“Happiness when differences become harmony… Diversity will become the standard for higher education.”

‘Our Thoughts’ by Yang Jae-ho, who won the Grand Prize at the 2019 Korea University Diversity Photography Exhibition. Provided by Korea University

As the number of foreigners residing in Korea exceeded 1 million last year, Korea is rapidly transforming into a multicultural and multiracial country. Currently, 2 out of 100 people are foreigners. Six out of 100 children born last year were children of multicultural families, and the share of multicultural births in all births recorded an all-time high. In foreign countries, the steps toward the practice of diversity are in full swing. The Hollywood Academy Awards (Oscars) added a diversity clause to the qualifications for Best Picture in September last year. 39% of Fortune 500 companies have an executive dedicated to diversity work within the company. Leading universities, such as Harvard and Stanford, have established a diversity agency for a long time to monitor diversity within the school. While ‘diversity’ has emerged as a hot topic in civil society in Korea, Korea University is the first private university in Korea to launch the Diversity Committee as an advisory body directly under the president’s office.

Develop diversity index and open curriculum

When the Korea University Diversity Committee was launched in 2019, the first task it undertook was to diagnose diversity within Korea University. The ‘Korea University Diversity Index’ was developed based on a survey of Korea University’s human composition, institutional and cultural environment, and awareness of diversity among all members. The Korea University Diversity Index is a number that shows how ecologically diverse the human composition of Korea University is and how much diversity the members experience within the organization called Korea University. In the 2019 survey, the professor group showed the lowest ecological diversity, and the employee group showed the lowest diversity perception index. The development of a diversity index is difficult to find precedents in domestic and foreign universities, and Korea University plans to conduct a survey every other year to track the increase or decrease in diversity. Korea University opened a course called ‘Diversity and Future Society’ to reflect the evaluation of undergraduates that diversity lectures and programs were lacking in the ‘2019 Diversity Awareness Survey’. This liberal arts course is an elaborately designed program to realize diversity in both content and form. In the lecture, experts who can talk about diversity in various fields hold special relay lectures. Scientists, social psychologists, designers, and advertisement creators share their concerns about diversity in their fields. Through group activities and discussion activities with 4-5 students each, the students perform a task to analyze the surrounding diversity problem, find a solution, and even put it into practice. The treatment of foreign students, students with disabilities, vegetarianism, homosexuality, and environmental issues were all covered. Kim Chae-yeon, Chairman of the Diversity Committee, said, “After the first course in 2020, we conducted a survey of students. He replied that he would recommend a class,” he said.

There is also a group where students practice diversity.

As a non-curricular activity, there is a program called ‘Changemaker’. This is a voluntary participatory program for students to come up with ideas to promote diversity in Korea University and put them into practice. Last year, based on the fact that 70-80% of students had similar dreams (career plans) in a survey of Korea University students last year, the company started producing, distributing, and selling ‘Dreamware’, a clothing that respects and supports the various dreams of students. activities were carried out This year, we are producing ‘board games’ and videos to think about diversity, and conducting interviews and surveys on diversity. Kyung-Min Kim (a fourth year in business administration), who is actively participating in the changemaker activities that meet once or twice a week, said, “I am working with the student support center for students with disabilities on campus and doing medical volunteer work to improve discrimination and realize the value of diversity in society as a whole. I applied for this activity because I wanted to add strength to my work. I was also able to think about how to find a solution to the problems I was doing,” he said. Heo Dong-yeon (a first year student at the Faculty of Government Administration) said, “I feel very meaningful and proud because it is a job that changes my surroundings, and I think I will have a feeling that I have grown a lot after the activities are over.” “I have a dream of becoming a lawyer in the future. However, when I become a lawyer later, I think this activity will be an important foundation.”

Changemaker's 'Dreamwear' campaign last year.  Provided by Korea University

Changemaker’s ‘Dreamwear’ campaign last year. Provided by Korea University

The Diversity Committee not only publishes a ‘diversity report’ containing educational and policy suggestions related to diversity every year, but also a monthly booklet. E, a Latin word meaning ‘diversity’, is written by experts from various fields such as companies, history, science and technology, and the media on the subject of diversity. The writings of , which had been distributed mainly in printed and electronic versions to school members, were compiled into a book titled (published in East Asia) so that the general public could also access it and published it earlier this month. This book, recommended by Professor Jae-Chun Choi and others, says that our daily lives can be a little happier when differences become harmonious. With this year as a turning point, the Diversity Committee plans to spread the value of diversity beyond universities and throughout Korean society. In order to become a ‘standard for diversity higher education in Korea’, we aim to lead the direction of diversity education and prepare a diversity education system. For example, it is preparing to be used in other educational institutions by writing manuals such as lectures for ‘Diversity and Future Society’. In addition, various activities and achievements of the Diversity Committee are shared through the official YouTube channel of the Diversity Committee so that anyone can use them. By Kim Ari, Guest Reporter [email protected]


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