Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC) is a research and international exchange institute based in Seoul, South Korea. It was officially launched in February 2009 in the backdrop of Asian Era, requiring enhanced understanding of other Asian countries and the production of new knowledge on them.
SNUAC fosters Asia research integrating regional and thematic topics. In 2017, it has three regional centers, seven thematic programs, and social science data archive (KOSSDA). Regional centers work on three regions in Asia covering Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. Thematic research programs include US-China Relations, Democracy and Economic Development, Popular Culture, Civil Society and NGOs, Asia-Global Economic Order, Environmental Cooperation, and East Asian Cities. In addition, social science data archive is collecting and disseminating empirical data across Asian countries. These research centers and programs are closely integrated, providing a solid foundation for deeper analysis of Asian society.
SNUAC is also fully engaged in building a global network of Asia scholars, nurturing next-generation experts as well as promoting other scholarly and educational activities. Its educational program includes: Global eSchool program, methodology training program, advanced introductory course on Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific College, and Research Internship Program. For the general public beyond the university, it has offered Open Lecture Series, Asian Cultural Awareness Program, and dispatched student groups to the Philippines as a part of its social contribution program at the global level.
Seoul National University Asia Center: Outline for the Arts, Crafts and Community Development project
In recent years, the new paradigm of art has emerged in that distinctions between “Arts and Citizens”, “Creation and Consumption”, and “Artists and Audience” have blurred, and the two agencies have evolved as they built trust and created communities together through collaborations. In other words, the art and culture helped develop individuals’ creativity and improve life quality as well as strengthen community connections.
Many researchers have claimed that today’s understanding of “art and cultural activities” should be expanded. In a broader sense, it should also include a development of self-reflecting citizens and encouragement of civic participation. And those cultural values and achievements would support the urban development, improvement of the citizen’s health and well-being as well as their social skills, and thus contributing to cultivation of creative industries.
Examples of civic participation of arts and culture through everyday lives and local communities
The art and culture activities through local communities may include community arts, community outreach and community engagement. The benefits of cultivating communities in art and culture may include development of community identity, improvement of people’s quality of life, health, well-being and social desire, as well as achievement of economic profit and local community development.
In Korea, good examples include the “Free Market” in Hongdae (from 2002 to present), and the “Living and Arts Creative Center” in Yeonnam-dong, which provides a gateway for individual creators and offers crafts training for the residents. Another example is the Changshin-dong’s Public Art project, “Re-Story” as part of its regional regeneration effort.
Asia crafts: craft and art industries
The interests in craftsmen have increased globally. A country’s traditional craftsmanship sometimes get evolved into an artistic masterpiece or into a commercial industry. According to Richard Sennett, a renowned sociology scholar, argued that although the word, craftsman may suggest a way of life that dwindled with the advent of industrial society, the craftsmanship is “a basic human impulse: the desire to do a job well for its own sake.” Sennett revisited the craftsmen and the culture of using materials as a new way to conduct life and social skills.
As the UNESCO World Heritage List has expanded in recent years, discussions have taken place increasingly on how to take the craftsmen beyond a mere status of the World Heritage and to incorporate them into the local communities. Thus, the focus has moved to the inheritance of craftsmen’s skills and techniques rather than craft goods themselves. Additionally, the interests in sustainable development via the craftsmen and culture have risen.
In this context of the craftsmanship, art, culture and community development, the Asia Center is in plan to collaborate with a fabric factory in the Philippines Towervile (located about 60 kilometers north of Manila, Philippines), and with the Yogyakarta Village in Indonesia where the locals produce handmade Batik Toulis.