Young-Gil Kim has been the chartered president of Handong Global University (HGU) in Pohang, Republic of Korea since 1995. Prior to becoming the president of HGU, Dr. Kim was a professor of material science and engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) for 15 years. He worked in the United States in various roles, including at NASA-Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, on high-temperature alloys for aerospace applications. Among other commitments, Dr. Kim is a Member of the Educational Sector of Korean National Commission for the UNESCO. He has a Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. in International Management Honoris Causa from the Institute of Finance and Economics of Mongolia.
Young-Gil Kim, President of Handong Global University, which is hosting the UNITWIN Network on Capacity Building of Sustainable Development in Developing Countries, details the objectives and activities of the Network and reflects upon the contribution of higher education towards sustainable development.
“Higher education should train students with values such as honesty and integrity”
In 2007, UNESCO established the UNITWIN Network on Capacity Building of Sustainable Development in Developing Countries at Handong Global University (Republic of Korea).
Hangdong Global University (HGU) has been carrying out the UNITWIN Network mission through its founding educational principle of the whole-person, interdisciplinary education with a global view that is built on a solid foundation of ethics and moral principles.
The aim of this network is the promotion of an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation activities in the field of sustainable development, in particular, training in global leadership. Since 1997, four UNESCO Chairs have been established in the Republic of Korea, one in Mongolia, ten in Uzbekistan. The network enables cooperation among existing UNESCO Chairs in Asia, thus enhancing sustainable development in the region and developing a common base for collaboration.
The objectives of the cooperation program are to provide advice and expertise to assist all countries, particularly the least developed in the Asian region, in:
- establishing long-term cooperation among partner universities in capacity building and institutional strengthening in global leadership in business, management, information technologies and law;
- facilitating links between the member institutions through development of interaction and collaboration among partner universities as well as among related UNITWIN Networks through joint programmes, visiting professorships and student mobility;
- helping members of the network to establish an international cooperative research and training programme in global leadership in business, management, information technologies and law;
- developing methods of interdisciplinary research and development activities through knowledge sharing and mutual assistance in upgrading and further development of the existing academic and professional qualifications;
- permitting better-informed international recognition of qualifications;
- ensuring academic mobility of faculty and students with the aim of carrying out exchanges and establishing MBA Programmes between the participating higher educational institutions;
- facilitating the development and use of information and communication technologies;
- enabling members to update and upgrade their capacities through linkages with other universities in the world.
Apart from the host institution, Handong University, the network includes Kandahar University (Afghanistan), the Institute of Finance and Economics (Mongolia) and the "ISTEDOD" Foundation (Uzbekistan).
Since its creation in 2007, the network has been focusing on fostering the “North-South-South” cooperation to help bolster interaction between the universities from developed and developing countries and launched an entrepreneurship educational program in global leadership in business, information technologies and law. HGU believes that such holistic education is essential to bring up the future leaders who can address the world problems for a sustainable and comprehensive solution –the problems that are made up of complex, interrelated, and sometimes conflicting, multi-dimensional social, environmental as well as economic issues.
In the near future, the University is planning to create an education and networking hub, the UNESCO Global Education Park, dedicated solely for the UN’s higher education and networking for capacity building for sustainable development.
What is the UNITWIN Network on Capacity Building of Sustainable Development?
The UNESCO designated Handong University as a host university for the UNITWIN Network on Capacity Building for Sustainable Development. Our main focus is on fostering common activities between developed and developing countries, mainly in Mongolia and Uzbekistan, but also in Africa and Cambodia.
We are facilitating exchanges of faculty between these countries and Handong University, so that they can specialise in some specific fields, such as information technologies, global management and financial law. The Network has actually created a global enterprise entrepreneurship MBA integrating these three fields. Many developing countries prefer training with some broader view, rather than studying a specialized MBA. That is why, from the beginning, about three years ago, we focused on this multidisciplinary content and the interaction between North and South and this remains one of the main activities of the UNITWIN Network up to now.
Could you give us some examples of the work you are doing?
Every summer and winter and we have lectures and trainings going on. In Mongolia, we have been running over the last three years a partnership with the Institute for Financial Economics, which is the major university specialised in financial issues in Mongolia. The two institutions offer a joint MBA degree.
We also have very strong connections with Kenya, exchanging students, who, after finishing their degree at Handong, return to their country. We organized an entrepreneurship training workshop at St Paul University in Nairobi, with participants coming from eight countries neighbouring Kenya, such as Tanzania and Rwanda. Given the success of the workshop we will continue this activity this year.
With Uzbekistan, the Network has initiated a short term course on IT, global management and entrepreneurship. We did the same with students from Cambodia, a project that we are planning to repeat in the Cambodia Royal University of Law, in Phnom Penh.
How do you think higher education can contribute to this sustainable development?
In order to reach sustainable development, higher education has to reduce the knowledge gap, which exists between developed and developing countries. Higher education has to train students with global communication abilities, intercultural knowledge and interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary abilities. Universities have to connect science and education and have to educate students with values such as honesty and integrity. Team work is very important. So I would say that these are the conditions in which higher education can contribute to sustainability.
This article is based on a conversation held with the GUNI Secretariat. It is not a literal transcription of the interview. The full interview is shown in the video that accompanies the article.