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Korea Study Group

Yonsei University, Seoul Director Fall 2014: Professor John D. Palmer, Educational Studies

South Korea offers a dynamic experience for any Colgate University student due in part to its efforts to become a leader in the newly forming globalized world in which we live. South Korea is highly regarded for its rapid modernization, yet the people still hold to its traditional ways in mind and spirit. The educational goals of study abroad to Korea are multifaceted. While the focus will be on students development of educational studies theory and practice from a global perspective, students will gain a fascinating socio-cultural experience that offers direct exposure to: 1) a political arena where remnants of the cold-war era left the Korean peninsula divided for over 60 years and military coups ruled the country from 1960-1992; 2) an economy that is looked to as a model for rapid post-colonial/post-war development that resulted in South Korea being referred to as “The Miracle on the Han;” 3) an educational system that is attempting to move away from “high stakes testing” in order to develop future global leaders while at the same time holding to a “tracking” system; and 4) a country where the host language is not English, yet will find that English is used in nearly all government and social institutions, which will lead students to question the “power” and “privilege” of English around the world.

Host City

Seoul is the capital city of South Korea with a current population of over 10 million people (23 million if the satellite cities are included). Seoul is filled with traditions of old and bursting with the changes brought on by the new globalized economy. Throughout the city one can see artifacts of the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910) with the palaces, parks, and city gates, while at the same time have access to the burgeoning global economy throughout the financial districts. In 1988, Seoul was host to the Summer Olympics and in 2002 was co-host for the FIFA World Cup. 

Host University

Yonsei University will be the host institution. Established in 1885 by Christian missionaries, Yonsei is the oldest private university in Korea. Moreover, Yonsei's International School is one of the long standing aspects of the University, which now includes the Underwood College and Graduate School of International Studies.

"Yonsei’s main campus is ensconced in a spacious, picturesque and natural setting located minutes away from the economic, political, and cultural centers of Seoul's metropolitan downtown. Yonsei has 3,500 eminent faculty members who are conducting cutting-edge research across all academic disciplines. There are 18 graduate schools, 22 colleges and 133 subsidiary institutions hosting the most selective pool of students from around the world." 

Yonsei has a total of 29,951 students (18,824 undergraduates and 11,127 graduates). This includes 3,961 foreign students.

Academic Program

Students will be required to enroll in four courses during the Fall 2014 term. The Director will provide two courses for the students. Students will then take two courses from Yonsei. Yonsei offers a variety courses in English. One course must be on the topic of Korea or East Asia. Students will have the opportunity to enroll in courses taught in Korean upon passing a Korean language examination. Students will be required to enroll in a pass/fail three-week intensive Korean language course prior to the start of the academic term. The three-week term runs approximately August 6-27. During the Spring 2014 term, an introductory, on-line Korean language course will be made available to students on a non-credit accruing basis. Students are strongly encouraged to attend as the course will greatly assist them in their transition to Korea.

EDUC 440/ASIA 440 Special Topics in Education
In a seminar setting, students will design and implement a research project related to the field of educational studies and South Korea. Students will have the opportunity to gain field experience in a wide variety of institutions located within Seoul. For example, students interested in Educational Studies will have the opportunity to conduct research projects in public K-12 schools, public universities, and pre-schools. Students interested in social justice work will work with Yonsei University and their partnerships with Non-Governmental Organizations. Students interested in conducting research in the region will have the opportunity to study with scholars at the Institute of Modern Korean Studies and Korean Educational Development Institute. For students more interested in community service/service learning type projects Yonsei has contact with orphanages, elderly care, and homeless shelters. Overall, the seminar will take place once a week where we will discuss individual projects as well as Korean culture and society.

EDUC 308/ASIA 308 Comparative Education
Students will enroll in this advanced undergraduate course aimed at focusing in on the South Korean educational system. In addition, we will also begin looking at the influences on the Korean educational system and Korea's influence within the region. The second part of this course will expand upon the notions of globalization and internationalization as it relates to the field of education. Leading Korean scholars will provide guest lectures that relate to Korean and East Asian educational systems.

Yonsei University course pre-approval form

Field Trips

The students will have several opportunities to engage in both historical and present cultural and social activities as it ties in with taking EDUC 440. Within Seoul alone there are several palaces and museums (e.g., Kyungbok Palace, National Folk Museum, Changdeok Palace and the Secret Garden, the DMZ, National Museum, the Korean War Memorial). We will have the opportunity to visit and outside of Seoul we will have two overnight stays to Gyeongju and Soraksan.


It is expected that most participants will be sophomores and juniors in the fall semester of 2013. First-year students will only be considered under unusual circumstances. Students need not be Educational Studies or Asian Studies concentrators to apply. However, completion of either EDUC 101 and/or one of the following CORE Cultures courses is required of all students (CORE 165, 167, 178, or 182). Courses must be completed by the spring semester prior to departure. The criteria and timetable for selection of members will be mainly based upon the students’ maturity as well as activities that indicate the student is prepared to cross-cultural boundaries. Specifically, students will need to illustrate that they are open to new learning environments, especially environments where they may not speak the language and may be in the racial minority. Students will be required to submit a letter of application, resume, and two letters of recommendations. Students will be interviewed by the director.

Student Housing, Meals, and Transportation

During the three-week intensive Korean language program, students will stay in Muak Dormitory, a Korean style dormitory. Upon completion of the three-week program, students will the move into the international dormitory. Students will be responsible for their own meals, except for the occasional group meals on field trips and with guest lecturers. Students may eat at the student cafeteria or at many of the eateries throughout the city. The public transportation system is safe and efficient and most importantly, everything is written in English script. Transportation will be available to and from Incheon International Airport.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.


The deadline for applications to the fall 2014 Korea Study Group is Friday, November 8, 2013.  Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs website and are submitted online. Only finalists in the selection process will be interviewed. Interviews will take place before fall exams and will be arranged by e-mail. Student notification of selections will be completed during the week of December 17 – 21. Written confirmation of participation is due January 2, 2014.

Helpful Links

Informational Sessions

  • Tuesday, November 5 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, November 6 at 4:15 p.m.
Both informational sessions will be held in 6 Persson Hall

For more information, contact Professor John Palmer at 315-228-7291 or via e-mail at