iSchool Exploration Seminar: South Korea

iSchool Exploration Seminar: South Korea
Co-authored by Kimberly Swenson and Danielle Trierweiler


Danielle (L) and Kimberly (R)

Danielle (L) and Kimberly (R)

The University of Washington iSchool Exploration Seminar, titled “Information, Technology, and Society,” was held in South Korea over late July-August of summer 2013. Along with several UW students from various undergraduate programs, Library and Information Science degree students such as SLA Treasurer Danielle Trierweiler (MLIS ‘14) and Secretary Kimberly Swenson (MLIS ‘14), enjoyed the amazing opportunity to travel to the city of Seoul and other major tourist sites while experiencing Korean Information Technology culture first-hand. Our sight-seeing took us to places like the port city of Busan, the infamous North Korean political border of the Demilitarized Zone (also known as the DMZ), and to several prestigious South Korean Universities, museums, and cultural hubs.

S. Korea

Seoul at night

As part of our seminar, we participated in a number of class sessions covering a number of interesting topics related to course title themes such as Korean history and tradition, social media research, and implementation of new technologies. Additionally, we kept personal travel blogs to record assigned activities and reflect on our experiences.

Libraries in S. Korea:
We visited four Korean major graduate institutions: Kyung Hee University (KHU), Seoul National University (SNU), Sungkyunkwan University (known by the acronym SKU), and the Korean Advanced Institute of Technology (known by the acronym KAIST). Of the four, we paid special visits to the KHU and SKU libraries:


Korean books!

We were able score a personal tour with one of the librarians (courtesy of the iSchool’s own Sam Oh and Matt Saxton), and were taken through the very basic layout of the library. SKU is somewhat unique in that its entire campus, and its structure and teachings were built upon Confucian teachings. The space was open and offered a blend of traditional print materials as well as several computer stations, reservable study rooms, and a media kiosk. Similar to UW Libraries own Microsoft-affiliated Suzzallo/Allen graduate library, the SKU library was also notably supported by major South Korean technology companies such as Samsung.
KHU: Although our time in KHU’s library was much shorter than SKU, we immediately noticed a traditionally Western-inspired design of the university buildings. The library was no exception to this design preference with a domed ceiling, several spiral staircases, a prominent reference desk and study carols.
Information Science in S. Korea:

At Seoul National University, we participated in a collaborative activity with our fellow UW and SNU Korean grad students. We engaged in some very interesting discussions; at one point, we broke out into small groups to share our perspectives of our respective country’s preferred search engine interfaces, plus our own individual information preferences, strategies, and search styles.

DaumScreenshot 2013-11-17 at 2.40.35 PM

Meet the Google and Bing of South Korea:


Final Impressions:
The seminar in South Korea was a valuable experience- we learned a lot about Korean heritage and culture, challenged our perspectives of both cross-cultural systemic and human-centered information design, took lots of pictures, and ate very well.

If you are interested in applying for this iSchool Exploration Seminar, feel free to contact us with questions or Associate Dean of Academics Matt Saxton!  Applications for iSchool Seminars have traditionally become available during Winter Quarter.


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