Dear GSIS Faculty and staffs, Newly-incoming students,
I am very happy to have you today as new entrants to the graduate school of international studies at Seoul National University. On behalf of all the faculties and staffs of GSIS, I would like to congratulate you on joining the GSIS.
You should be very proud of being a member of GSIS, because GSIS stands out as the best and most prestigious school in the field of international studies.
First, GSIS is best because GSIS faculty members are globally well-known, extremely talented, and socially well-connected. Professors you will meet in and out of classes are top-class experts in the field of their own study. Most of the GSIS faculties are recognized as specialists armed with theoretical and practical knowledge in their research fields, whether they are trade, security, business, area studies, development studies, or Korean studies. You should be very proud of your professors. I hope you have an eye for best-quality professors from when you start your career at GSIS, not later.
Second, GSIS is outstanding in that we have truly inter-disciplinary programs. Faculties of GSIS have eight different disciplinary homes: political science, international relations, anthropology, economics, business, management, sociology, and law. You will see how we can combine methodologies and perspectives of different disciplines to figure out very complex real-world problems of contemporary era. We also cover various regions of the world, including Korea: China, Japan, Europe, East Asia in general, Southeast Asia, North and South America and Africa. GSIS tries to cover international and area studies altogether to grasp real-time analysis of what is going on in and around East Asia.
Third, GSIS is robust and resilient in that we deal with contemporary issues, though our interest does not stop at contemporary ones. Even when we delve into historical analysis of the phenomena, we never forget to connect them with real-time issues of the day to grasp the directions, width, and depth of changes in contemporary happenings. I encourage all of you to read newspapers, columns, and journals widely while your main activity should be reading academic books and journals. You will see lots of advertisements on campus related to special lectures and seminars at GSIS. Please try to attend them voluntarily. I am sure you will get lots of wisdom at extra-curricular activities at GSIS.
At the same time, as the dean of GSIS, I hope you get away from a few myths and prejudices you may have at this stage.
Graduate school is not the place where you study only to criticize others. It goes without saying that acquiring skills of critical analysis is very important. However, before you criticize others and other perspectives, learn to respect others and different opinions. You are supposed to go beyond existing analyses rather than blindly accepting conventional wisdom. However, before you move on, comprehensively grasp what have been accumulated in the field of your study so far. Please do not exclude existing works on the basis of your pre-judgement, prejudice, and pre-formed conviction. Learning starts from the respect for well-known theories and competing perspectives. Still it is needless to say that your job is to find creative alternatives on the basis of critical imagination.
Some of you may think that GSIS basically teaches professional field of study. Learning skills and methods may be of your interest. However, do not forget that professional school like GSIS is a part of graduate school in general. Connect yourself to disciplinary knowledge while you are to tackle practical problems of the world. At the same time, some of you may concentrate on a certain area or country. Still broaden your knowledge about the issues and topics in other parts of the world. Try to develop comparative perspective before you end up with a single country analysis.
My final advice regarding GSIS life today is that you had better get away from a hearsay that you belong to a certain fixed department or major. Do not box yourself in a small wall of your major. Break the wall and get out of the trapped way of thinking that you are a student of a certain major. Please do not forget that GSIS has only one department: department of international studies. What you have is only a concentration of your study in the middle of widening your scope of analysis. Open your eyes more widely and cross the walls of majors so that you can get far-reaching view of global and regional issues.
I hope your experiences, learning, and social encounters at GSIS would be rewarding, enriching, and most of all enjoyable. Once again congratulations on your becoming a member of the GSIS. I welcome all of you.