Many students enter Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) through the department system. They spend their first year in general departments without a specific major, and SKKU provides a Learning Community (LC) system for them in a bid to foster their campus life. In 2020, the LC system faced a huge change: the integrated LC was introduced. Since the integrated LC was first implemented this year, there have been many voices stating their concerns over the new system. As it is already December, it seems necessary to reflect on the new integrated LC system before the next year starts. Regarding this, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) is going to look at what an integrated LC is, its pros and cons, and how SKKU can promote the integrated LC.
What Is the Integrated LC?
The LC is a basic unit of learning, education, and college life for freshmen who belong to four departments: Humanities, Social Science, Natural Science, and Engineering. The purpose of the LC is to foster students’ academic careers and campus lives. Until 2019, each LC consisted of around 20 students from the same department. From this year, however, each LC consists of 23 students from four different departments and are now called integrated LCs. The integrated LC system was developed to nurture the creative interdisciplinary talent required by current society. Freshmen who belong to the same integrated LC must take these classes together: Sungkyun Classics Book Club and Creative and Interdisciplinary Design. Every semester, each lecture opens on either the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus (HSSC) or Natural Sciences Campus (NSC). If students take one class on the HSSC in one semester, they would have to take the other course on the NSC in the other semester.
|Department System Orientation (skku.edu)|
What Are the Pros and Cons?
Strengths of Integrated LCs
The integrated LC system can unite two campuses and allow students to interact with various people. As SKKU has dual campuses, located at a distance from one another, it is challenging to promote a united environment for students. Most students do not get to experience their second campus until they graduate. The integrated LC system, however, provides students with a chance to visit their second campus, for it requires them to take either the Sungkyun Classics Book Club or Creative and Interdisciplinary Design on their second campus. Also, by exchanging their thoughts, experiences, and interests with students who study different disciplines, students will be able to expand their life experiences and broaden their visions. Another strength of the integrated LC is that it can help graduates benefit from broad alumni networks. Since an integrated LC consists of students from four different departments, students are more likely to opt for various careers. Therefore, after they graduate, a lot of mutually beneficial interactions can happen between them. For example, a student who becomes a programmer can entrust another student who becomes an accountant with the care of her property.
|Interdisciplinary Learning (open.edu)|
Weaknesses of Integrated LCs
The biggest drawback of the integrated LC system is the difficulty in promoting and maintaining, because of distant dual campuses. It takes about an hour-long drive from one campus to the other campus, so students might not be able to meet each other frequently enough to be friends. Besides, the whole integrated LC only takes two courses together throughout the year, and it is not enough to perhaps form friendships easily. Even though students get to be close to each other despite these difficulties, they can grow apart, spending the next three years at a distant campus. Also, the integrated LC system ignores the fundamental purpose of an LC. The LC was implemented to foster freshmen’s campus life by providing enough opportunity to make friends in their department, for each department consists of hundreds of people. The integrated LC, however, only includes five to six students from the same department, so it is not helpful for students when making friends in their department. For example, a student in the department of Engineering can only get to know about five engineering students unless he makes extra efforts like joining a club. It leaves a doubt as to whether SKKU ignored the LC system’s fundamental purpose for other values like cultivating creative interdisciplinary talent.
How Can We Promote Integrated LC Activities?
SKKU must promote various LC events that can unite students at different campuses. For example, a new LC Sports Day must be carried forward to encompass both campuses. Until last year, the preliminaries of LC Sports Day were hosted in summer at each campus towards LCs that belong to the campus, and the second round was hosted in the autumn at the NSC. Since only a few qualified LCs of the HSSC got to visit their second campus for the sports day, the event did not wholly encompass both campuses. Therefore, the new LC Sports Day must change into an event where every student can enjoy both campuses. For instance, the preliminaries should run over two days at different campuses. Hosting certain games on one campus and the rest on the other campus would allow students to experience their second campus aside from just taking classes. Besides this, SKKU can consider organizing various LC events. For instance, the Confucianism Humanity Education Center offers many exciting online or offline programs for students. By applying to those programs through an online school system, students can spend quality time enjoying the art of Confucianism humanity. If SKKU encourages integrated LCs to participate in at least one program at each campus together, it would be another good chance to promote the integrated LC activities.
|LC Sports Day (skku.edu)|
It is nice to see that SKKU is trying to do something that corresponds to the world’s requirements, but the integrated LC has not operated well due to the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic and the fact that it was first introduced. Many freshmen who belong to general departments are struggling to form a sense of belonging to the school, and it is worrying that it might end up with a lack of school spirit. To solve this, SKKU should try its best to promote integrated LC activities and develop LC management for new freshmen in the future.