed by Hong Seong-choel, professor of the School of Physics and Astronomy, and which involves physics and biology. The other is ‘Development and Application of New Generation In-situ High Tension Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Probes,’ which was proposed by Lee Seong-geun, professor of the School of Earth and Environmental Science at SNU, and which involves earth science, physics, and chemistry.

A source from SNU said that, “We believe that these two interdisciplinary research projects are very important and deserve the Nobel Prize if they succeed in generating successful outcomes.”

The college of medicine at SNU has also developed a new area of study by initiating interdisciplinary research with the College of National Science starting next month. Contrary to other similar research that focuses on cooperation with life sciences, this project seeks involvement with relative distant disciplines such as mathematics and statistics, and supports a 60 million won maximum grant ceiling for each project for one year.

Initiatives for disciplinary research are encouraged by the development of interdisciplinary teaching among undergraduates. In addition, SNU plans to expand its current interdisciplinary major programs from two to 20 majors. This program is based on a system of developing new majors by integrating important subjects from other majors. Currently, SNU has two interdisciplinary majors: Studies on Information and Culture (integration of engineering, management, humanism, and social science), and Technological Management (integration of engineering and management).

The Faculty of Liberal Education at SNU also plans to open an interdisciplinary lecture series called “Study and Science Research Ethics,” starting in the spring semester of next year. This lecture series will teach ethics and learning studies by integrating humanism, social, and natural sciences. The College of Humanities is also considering opening a regional interdisciplinary studies program by applying subjects in the college of humanities, college of social science, and business school to regional areas such as Russia, Central and South America, Europe, and China.

The popularity of interdisciplinary lectures is noticeable these days. Other universities are also very active in supporting these lectures as a part of efforts to follow international trends.

For example, Korea University is considering opening interdisciplinary subjects for general education, such as “Social Conflict Resolution Methods”; “Interdisciplinary Studies”; and “Social Conflict Resolution, Leaderships, and Creative Power’ starting the spring semester of 2008. The school also plans to open an interdisciplinary lecture series called, “Students’ Required Subjects” during the same time frame.

Hanyang University has already started undergraduate integrated studies. “The 21st Human Science Global Manpower Fostering Project,” which starts this semester, makes students choose one of four interdisciplinary lectures: ‘Science and Technology’; ‘Public Supporting Human Science’; ‘Media Culture’; and ‘International Communication.’

Kim Seong-je, professor of English Language and Literature at Hanyang University, stressed the importance of an interdisciplinary approach and said that, “The ability to properly evaluate other research sectors beyond an individual’s field will enable students to obtain global power and understand complicated and real social environments.”

Lee Jong-gwan, professor of philosophy at Sungkyunkwan University, also said that, “Since new students are very accustomed to memorization, it is very important to encourage students to learn knowledge of other relevant fields on particular issues.”