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College experiments with innovative classes

Personal development is key at Gachon’s new liberal arts department

May 23,2015
“There are three bananas and four people. What is the fairest way to distribute the bananas?” asked Pak Do-hyun, a financial engineering professor at Gachon University, to 10 students in a personal development seminar at the school last Thursday.

“Calculating the least common multiple,” said Kim Seung-ju, 19.

“Four times three is 12. By cutting the bananas into 12 pieces, one person can eat three pieces each.”

Yang Seok-jun, sitting next to him, disagreed and gave a different answer he felt was fairer.

“Put them in a blender and make four cups of bananas,” he said. “If needed, add some milk.”

Every person in the seminar laughed.

Pak then asked what the students would do if the four people were a family.

“Being fair is not the same as being average,” he said. “With concession and care, someone could eat a little. The more creative solutions to this kind of question we figure out, the more of a developed society we have.”

Having established a liberal arts college early this month, Gachon University is taking on an innovative way to teach. The school has come up with a new type of general education course by converging humanities, natural sciences and personal development.

The liberal arts school is responsible for providing general education classes for the students at the university.

The program will officially launch next semester, and a new curriculum will be introduced by 2018.

The personal development seminar began last year. With around 10 students, this class is conducted through discussions and combines established major subjects at the university with humanities.

On Thursday, Pak talked about his experiences in the United States in order to address the significance of personal development.

“A person [in my company] leaked clients’ information in order to earn a huge amount of money,” he said.

“One person had a huge impact on the clients and the company. Despite being very smart and intelligent, a person with a pretty bad personality can harm our society. You shouldn’t think that those who major in mathematics only need to do mathematics.”

The class has influenced the attitudes of some of the students.

“In my teens, I often had arguments with friends because I was so selfish,” said Maeng Ju-bin. “In the class, I’ve learned how to listen to other people.”

Compared to general classes, those held by the liberal arts college are different. They are based on discussions to help students improve their communication skills. Professors are required to conduct the classes by exercising problem-based learning techniques that help students solve questions by themselves.

Flipped learning, which requires students to study in advance through an online course and then exercise what they learned in an offline class, will also be introduced.

The convergence of humanities with other subjects is another big difference.

“Each major department has a professor responsible for the liberal arts college’s classes for a convergence between natural science and social science,” a school official said.

The university is preparing a special lecture series covering many subjects, including literature, history, philosophy, science and art. Also, after choosing the best lecturers, massive open online courses will be provided with in-class lectures.

BY YUN SUK-MAN [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]


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