POSTECH’s School of Convergence Science and Technology (SCST) will officially open with its first major in social data science in February 2021 following its establishment in October 2020. It is POSTECH’s latest undertaking to pursue various solutions to the common challenges facing humanity through convergence research, and to raise creative convergence talents with expertise. The major is set to open with two tracks – POSCO and SK Hynix. We speak with Kun-Hong Lee, the Dean of School of Convergence Science and Technology, to get the details.
What is the School of Convergence Science and Technology and what kind of research and education will it provide?
The School of Convergence Science and Technology was established to provide and conduct the world’s best convergence education and research based on a wide range of academic knowledge to foster creative convergence talent with practical expertise and to create new industries by securing key technologies based on convergence technology.
We are starting off with the social data science major that combines humanities and sciences. The goal of this major is to raise leaders who can solve social issues through systematic education based on data science. Under this major, POSCO and SK Hynix have opened their tracks and we are discussing opening more tracks with additional companies. We also plan to offer majors with the AI + X concept, which is the research of a field combined with AI such as AI + medicine, AI + finance, and AI + other industries.
This is POSTECH’s first attempt at convergence education which combines the liberal arts with the sciences. It must be a significant move for POSTECH.
In today’s world, the traditional boundaries of a nation – such as politics, culture, technology, economy, and national security – are disappearing. In particular, humanity now faces major transformations that they have never experienced before, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, AI development, and the imminent space-age.
It is an era where it is impossible to explain one field of study without mentioning other fields, and only a fraction of the whole can be fully understood and not the whole. It is an era that demands convergence. Convergence is simply the creation of a new field that combines and applies each separate field of science, technology, and humanities – and it is also the process of such endeavors.
POSTECH’s founding tenet bids us to contribute to the nation and humanity by conducting in-depth science and engineering research on the profound theories and wide range of applications essential to the advancement of Korea and the world, and training a select pool of talented students to become future global leaders through high-quality education. I think convergence education is the very key to realize POSTECH’s founding tenet to lead the change that mankind will experience today and into the future.
POSTECH is an institution with expertise in science and engineering – also a latecomer the scene. Isn’t that a disadvantage?
For the past 20 to 30 years, higher education has collectively focused on raising experts. This trend has led to a specialized society centered around experts, but it has revealed its limits. These experts are oblivious to fields outside their specialty – They struggle to make comprehensive decisions or judgments. This is why many are jumping on the convergence education wagon. However, there is no set path in convergence.
Getting a head start does not necessarily guarantee getting ahead just as starting late does not lead to falling behind. It means that POSTECH has accumulated ample data to seek new paths and decipher a better direction. We can forego that much trial and error.
POSTECH has meticulously prepared for this expansion through accumulating much knowledge under each major over the years. POSTECH is an open forum where 300 of the greatest experts have gathered. Every expert in the forum will discuss, communicate, share knowledge, and find the creative ways to move towards the right direction. Convergence is the common language that makes this possible. It is about acknowledging one’s expertise and adding a new field to it to create one anew. Isn’t POSTECH already demonstrating this capability by knocking down walls through the Mueunjae School of Undergraduate Studies and the School of Convergence Science and Technology?
How will the SCST be operated?
SCST presents a new paradigm in the field of future leading studies crossing the scholastic and industrial boundaries. For this, the school will take on the role of an incubator for development and activation of convergence education and research programs inside POSTECH. We will fully support these efforts by rearranging organizational structures, developing operating programs, appropriately allocating spaces and funds to stimulate convergence education and research.
For instance, at SCST, professors from different departments are free to gather to make new programs within the school at any time. This is an open approach to eliminate barriers between individual departments. We also plan to operate each program flexibly depending on the success of the programs. In addition, we plan to secure a convergence space at the university-level by rearranging spaces in new or existing buildings.