How Do Humanities Scholars Research?
How Do Humanities Scholars Research?
  • Reporter Park Seo-kyung
  • 승인 2013.03.20 23:39
  • 댓글 0
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Since POSTECH focuses on science and technology, most Postechians don’t know how professors of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences work and what processes are required in their research. Some students don’t even know professors are writing theses. By comparing humanities to science and technology, Prof. Jin Woo Lee, the chair of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, explained how and what humanities scholars research.
What is the field of humanities?
Humanities in a broad sense is the academic field studying the heritage of human civilization recorded in a language,  researching desirable society and meaning of life through language. Broadly it has three regions: humanities in a narrow sense, social science, and art. Narrowly, humanities contain literature, history, and philosophy.
Then what do humanities scholars research? How do they select a topic?
Since the history of humanities is so long, there are plenty of topics to study. For example, through political opinion the left and the right are divided. Then why are people separated by political opinion? What is the main value of each party? The left focuses on equality more than freedom and the right is vice versa. If so, are equality and freedom necessarilyat odds with each other? If someone asserts freedom, is equality diminished? If someone asserts equality, is the freedom of individuals violated? What is needed in society so equality and freedom can coexist? These become the topics to be solved through research.
How is the research proceeded?
Following the example above, I may investigate thoughts of existing researchers who studied about freedom and equality, or select a specific thinker to analyze, or survey  the present social opinions about how freedom and equality are realized. A thesis is usually 12 to 15 pages. It is quite different from an engineering thesis that presents the results of an experiment mathematically. In humanities, theses are generally written, compiled, and, once sufficiently studied, become a book that is normally about 300 to 400 printed pages. A written book signifies that a researcher is confident in his/her field of study and confirms his/her research.
How do the roles of researcher and assistant differ?
Since research of science and engineering is performed through observation and experiment, basically hardware is vital to research. Laboratory, equipment, researchers to operate a lab, and a professor are needed. Consequentially according to hypothesis or research topic, a professor operates a lab utilizing researchers. When results don’t have errors, they are presented as a thesis. Consequently, professors in science and engineering cannot research alone. In contrast, humanities scholars research alone. Though research assistants may collect references or copy information, assistants can’t analyze or research since idea about research is only in the researcher. A thesis also has to be written by the researcher himself. In the POSTECH Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, there are no research assistants. However in SNU and other high-level universities, there are one or two research assistants per professor.
Humanities has come to the forefront today. Please say a few words about this.
Now in management, Human Resource Management is on the rise. Human management is the key whether a company is successful or not. Knowledge of humanities- historical knowledge, literary imagination, and philosophical insight- is necessary to managehumans and becomes a leader. That is why the field of humanities is needed.