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Third Public Hearing on Transdisciplinary Track
[ Issue 163 Page 4 ] Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 07:42:21 Hyoyeon Kim Staff Reporter hyoyokim@kaist.ac.kr

The second public hearing on the proposed School of Transdisciplinary Sciences and Engineering (TSE) held on May 2 received heavy criticism from students for its unsatisfactory addressal of student questions. In response to the disparagement, the school requested the Undergraduate Student Council (USC) to host an additional public hearing. To prevent the repetition of the same conflict, the USC accepted the request under the conditions that Executive Vice President O Ok Park attend the hearing and that student feedback be reflected in the presentation contents. After negotiations were completed, the third public hearing on TSE was held on May 21 in Terman Hall of the Creative Learning Building (E11).

The hearing followed the same format as the previous hearings, with a presentation by Head of TSE Promotion Team Professor Jong-Duk Kim followed by a Q&A session. The presentation this time contained more specific information on the TSE curriculum and operation plan than the past hearings did. TSE students will be required to take 139 credits in total. Out of the 139, 19 credits must be dedicated to “basic transdisciplinary” courses, one of which must be a single credit seminar to help students develop their own career plan. 33 credits must be dedicated to “advanced transdisciplinary” courses of the students’ choosing. A longer list of potential advanced transdisciplinary course titles than before was given — including Biomedical Imaging, Marketing, Capstone Design, etc. — but it was stated that it is liable to change. 11 credits must be research credits, including the Integrated Research Program (IRP), graduation research, or internships. Even with more specific information, students were still doubtful of the expertise that will come from TSE. In response to the same concerns during the second hearing, the Promotion Team responded that students who desired to obtain more in-depth knowledge had the option of following the double major track. Students, however, demanded a response that addressed the most fundamental issue: if a student were to graduate with a degree in TSE only, would their lack of expertise not hinder their employment or advancement into graduate school?

Executive Vice President Park replied that the students’ perspective on “expertise” had to change. He stated that the expertise of TSE lies not in the comprehensive knowledge of a single field, but instead in its flexibility and power to link multiple fields together. In other words, although at the moment TSE may seem to be at a disadvantage compared to other majors, in the long term it would prove to be better-suited to deal with the various problems in modern society. He also emphasized that TSE provides an option for students who may want to study a wider range of topics to suit their own interests.

The prevalent opinion amongst students was that the voices of the Class of 2018, whose constituents are the direct subjects of TSE if it were to be established according to the proposed schedule, were not being sufficiently incorporated into the planning procedure. Professor Kim admitted that there has been difficulty in actively taking in student feedback so far, but promised to listen if detailed suggestions were given.

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