The School of Transdisciplinary Studies (STS) held their final demonstration class on December 4, bringing their series of demos, which started in October, to a close. They simulated major courses to be offered starting spring 2020 — the first time the STS major will be opened to students. The department only recently celebrated their opening last September. (See Volume 172 for more information.)
Professor Jong Duk Kim, the head of the STS, began the demo with an overview of the planned curriculum for the STS major. He emphasized the customizability of the curriculum to suit individual needs, especially for students with multiple fields of interest. Then, he discussed the Integrated Research Program (TS499), a special feature of the curriculum where teams of students conduct their own project in a combination of lectures and laboratory work. Another feature that Professor Kim emphasized is the Career Design (TS201) course, intended to help STS students decide and plan the track they wish to specialize in.
After the overview presentation, Jihan Kim, an associate professor from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE), held a demonstration of his Introduction to Mathematical Modeling (TS220) course. He currently teaches a similar course called Introduction to Numerical Methods for Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE206) offered to CBE students. Professor Kim explains, however, that the new course will focus on a general understanding of mathematical modeling in a variety of fields rather than its applications in CBE.
In fact, Professor Jong Duk Kim noted that the courses STS will begin offering next year are “more basic” versions of courses taught in other departments by the same professors. Demos of STS courses such as Economics for Management (TS270) and Integrative Molecular Biology (TS240) have been held by professors from the School of Business and Technology Management and the Department of Biological Sciences, respectively. These courses are offered so that students who wish to venture into different fields will not be intimidated by the more specialized, complex versions of the courses.
By conducting demos, Professor Jong Duk Kim hopes students will be enticed to major in STS. Although he expresses uncertainty in the expected number of students that will choose the STS major next semester, he says they are fully prepared. “All the material is finished,” he said, “and all the facilities and professors we need are already available.” Professor Jihan Kim adds that the purpose of the demos was “to inform the prospective incoming students on what would be taught in the course[s]”.
Regarding the implementation of the curriculum, Professor Jong Duk Kim admits that many of the STS programs are still in the experimental stage. He intends to adapt the curriculum to the needs of the students in the next few years, assuring that the kinks will be ironed out “by the time we produce our first graduates”.