'State-guided’ university reform and colonial conditions of knowledge production
The purpose of this study was to critically review the reform movement of Higher Education by the Ministry of Education and how its reform policy toward global competition has created a discrepancy between the knowledge produced and the needs of local society. The study found, first of all, that the state-driven reform policy has decreased the autonomy of South Korean universities, although the state, including the Ministry of Education, did not increase financial support. South Korean universities have enjoyed little autonomy in terms of financial expenditure, offering courses, recruitment of professors, the number of students, etc. Bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education are able to filter most of the policies and measures. Secondly, the study looked into the consequences of the policy emphasis of global competition. The governance and management of South Korean universities have again turned towards the 'business university,' rather than toward the research university and as such, tends to produce knowledge and human resources for immediate societal needs. To support these assertions, the study examined how the reform policies for global competition surrounding the emphasis of SSCI journals might produce globally competitive but also perhaps locally unsuitable knowledge. The study found that there is indeed a disjoint between the knowledge produced in the research sphere and the needs of the local society. Local researchers are compelled to adopt mainstream theoretical frameworks of North America and Europe in order to get their work published in the indexed journals. Local issues and problematics are subsequently neglected and/or relegated to the margins of pertinent academic research interests.
Myungkoo Kang is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Education at the Seoul National University. His publications include books and articles on discourse politics of modernization and politics of Journalism in various referred journals. He has been leading a research team on the oral history of broadcasting in Korea. He has published several works on the first Korean television and the Cold War in the 1950s. Currently, he is working on a book project, a cultural history of consumption in Korea, focusing on the material and cultural conditions of modern life since Korean War in the early 1950s. He has served as editorial board member of a number of academic journals, including Cultural Studies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Theory, Culture & Society, Global Media and Communication, etc.