SNU medical school ups humanities education

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Jul 23, 2014 - 19:57
  • Updated : Jul 23, 2014 - 19:57
Seoul National University said Wednesday it is planning to allow its medical students to take more humanities classes, in a bid to make them more empathetic and attentive and ultimately better doctors.

“The primary purpose of our education (program) is to foster doctors who can meet the needs of society,” said professor Lee Seung-hee of the Office of Medical Education at SNU. “For this, we are planning to pick students who have the personality and aptitude to work as a doctor. Then, we will educate them to obtain skills such as leadership, communicative abilities and morals as a doctor.”

Last year, Korea’s top medical school introduced a set of humanities classes on literature, history and philosophy. It said the classes contributed to the students’ personal development and helped them become better people.

SNU said it hopes to build on last year’s success to expand its humanities programs.

Starting with the 2015 freshman class, students will be required to take at least 20 college credits of humanities classes, not including Korean and English. The classes will be designed to get students to think outside the box and improve their ability to understand patients.

For example, in some classes students will discuss a certain topic over the course of a semester, training that can help them hone their deductive reasoning.

The Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association welcomed the decision by SNU, emphasizing the importance of character-building in education. “Most of the crimes in society stem from the lack of character education in schools,” it said in a press release.

The government has also stressed the importance of the humanities in education. The Education Ministry said in April it will double its annual spending to 6 billion won ($5.65 million) this year to promote the humanities among the public through lectures, forums and other events.

By Yoon Min-sik (