[KS] korean studies at the university of california in jeopardy

Christine Hong cjhong at berkeley.edu
Wed Apr 23 00:17:59 EDT 2008

those of you who subscribe to this listserv might already be aware of
this, but arnold schwarzenegger's education budget cuts are imperiling
korean studies not only at uc berkeley but also within the whole
university of california system.  there currently is no major in korean
in berkeley's east asian languages and cultures (ealc) department; in
order for a korean major to exist and for graduate students to be able
to pursue an advanced degree in korean at berkeley, the department must
have at least two professors who specialize in korean, and berkeley's
ealc department does not meet even this minimum requirement.  this is,
without question, a travesty, given that berkeley is the flagship
campus in the university of california system--a school that both touts
itself as the major university in
the pacific rim and can boast of a near-majority of ethnic asian
students, amongst whom there are many koreans and korean americans.  the problem at hand, however, is less that berkeley's ealc
program doesn't have a major program, but that, with the governor's budget cuts, even the korean minor
program is threatened.  (i would add that departments like french are far less impacted, despite the statistical evidence pointing to declining undergraduate enrollment in french classes.)  at present, there is just one full-time faculty
member in korean--an assistant professor who is currently on leave. 
with the exception of this professor, all of the ealc faculty in korean
are language instructors; it is important to recognize that their temporary
hiring status affords them no longterm job security.  should they be
fired as a result of these budget cuts--as currently looks likely--ealc's
korean program, which sustains just a minor at present, will be utterly
decimated, unlike the chinese and japanese programs, which will be adversely affected but not disabled beyond repair.    

professor alan tansman, the chair of berkeley's ealc, has written the following public protest, which i pass along to you:
The Governor’s budget cuts have finally trickled down to the university
departments, and it seems that some were hit more than others. East
Asian Languages and Cultures received a 28% cut to what is called its
TAS budget, out of which 90% of our language teaching budget comes.
This means that for next year we will be cutting 40% of our Japanese,
58% of our Chinese, and 66% of our language classes. The most advanced
levels will be cut. In Korean, which right now does not have a Major
program, even the Minor program is under threat.  Chinese already turns
away over 100 a students every year; this will get worse. We will
likely have to “dumb down” the Chinese and Japanese majors to
accommodate the fewer classes we can offer. Also, we will likely have
to exclude from the classes all students not in the College of Letters
and Sciences (Engineering, humanities graduate students, law, etc.),
and perhaps all non-majors and non-minors. The cut is particularly dire
because every student cut from the program is cut not just from one
class but from all those that follow in the language sequence. Of
course these cuts mean firing qualified teachers, who are difficult to
find. Once hurt like this, the program will be hard to rebuild. The
level of cuts in other departments, and other language programs, is not
clear, but east Asian Languages seems to have been hit far harder.

i'm a postdoc here at berkeley in the english department--my name's christine hong--and i'm hoping to bring attention to and mobilization on this issue.  please feel free to contact me at cjhong at berkeley.edu with suggestions, advice, feedback.  many thanks.
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