UPDATE : 2017.6.1 목 17:08

[Vol. 74] Diversity in Academics

박진수 기자l승인2015.12.10l수정2015.12.12 10:07

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  Today, thanks to democratic governments and prevailed liberalism all over the world, almost everything on earth can be a subject of study and we mankind are indeed doing so, from basic natural science to creation science, which explains birth of the world scientifically by words of the Bible. 
  Most of countries on earth including Korea of republic have guaranteed academic freedom in their constitutions. Then, would there be no hindrance to pursuing diversity of academics? Yes, there are as many hindrances as on the way of pursuing artistic diversity. 
 
  Like other things in today's society, academic diversity depends on political and economic interests. There had been various disputes among academic fields in Korea. The first thing that comes to our minds is, indeed, dispute of "State-made history  ." Because history and politics are closely connected in that historical context plays a very important role in defining political groups’ justification, explaining why had they done this and not done that in a very plausible way. In other words, having power in describing history means that he has the power that can change  For instance, Japan’s history textbook advocates and justifies all of their brutalities during World War II  in order to support Japan’s ruling party whose policies are based on conservative conceptions like readopting Self-defense-Force which needed pacific constitution’s reinterpretation. Accordingly, there is always tug-of-war among political groups to gain historical justice. The recent controversy about the history textbook was also just one of those kinds of tug-of-war among politicians. Meanwhile, historians had nowhere to raise their real voice stuck in between the two huge opposition parties. They might have tried to say something to keep their academic diversity with sense of duty as scholar but their voices were too easy to be voices of the politicians. In fact, scholars in academics have no such power to completely dominate the other side of the same field or directly influence entire society. That is so obvious when we remind us of old story of Galileo Galilei who insisted that the earth spins around the sun, not the sun spins around the earth against powerful Catholic church of his day. Even though earth’s revolution around the sun is absolute truth, he was almost sent to prison by the great church that he committed blasphemy. The same thing still happens even today.
 
  On the other side, not only political logic but economic logic also hinders academic diversity. For example, there are two major groups of doctors in Korea, in a form of western medicine versus Chinese medicine. Western medicine, as a dominant part in the health care market, keeps trying to emasculate the Chinese medicine with ways and means to completely dominate the market. They insist that almost every procedure of Chinese medicine and herbal medicine have no meaningful medical effect by presenting all the possible scientific evidence that can back up their insistence. It  in that they keep patients from being deceived by nonsense but in the view of supporting academic diversity, that could also hamper developing diverse alternative medicine, denying the whole Chinese medicine’s academic researches and achievements.
  While the pursuit of private interests harmed diversity of academics, the pursuit of public interests has also harmed it. The best example of this case is “liquidation of falter universities” of Korean government. It aims to remove incompetent universities and to leave only “Healthy and competent” universities. To promote efficiency is not bad thing to pursue. However, efficiency itself to be a basis of judging whether a university is “Healthy” or not is just unfair. In this point of view like marketers’, such a economical logic seriously violates academic diversity of whole society.
  Therefore, not to surrender diversity in academics, some French scholars have founded a NGO named “chercheurs sans frontières free science” in 2011. It helps scholars all over the world who has confronted with external pressure from political or economic organization. The founder pro. Garrigou said in an interview “From dictatorship to democratic country with guaranteed freedom, the authorities keep affecting on academics. Though so far, scholars did not really pose questions about it and that was because new type of power such as distribution of research capital, promotion etc made scholars do nothing against them.” and he also added, “to pursue universal academic freedom, we will be immediately there for the most desperate scholar to help him and support him. Academic freedom is not something that is given by someone else but by each of us, scholars. It starts when we try to face our actual situation at the moment and try to fix it.” 
  We mankind have developed our learning by letting manifold kinds of diversities bloom and perish themselves through history. If it were not for diversity, we would have lost so many inventions and technologies that we have today. Nevertheless we have no certain boundary of academic diversity. Though we can set how wide or how narrow our diversity’s boundary should be. Like pressure groups or NGOs like “chercheurs sans frontières free science”, if somebody wants more or less diversity in some area, he should do something or nothing happens. Diversity is made by people, by us!


박진수 기자  sz24@naver.com
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