EDITORIAL: Preparing for the age of convergence

Rapid globalization, along with a surge in cutting-edge technology, have led to a world containing a hodge-podge of so many things, making it even more difficult to distinguish one thing from the other. The concepts of convergence and consilience have emerged in the spirit of the times in an age where the boundaries between the areas of industry, academics, and the arts have been blurred. With the emergence of the diverse, disparate, and capricious global consumer, there is a greater need to develop convergent technology, crossing the borders of existing industries and with products and services based on innovative and convergent technology like smartphones and Facebook. Convergent technology has become somewhat of a “calling” in this day and age.

When it comes to convergence, academic studies are no exception. You can no longer succeed by studying a single subject or discipline. This is an age when a variety of disciplines are in correspondence with each other, truly becoming interdisciplinary, leading to a creation of a new era, thereby giving themselves a competitive edge. It is not a strange sight to see CEOs studying humanities with scientists, engineers researching psychology and social science in addition to artists and philosophers having discussions with one another.

To most university students busy with extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and career planning, along with struggling to understand their individual subjects and major field of study, the idea of convergence may not seem like an unreachable dream. Fear may be the cause of hesitation on the part of students when it comes to following convergence when there is pressure to attain higher English proficiency scores and various certifications. Some universities have voiced concerns regarding convergence studies as it may lead to academic ambiguity for students taking convergence studies classes due to the establishment of these classes without an in-depth academic consideration.

So what do students need to do to prepare themselves in age of convergence? Is it learning how to deal with products and services that are powered by convergent technology? That is merely a function. Let’s start by defining convergence. Convergence can be defined as producing a creative outcome after solving a problem by utilizing knowledge from two or three fields which could not have been possible with knowledge from only one field.

According to this definition, the first thing that is required is an open mind towards other majors and fields of knowledge. There needs to be flexibility, openness, and the ability to integrate and compare a plethora of knowledge and ideas in order to improve one’s convergent skills crossing different fields of knowledge. The purpose is not to attain a double major or related major. Rather, it is to have the openness and flexibility to study and solve challenges by navigating other areas.

Next, it is essential to acquire your own ability and skills in your major field of knowledge. It is important to equip yourself with core competencies in your own field first before utilizing knowledge from other fields. With regards to the implications of convergence, a synergistic effect is produced after core competencies and knowledge have been mutually transferred. Therefore, personal capacity is essential when convergence is the application of your own core competencies in another field in addition to importing knowledge and competencies from another field to your own field. In fact, although there have been a number of successful cases of convergence, it can be said that there are more cases of failure. These cases of failure can be attributed to the combination of ambiguous knowledge and related fields. Whether it is an in-depth knowledge of your major or a special story, it is important to do your best to acquire your own knowledge and competencies.

Moreover, you should not be afraid to fail. People mature through failure. It is a well-known fact that President Abraham Lincoln lost many elections before being elected president. He became one of the most admired figures because he learned from his failures, eventually turning them into successes. Companies are no exception. Post-its by 3M were actually a failed invention due to its weak and sticky adhesive strength after the company’s attempt to develop a strong adhesive. 3M was able to produce an innovative product due to its corporate culture of allowing the development of ideas from failures and by not regarding these failed inventions as actual failures. Another leading company, Google encourages “failing gracefully.” Challenge and failure — is it not the privilege of youth? The youth of today should step up to the challenge and not be afraid to fail, which will ultimately give them a competitive edge in an age of convergence.

Finally, setting the right goals in life is the most important thing. Due to convergence, there is an eclectic mix of academics and theories making it even more difficult to distinguish right from wrong in our society, leading to an age of confusion and an ambiguous value system. Different values, philosophies, and concepts co-exist, and we are unable to distinguish our thoughts and values systems, entangled like vines in a jungle — like this are we living in an era of fusion. But if fusion is pushed to the extreme, it will only lead to confusion. The standard for unwavering values as a goal in life should be based on the right value system standing strong against diverse information and knowledge, with the ability to distinguish meaningful and valuable knowledge, utilizing it effectively thereby becoming a compass to a hopeful future. The social needs of convergence drive us like useful technology and knowledge to live our lives, as if we need to constantly strive for something more. However, the following story provides us a lesson on what’s more important in life.

There is a famous story of a boy in his teens with polio that has lost all hope in life. He receives the help of a doctor who is touched by a social worker who truly cares for this boy. The boy is able to walk after surgery and physical therapy. Many years pass when, by chance, the doctor meets the social worker and hears that the boy is serving prison time for murder. The social worker laments, “We only taught him how to walk, but we forgot to tell him where to walk.” This story shows us the importance of knowledge regarding goals for where our life should be headed rather than technology and knowledge for living our lives in an age of convergence.

Then, where can we find this right goal in life? It can be found in the Bible. The Bible declares God’s plan of providing each and every person with hope and a future. “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

In that respect, students here at Kangnam University are in an ideal environment to pursue the right goals in life. First, there is the regular chapel service where you can hear the word of God. Do not go to chapel out of obligation, but go there to connect with God. In addition, there are faith-based mentoring programs available to students in the form of counseling such as “character-building studies.” This counseling program will guide students in the right direction. Moreover, there is the tradition of practicing the founding principles of “Gyeongcheonaein” — “Revering Heaven and the fellowship of humankind.” As a member of Kangnam University, this mindset and attitude will always be a part of you wherever you go. Kangnam University has been and will always be the best place to set the right goals in life.

Convergence has negative implications such as confusion and ambiguity, but we cannot deny the fact that convergence has become the Zeitgeist or the spirit of the times. Convergence has transformed the social and industrial paradigm in a revolutionary way making it essential to prepare for these changes. However, we must not be swept away by the current of the times or be seized by irrational fear regarding convergence.

Having the knowledge and attitude to cope with these changing times will be the springboard for growth in an age of convergence. Having an open mind and knowledge in one’s own field, achieving one’s competency and knowledge in related fields, and not being afraid to fail with the guidance of God to set the right goals in life will help us all ride the waves of change, allowing us to safely arrive at the harbor of hope.

Translated by Julia Kim

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