These days, when the so-called STEM fields attract more of students and resources in higher-education institutions the world over, a number of academicians have explained why courses in literature, history, philosophy and the arts are indispensable to the future generations. Some stress such courses help students grow up to be well-rounded men and women and at the same time to be responsible citizens, and others show that they encourage creative, critical and reflective minds, motors of innovation and competitiveness. In other words, these academicians draw attention to the usefulness of the humanities.
Yet the humanities are more than a matter of choice to be determined by usefulness. Today they are often characterized with language, creativity, communication, reflection and criticism. From historical perspectives, however, these features constituted the core of intellectual activities that, leading to cultural evolution, differentiated human beings from the other animals. Furthermore, ancient Greeks promoted such activities, establishing the academy and calling its practice in general ‘philosophy.’ It is during the four centuries from 1500 to 1900 that ‘philosophy’ branched out into the humanities, natural sciences and then social sciences, thus narrowing down its conventional concern to human existence. The humanities, inheriting that concern, have focused on who we humans are, where we are from, what we ought to do and other questions we have to face in trying to lead a meaningful life. These questions will be raised more often than ever before as technical advancement accelerates rapid changes in human existence. Therefore, the humanities are an inexorable requirement for the future generations.
- 2012-2014 Dean, College of Humanities, SNU
- 2008-present Adjunct Professor, Interdisciplinary Program in History and Philosophy of Science
- 2007-2010 Director, Institute of Historical Research, SNU
- 1995-1997 Chair, Dept. of Western History, SNU
- 1989 Appointed at Seoul National University
- 1989 Ph.D., History, Harvard University
- 1985 M.A., History, Harvard University
- 1978 M.A., Western History, Seoul National University,
- 1976 B.A., Western History, Seoul National University