Higher Education in South Korea in the Era of the Digital Transformation and the Pandemic


Thursday, April 21, 2022, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


Online (Zoom)

SBS Distinguished Lecture in the Social Sciences 

event poster

Eun Mee Kim
President, Ewha Womans University; Professor, Graduate School of International Studies; Director, Ewha Global Health Institute for Girls

Chaired by Nicholas Harkness, Modern Korean Economy and Society Professor of Anthropology; Director, Korea Institute, Harvard University

Global megatrends such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (digital transformation), and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected universities around the world in unprecedented ways. These include university shut-downs, pressure for on-line classes, new fields of academic research and teaching, and infinite global competition for higher education. Universities in South Korea are faced with another challenge with demographic transition, which has presented fewer students of college-age compared to the number of admissions in universities. Government policies that controlled the number of college admissions have contributed to this presenting as a major problem in South Korea. As the President of Ewha Womans University, the largest higher education institution for women in South Korea and possibly the world, Eun Mee Kim has witnessed first-hand how such trends have affected universities, and how universities have struggled to find their new raison d’être in the rapidly changing environment. She will present how South Korean universities have responded, focusing on the case of Ewha, which has brought gender awareness to research and education in STEM, AI and other disciplines, and supported the education of women leaders from the Global South. As a researcher of international development with interest in various forms of inequality, President Kim will discuss how globalization and digitalization of learning is impacting the Global South through brain drain and heavy concentration of R&D in the Global North. She will discuss how the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Pandemic have affected women in ways that could have long-lasting impact in their education, employment, and power relations in society.  President Eun Mee Kim’s presentation invites us to think about the role that higher education can and should play in rectifying long-standing global inequalities that have been exacerbated with the digital transformation and the pandemic. 

To attend this online event, please register here.

Generously supported by the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) Endowment for Korean Studies at the Korea Institute, Harvard University