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Beyond a Place to SleepA new residential college to improve Yonsei
Ahn Yoon-hwan  |  ahnsolo@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2007.02.26  15:14:39
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리

WHAT COMES to mind when you hear the term dormitory? Do you just think of it as a place to live within the campus? Your first impression is not exactly correct. A dormitory can serve more functions than becoming just a bedroom for students; it can also act as a secondary educational center, which teaches students subjects that are separate from their classroom lectures. This is usually defined as “residential education” and is considered effective in maximizing students’ academic levels; with planned education outside the classroom. Yonsei Univ. has just made its first move towards creating a residential education complex by establishing the Residential College at the Wonju Campus.

A first step in residential education - Yonsei 

  Maeji Haksa - Home for Yonsei Wonju Campus students  

   Yonsei Wonju Campus announced Korea’s first official transformation into a Residential College starting from the year 2007. It is mandatory for all freshmen entering the school from 2007 to take “Residential Colloquia” and a “Leadership Development Program," new courses designed for the Residential College.
Residential Colloquia is a totally new concept that did not exist before at Yonsei. Students in the dormitory are divided into groups of 20 members and they are encouraged to work in various fields and issues according to their own interests. Topics are selected by professors in different departments, from business administration to humanities. Students have to work in project groups and produce their own results.
   Another program that the Wonju Residential College prepared is the Leadership Development Program. Students join various activities, outside the classroom, namely sports activities, *dongahrees*, and voluntary social services. They will be graded according to their overall participation levels and effort. “Through this program, we require students to spend time in various activities other than just studying. They will experience more community life and learn to become part in it. I believe this will be very helpful for them in developing qualities that cannot be learned in class,” says Prof. Lee In sung (Dean of Academic & Faculty Affairs).
   However, these plans have not been implemented yet and their consequences have not been proven. “There can be some unexpected shortcomings that can follow this new program. We have no experience in this program and we are not sure about what might occur. We have to try our best in order to minimize those problems,” comments Lee. 

A successful case for residential education - Stanford

  Toyon Hall - One of the housings provided by Stanford  
   Stanford Univ. has a long history of Residential Education, tracing back to the ‘70s. Their mission of integrating learning with living is very similar to that of the new Wonju Residential College, extending the classroom to the residences and complementing academic curriculum with various activities. They defined some functions of Residential Education: most notably support for academic progress, leadership development, and social as well as personal development.
   The most notable program that Residential Education offers is the “Theme House Programs.” As the name suggests, the Theme House Programs consist of houses with specific themes, designed to provide students with in-depth exploration as well as an interactive educational experience. It is largely divided into three programs.
   Academic and Language Theme Houses include theme regions from East Asian to European Houses. In those specific Houses, students get the chance to explore those themes in a comfortable residential setting. They can interact with other students who have similar interests. Each of those Theme Houses prepares programs related to their themes ranging from preparing lectures, seminars to weekly Theme Language Dinners and projects. Cross-Cultural Theme Houses consist of four houses that represent four cultural groups in the US. In these Theme Houses, students participate in cultural activities within their themes and have an opportunity to learn the value of different ethnic groups and to appreciate the group’s culture. Focus Theme Houses are for students who want to examine certain areas like global affairs and environmental issues in greater depth. The Houses serve as forums for students to get together and discuss current issues as well as individual interests.
   Apart from the Theme Houses, Stanford encourages students to complete Program Planning. The students’ goal is to learn other residences’ preferred learning styles and create as well as present programs that suit them. Students can hold discussion sessions, guest speaker times, topical dinner table discussions, presentations, and even performing arts presentations. There is no limit to the format that students can use in producing their programs. By planning programs by themselves, students learn things that should be considered in structuring a program. This Program Planning is very effective in improving the students’ leadership and organizational skills.

Points to extract
   Various culture and language programs offered in the Theme Houses at Stanford are valuable aspects that the new Wonju Residential College can benchmark. In this world where globalization is taking place at a fast pace, understanding foreign culture and learning foreign languages are becoming a must. With reference to Stanford’s Academic and Language Theme Houses, it can be beneficial to establish a system used to educate students about foreign cultures and languages. Giving themes to different sessions of the dormitory and thereby providing students with space to discuss foreign languages and cultures may help them to gain more international qualities that they should have in order to become more competent in our society as well as on the world stage. Another important aspect that we can learn from Stanford is their use of self-leading studies. Most of their programs are led by students themselves. Program Planning is the best example of this educational technique. From the beginning to the end, students plan their own events and present that they have prepared. This should help develop students’ occupational skills, which are essential when they go out into society. 
                                                         *                *               *
   Yonsei ambitiously pioneered the adoption of residential education through this Wonju Residential College. This program is worth establishing when various research papers prove a current drop in the overall academic levels of college students. A more intense yet comfortable curriculum is sure to increase the volume of studies that students can intake. Hopefully, the Residential College of Wonju can become a good role model for the new Songdo campus as well as make Yonsei a true ivory tower.

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