[Korea Herald 13.05.24]Soul-searching through humanities
Every Tuesday, a group of corporate executives and high-ranking government officials attend a lecture on humanities at Seoul National University. The program, named “Ad Fontes,” a Latin expression meaning “to the sources,” challenges the students in their 50s and 60s with fundamental questions about life.
The students have to tackle the fundamental issues surrounding historic figures and influential books while absorbing knowledge from a diverse spectrum of studies from Oriental philosophy to literature.
The first hour of the lecture on May 21 was led by Kim Jin-yup, an aesthetics professor at SNU, who explained how art can heal psychological trauma. The professor introduced Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis of two artworks by Leonardo da Vinci, “The Mona Lisa” and “Virgin and Child with St. Anne,” in connection with the artist’s childhood memories.
|Participants of Seoul National College of Humanities’ Ad Fontes Program hold up their textbooks during a class on Tuesday. (Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)|
|Students listen to a lecture on evolutionary psychology at Seoul National University. (Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)|
Not a single phone call was made during the lecture. Absentees are rare.
“Many of us have been living in a harsh working environment and fierce competition. But now I enjoy emotional well-being and regain my composure by learning about humanities, which have long been forgotten in my life,” said Kim Young-chul, senior executive vice president of Hana Bank and one of the 43 participants of the program.
Bae Young-soo, dean of the College of Humanities at SNU, said he used to be skeptical about opening such a course. The popularity of books and television shows on humanities also seemed to be a passing fad, he said.