- A new approach for undergraduate education in the 4th Industrial Revolution Era -
“I want to become a neuroradiologist who transcends science, art, and humanities with creative thinking.” - Ms. Hyerin Oh, who is the first graduate of DGIST’s School of Undergraduate Studies, has been focusing on research through the Ph.D. program in the Radiology Department at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.
DGIST has a unique convergence education system that does not divide departments and schools, which allowed Ms. Oh to enter the Ph.D. course without needing to go through a Master’s program.
Ms. Oh said “During the interview, the faculty and staff at the University of Nottingham were surprised to learn that I learned not only basic subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology but also engineering software and statistical analysis which are important for radiology research.”
In 2017, Ms. Oh received the ‘Award of Korea’ from the Ministry of Education. She is recognized as a special talent who challenges and pioneers a new field with creative and convergent thoughts and behaviors.
[Figure 1. Ms. Hyerin Oh]
[Figure 2. DGIST undergraduate students, having discussions and exchanging ideas]
|Nurturing Talents for the 4th Industrial Revolution
DGIST’s non-departmental, single undergraduate school is considered a perfect solution for nurturing global talent required by the 4th industrial revolution.
All freshmen students receive national scholarships, live on campus to study basic science, engineering, leadership, entrepreneurship, humanities, arts, physical education, and philosophy.
This curriculum enables students to have wider and deeper convergent thinking across the different research areas, and to freely hold discussions and study together throughout the campus.
“The classes across different major areas greatly help me develop an integrated thinking ability across different fields of sciences, showing me the dream and direction of a scientist who contributes to a sustainable future.” - Mr. Yeong-jun Cho, a senior in the School of Undergraduate Studies.
96 students from DGIST’s School of Undergraduate Studies were awarded Bachelor’s degrees in February 2018, with 90 of them furthering their studies in top domestic and overseas graduate schools including DGIST.
Additional to this, DGIST runs an exclusive professor system for undergraduate students’ self-initiated learning. The 40 professors in the School of Undergraduate Studies are dedicated to teaching students, carrying out customized counseling for the students, guiding student’s research, and writing textbooks.
| Student Research Performances from Basics
The Undergraduate Group Research Program (UGRP) is considered the core of the convergence course in the School of Undergraduate Studies and has produced excellent results.
In the UGRP program, over a 12-month period 4 to 5 students form a team and perform a research project supported by 1 or 2 advising professors. This encourages cooperation and a competitive spirit with the students.
Advising Professors Hee-seung Zoe and Seung-ho Choe from the physics program worked with 4 students and published research results on the ‘distortion of cosmic background radiation’ in .
Professor Gyeung Ho Choi and YongSeob Lim from DGIST’s engineering school advised 5 students, who were ranked 1st for technical report, 3rd for design, and 4th for autonomous vehicle driving in the ‘International Student Green Car Competition’.
Assessment of the convergence curriculum has revealed much higher results than initially expected. DGIST plans to develop it into a top education model that can be applied both in South Korea and abroad.
“The outstanding achievement from the UGRP is the result of emphasizing a whole-rounded education for students to have competence in science and engineering research and have wisdom, affection, and justice as global leaders.” - Dean Choon Sup Yoon from the College of Transdisciplinary Studies
| DGIST’s Innovative convergence undergraduate program
[Figure 3. Scheme of DGIST convergence undergraduate program]
DGIST is a national science and technology institute first established as a research institute by the Korean government in 2004. It opened undergraduate programs in 2014 by launching College of Transdisciplinary Studies and School of Undergraduate Studies (SUS).
SUS is a unique educational experience in Korea (or quite possibly unique even in the world), which employs an entirely non-departmental, that is, truly transdisciplinary undergraduate education system. SUS offers a student focused education within a world-class research university, in which the faculty is exclusively committed to undergraduate education and their students.
Even the campus architecture supports this special transdisciplinary approach, in which the main building for SUS, E7 (or Consilience Hall), is an elongated structure literally spanning all six graduate departments at DGIST, allowing easy access to all academic facilities for SUS students and faculty. In this sense, form has very deliberately been designed to follow function.
SUS admits about 200 undergraduate students every year. The undergraduate student body forms a single unity without any departmental walls. Students study the basic sciences and engineering subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and computer sciences together with carefully selected liberal arts courses, along with physical training and music during their first two years. From their 3rd and 4th years, more advanced science and engineering courses are provided under the close cooperation with the faculty members from the graduate programs.
In addition, junior and senior students conduct research in groups of ~ 5 students supervised by 1-2 advisors through the Undergraduate Group Research Program (UGRP). The UGRP research topics can be suggested not only by faculty members and researchers but also by the students themselves.
Even though people in the world’s higher education sector expressed concerns on this non-conventional innovative convergence program when it was launched in 2014, more and more leading universities in Korea and abroad adopt convergence education system, encouraged by the success of DGIST’s innovative approach in education.