In the spring semester of 2018, the class Liberty, Justice, Truth became mandatory for all first-year students. The Office of Academic Affairs, Institute for General Education introduced Liberty, Justice, Truth as a dream come true when it comes to college classes unlike the dominant format of classes today, Liberty, Justice, Truth requires active discussions, writing and presentations, just like how people might imagine a university course should.
Liberty, Justice, Truth was first created in 2017, but at that time it was optional and was taught somewhat differently from now. However, Liberty, Justice, Truth, is still taught in a very unique way. The course is composed of 7 kangs , or chapters, which are explored twice a week for two weeks. Each chapter discusses various topics including language, arts, rationality and desire, aiming to deepen the understanding of humankind.
Professor Cho Jaeryong (Department of French Language and Literature) explained the symbolism behind the course’s name. Liberty represents thinking on the individual level while Justice symbolizes thinking on the social level. Truth, on the other hand, transcends the social level and strives to understand the essential meaning of everything.
Four classes comprise each chapter. In class one, students listen to an online lecture—two videos about 15 minutes in length uploaded on Blackboard—that gives basic background information about the chapter. Chae Jihee (’18, Chinese Language and Literature) says that the “the video ends not by giving answers but by throwing out questions that students can ponder.” If a student posts two questions they have regarding the videos, class one is completed.
▲ The people behind Liberty, Justice, Truth in the Office of Academic Affairs. Photographed by Lee Che Yeon.
In class two, professors proceed by answering the questions students have uploaded on Blackboard. Through this question-and-answer (Q&A) session, the students can further understand the challenging content presented in the videos. Kim Yeojeong (’18, English Language and Literature) said, “80 students participate in this Q&A session, so I found it hard to actively participate. I hope this session becomes smaller like class three, so a lot of students will feel comfortable to share their thoughts.”
In class three, directed by a teaching assistant (TA), students are divided into groups of twenty for an actual discussion. Each subgroup will have a thorough discussion on the topic and present their ideas to the class. In the last class, each group gives presentations examining how the certain topic can be applied in real-life situations.
The general opinion about this course is that it indeed fits the image of a college course that students have. However, many are saying that the topics for this class are too challenging to understand, especially for freshmen like themselves. Chae said that the course is helpful because she has never thought about these topics in this much detail. However, “many students are stressed because of its difficulty and the number of assignments.”
The Institute for General Education stated that they did not want to lower the level of the class because they were confident that KU students can understand this class. “70% of the students are doing well in this class,” they declared, adding that “even the TAs are learning from the students.” Professor Cho opined that unfamiliarity and students’ concern are the greatest, but ultimately domitable barriers.
The Administrative Director of the Institute for General Education, Professor Dong Chion Zang (Department of Chinese Language and Literature) stated, “the team has prepared for this class since 2015, and is planning to apply students’ feedbacks to continuously improve this course. He summed up by saying that they are also preparing to create a class for exchange and foreign students as well.