Convergence, A Survival Package for the Humanities?

This paper is a critical examination of the idea of "convergence" in the humanities, particularly in the context of the government funding project specially designed for the humaities. The Ministry of Education(MOE) of Korea has recently launched a new funding program called CORE(The initiative for college of humanities' Research and Education) which gives out 5400 million US dollars annually to a select group of colleges of humanities for three years on a competitive basis. The CORE requires the applying colleges to choose from the five models for curriculum innovation: the regional studies on a global scale, the studies of the humanities based convergence, the intensive studies of the traditional disciplines, the transition into a general education unit, and the college's own innovative model. Apart from "the intensive studies of the traditional disciplines," all the other models strongly require the applying colleges to "innovate" their existing curriculums to the effect that the employability of their graduates is enhanced. The government funding initiatives that interfere with the educational curriculums are always counter-productive, but "the humanities based convergence" model seems particularly pernicious because the "convergence" they recommend unknowingly deteriorates the current humanistic disciplines which have already been "in crisis." This "convergence," I argue, is nothing but an advanced technology in itself which makes use of some ideas even from the humanistic studies with a single purpose of producing a "creative" product like iphone. The humanities should change of course, and cannot be excused from the social responsibility. The humanities, as an academic discipline, should bear a fair share of burden to solve the problems in our lives. But that does not necessarily mean that it should function exactly like the other practically oriented disciplines. The idea of convergence enforced upon the humanistic studies by MOE is not only an unjust bureaucratic interference but a counter-productive imposition. The liberal education, properly offered by the colleges of humanities, does serve our society by growing global citizens with critical intelligence, moral sensibility and historical insight. MOE should stop interfering with the university curriculums with the grant money. As Humboldt said, the government should support the universities, but with no interference whatsoever.  


Keywords: Convergence, Consilience, CORE project, the Humanities, Government Support for the Humanities, (South) Korea. 


Full Text in Korean