▲ Professor and Dean of Green School, Lee Kwan-Young. Provided by Sohn Su Min.
Five years have passed since the establishment of the Green School, Korea University's (KU) graduate school that converges the study of policy making and technologies, and aims to develop and implement eco-friendly energy sources. While it provides a program that clearly shows KU's faith in building an environmentally sound science educational institution, it is not widely known to the KU students nor to the general public. Since Green School is in its heyday in terms of actively expanding the boundaries of its studies and programs, now seems to be a wonderful time to get to know more about Green School.
Green School is a graduate school operated by KU and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). As a think tank for developing strategies in the fields of energy, environment, policy making, and technology, its major goal is to train outstanding individuals with expertise in both fields of policy making and science, particularly energy. Adding to such integration of liberal arts and natural sciences, the Green School also allows its students to work as researchers at KIST while retaining their positions as graduate students. As the first program in Korea to allow such double affiliation, it is on its way to become one of KU's representative graduate programs.
Currently, the Green School research team has been operating in three major subdivisions as follows: the Clean Power Generator System sector, the Sustainable Urban Environment sector, and the Carbon Cycle for Clean Energy and Chemical sector. The main focus of the first division, the Clean Power Generator System sector, is to develop solar and fuel cells that would replace fossil fuels. While such new energy sources seem to need more research to be applicable in real life, the goal of the second sector is expected to be adoptable in a shorter period of time. Delving into research areas like urban drainage systems, climate change modeling, and air pollutant elimination systems, the school’s goal is to modify the metropolitan environment in a more eco-friendly manner. Finally, the Carbon Cycle for Clean Energy and Chemical sector puts weight on recycling and up-cycling available resources by emphasizing the importance of biochemical engineering.
While all three departments are each striving to produce impactful research results and projects, Lee Kwan-Young, the Dean of Green School stated, “The program the school is crossing its fingers for, is the Global Energy Technology Policy Professionals Program (GETPPP). The goal of GETPPP being constructing a global cooperative network in energy policy and technology development, we have been educating policy makers from diverse countries through the program.” While the GETPPP has to make further progress by expanding the program in terms of faculty capacity and course diversity, there is great hope that it will bring about successful results just as the works of the Green School, including 24 research papers acknowledged at top notch journals and 164 journals registered on the SCI, have shown.
Until today, Green School has successfully launched more than nine large scale projects that cost more than five billion won. All of the projects resulted in gaining an average value of 75 billion won. Among the most successful studies completed are “The Role of Government to Supply Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle in Korea and Japan,” “An Economic Analysis on Photovoltaic and Energy Storage System for Remote Islands: Case of Heuksando,” and “Analysis of energy security by the diversity indices: A case study of South Korea.” The value of such research is in the fact that it is a result of merging the three distinct fields of policy making, renewable energy, and cutting edge environmental technology.
Until now, Green School has produced 69 experts in the field of green technology with 64 masters and five doctors. The graduates entered into a number of different fields including technology development, policy making, and finance. Kwan emphasized the idea that in the near future, these specialists would contribute in building policies that would actually allow sustainable growth within and out of the Korean peninsula for a number of different societies ranging from enterprises and governments to international organizations. Until now, policy makers have been struggling due to a lack of expertise in fields of engineering and energy development. Through the integration of two different fields, the school is expected to produce experts that do not struggle from a onesided proficiency.
Adding to such advances in terms of research and human resource development, the Green School is widening its boundaries to the international science society as well. Starting with the first Green School International Conference held in November, 2013, Green School has been holding global conferences, forums, and workshops to share ideas about renewable technology with scholars around the world. In addition, as an effort to build worldwide networking with research institutions for training experts in energy and environmental research, Green School has signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) with other institutes in Singapore, Japan, Russia, and many more.
As Green School has been achieving remarkable results and is making improvements in gaining better financial support as well, it is expected to draw in more applicants from now on. This year, it has started its application process in April and is planning to announce the results this June. The three subdivisions are each in search of researchers that are willing to integrate their knowledges to develop a future plan for environmentally sound technologies, which would change the fate of planet Earth. Kwan mentioned that the school is looking forward to accept those with an openness to absorb a number of different studies, fluency in English, and a well established ground in their own field of undergraduate studies.
It is true that it is still doubtful whether Green School can keep up its great work, for it has only been a few years since its establishment. Yet, the fact that KU has been putting in a lot of effort to make the environment better itself seems to be worth praising. Kwan added that interdisciplinary studies are not about creating something original nor an independent field of study. Rather, it is a culture that allows the exchange of ideas and thoughts, which would eventually draw humanity to a different level of thinking. As a paradise for science majors interested in exchanging their knowledge and giving a concrete form to their ideas, the Green School will contribute in assuring Korea's greener future.