The Education Ministry vowed Tuesday to double its funding to 6 billion won ($5.65 million) this year to promote humanities among the public through lectures, forums and other various events.
The outlay, up from 2.9 billion won last year, reflects the government’s efforts to help revive the waning field of liberal arts.
The ministry plans to hold weekly lectures by renowned scholars in fields including history, linguistics, philosophy and religion in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul. It will also support entry-level humanities classes for the underprivileged, such as low-income households, delinquent juveniles and homeless people.
Some 130,000 people participated in the year-long program throughout last year, the ministry said.
In October, the government will designate a “humanities week” devoted to the field, and on Oct. 30, it will hold the third World Humanities Forum.
During the second WHF, held in 2012, some 60 local and international scholars, lawmakers and writers gathered to discuss the healing aspect of humanities. They also talked about practical ways to promote humanities.
“The popularization of humanities provides a chance for citizens to easily access the field in everyday life,” a ministry official said. “The project expected to focus on the value of humanities, and contribute to its growth in Korea.”
Recent data has indicated that Koreans’ interest in the field of humanities has declined. A data by Seoul Metropolitan Government showed that an average Seoul citizen read 11.96 books in 2013, more than seven books less than 2008.
Experts have also expressed concerns that the Education Ministry’s recently-unveiled plan to restructure colleges across the country may end up hurting humanities departments.
This is because departments with low employment rates of graduates are to receive low rating by the government, and are more likely to be axed. Humanities departments ― which do not focus on skills like accounting or management that are deemed “practical” for job seekers ― have generally lower employment rates.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)