Some experts say that Korean students are among the most academically competitive in the world. Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) is Korea’s oldest university with roots in Seoul going back to 1398. IU students had a chance to share the scholarship of their Korean colleagues recently when 24 SKKU undergraduate students came to Bloomington to participate in a conference on economic research.
The presentations by students from the SKKU Department of Global Economics (where courses are taught in English) were highly technical—including titles like “Loss Aversion and Fiscal Policy,” and “Analysis about the Effect of Exchange Rate Volatility on Exports” –and highly professional, with reviews of research and methodology. Their conclusions suggested how interconnected the world economy is: Fluctuations in exchange rates (the Korean won is the most volatile currency in the world) produce fluctuations in production so that potential loss from one is cancelled by gain in the other. The U.S. response to its economic crisis of 2008 has indirectly benefitted Korea by making the results of Korean research and development of increased interest in the U.S. IU graduate students and faculty members prepared formal responses to the presentations, and a sizeable audience of advanced IU undergraduates questioned speakers and respondents.
Dr. Young Se Kim, SKKU chair of the Department of Global Economics, explained that the students had been working in groups for two months to research and to prepare their presentations. When they return, they will turn the presentations into formal papers.
The day was packed with nine research sessions and a luncheon presentation by Gerhard Glomm, professor of economics. Korean students joined American students at a dinner at the Global Living-Learning Center. “The dinner was a real success,” Kirstine Lindemann, conference organizer, said. “I have multiple requests for email addresses; students want to keep in touch.”
The College of Arts and Sciences hosted the conference and arranged for the Korean students to spend a day in Chicago where they toured the Federal Reserve and the Mercantile Exchange.
IU President Michael McRobbie visited the SKKU campus in 2008 to sign a university-wide presidential agreement of cooperation. Currently, SKKU has formal agreements with the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Informatics and Computing, the Kelley School of Business, and the Maurer School of Law.
This conference, one product of this institutional cooperation, provided the opportunity for undergraduates at both institutions to engage in a kind of discourse usually available only to professionals in the field. Lindemann travelled to Seoul last fall to interview SKKU students interested in coming to Bloomington. Another result of the agreement will come in March, when seven IU graduate students will travel to the SKKU campus in Seoul for a conference on graduate and professional education.