'Globalization’ might be one of the most common words you face in the media, textbooks, and many places around you. As a student at Sookmyung, have you thought deeply about the global index of SMU? Surprisingly, from some people’s point of view, when evaluating Sookmyung, this is included as one of the evaluation criteria. This year, sadly, Sookmyung did not get a very good grade.
What’s going on with the global index on campus? The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Sang-Yule Kim (KIM), Dean of the Office of External Affairs and Development who is drawing up a blueprint for a globalized Sookmyung.
SMT: According to the state of the Sookmyung exchange program (149 schools in 23 countries in 2008) it seems less successful than other universities.
KIM: First of all, I’d like to say that Sookmyung is pursuing quality, not just quantity in exchange programs. In the case of Wellesley College, one of the most prestigious schools in the U.S.A., it has a student exchange program with only seven schools. However, every single program is well-qualified. In contrast, in Korea, there are many universities which are striving to raise the number of exchange universities and colleges abroad, but there is no actual exchange, just formal paper. The aim of Sookmyung’s exchange program is to satisfy the quality of international exchange, expanding the regions to South America, the Middle East, and Africa. Sookmyung is specialized in leadership education and our external motto is ‘Global initiative for Asian Women’. The final goal is for the specialized field of Sookmyung to succeed not only in quality but also in quantity in the student exchange program. Also, the rate of exchange students’ applications this year was surveyed as 1.2:1 which means the number of schools is not that insufficient. However, to meet the demand for more global exchange, Sookmyung will be developed more and more.
SMT: What are the weak points of Sookmyung’s exchange program and how would you deal with them?
KIM: There are four points Sookmyung is concentrating on: balancing outbound/inbound exchange and strengthening publicity activities online and offline. In the case of this year, there were 180 outbound exchange students while there were only 70 inbound exchange students, an obvious imbalance of exchange. This may not sound weird as there is a big gap between the tuition fees of Sookmyung and foreign universities. Regarding the offline campus of Sookmyung Women’s University (SMU), there are few facilities that foreign students can use. Online Sookmyung is the first medium that exchange students can look at but it is still not enough to attract them.
We expect to solve the imbalance partly through the Sookmyung International Summer School (SISS). By inviting foreign professors and students and offering a chance for exchange through classes, the buddy program and homestay, foreign students would be given a chance to experience Sookmyung, which is a part of our publicity activities. To promote inbound exchange, dormitories for foreign exchange students would be expanded. Also, we’re planning to set up a ‘Global Lounge’ that not only exchange students but also Sookmyungians can use. There, foreign students will deal with their administrative affairs, and unlike similar existing facilities, you can utilize global language media including Chinese and Japanese. Regarding the curriculum, at least one foreign professor is planned to be employed in each department, so exchange students might have a wider range of options for classes. For online service, the English version is going to be improved to be more accessible for foreign students.
SMT: What other global programs are there at Sookmyung?
KIM: There are the exchange professor program, program exchange, leadership training course and international symposiums held at SMU. Above all, the program exchange may be most familiar to students. This winter vacation, there will be a Sookmyung global project for experiencing multi-culturalism. As the subtitle suggests?‘Let’s join the global classroom’-- I want students to regard this program as a global class by learning something different that they can’t normally experience at SMU. In the process of negotiating where to go and what to do, they learn what leadership is and that is part of studying different cultures. Since not all students can go abroad to study, I hope they can experience the real meaning of globalization through this project. Furthermore, with a series of procedures for becoming global, I strongly believe that Sookmyung will be a globally attractive university.