International Politics from the Students’ Point of View
The book, ‘International Politics by the Public’ published by 17 students
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“International politics is too important to be left to the scholars,” quotes Professor Eun Yong-soo (Department of Political Science and International Studies) in the preface of his recently published book, ‘International Politics by the Public.’ In the book, authored by Eun and his 17 students, he suggests the necessity of cultivating diverse ‘narrators’ of international politics, thus resulting in “politics by the public” and not by the scholars. The book was the first step, a collection of 17 theses written and examined entirely from the students’ point of view -- i.e., the public’s point of view. The book is the first case in which undergraduates were the authors of a professional academic book.
The book, ‘International Politics by the Public’ was written and published by students from the 2019 Foreign Policy Study IC-PBL (Industry-Coupled Problem-Based Learning) class. The core purpose of the project, said Eun, was for the students to stand, not as a consumer of knowledge by scholars, but as a subject of narrating and producing knowledge. “Narration of the politics is extremely important, but the interpretation of facts hugely differ depending on who the narrator is. Although the research of formal scholars is important, it is very professionalized; therefore, there is a wide gap between professional knowledge and living knowledge,” said Eun. “It’s time that we need more than the popularization of studies. We need studies by the public.”
During the first eight weeks of class, students researched different topics of international politics. For the next seven weeks, they each selected what they deemed the most urgent problem, and analyzed its meaning, cause, and solution. The deduced topics were diverse, discussing international politics of Korea, Asia, and the world, including the foreign policy of the Moon Jae-in government, the multi-lateral security cooperation system of Northeast Asia, and global, environmental pollution.
As a first-year class, it was a challenge for many of the students to complete a thesis. The two first-year students, Jo Eun-jeong (Department of Political Science and International Studies) and Jeong Hye-young (Department of Political Science and International Studies), said the project almost felt like an unclimbable mountain at the start. “However, getting to author a book is a valuable experience, and we are very proud,” said Jo. Kim Ji-won (Department of Political Science and International Studies, 4th year) explained that it was exciting to be able to apply the theoretical knowledge onto a real-life situation. Another student, Hong Tae-ho (Department of Political Science and International Studies, 3rd year), agreed that it was a valuable opportunity to study deep into the topic he chose. “Also, listening to and discussing the topics presented by other students helped me to contemplate deep into other, more diverse topics of international politics.”
Eun said it was a meaningful experience for him too. “I remember every moment I spent making this book with students. There were hardships, of course. It was especially challenging to share the idea that not scholars but the ordinary public such as students can become the producers of knowledge. However, it will be a huge asset for students and a step towards the politics by the public,” said Eun.
Lim Ji-woo firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Ju-eun
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