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New Faculty Joining KDI School: Meet Assistant Prof. Jinseong Park

  • Date 2023-05-25 17:54
  • CategoryNews
  • Hit300

KDI School is pleased to welcome Professor Park Jinseong to our esteemed faculty. With his strong background in economics, Prof. Park brings a fresh perspective and passion for economics and labor. In this interview, the team at PR division explores Prof. Park's academic career, research interests, and teaching ambitions as he embarks on the next exciting stage of his career at KDI School.

Hello Professor Park, can we meet you?

I earned my doctorate from the University of Tennessee. Immediately after graduation, I joined the Centre for Business and Economic Research (now the Boyd Center ) as a research assistant. The Boyd Center has an outstanding team of public finance experts like Bill Fox, Matt Murray, and Don Bruce. So it was natural for me to get involved with public finance issues. I was also interested in the consequences of growing economic inequality. Having grown up in a low-income family myself, I was curious about how economics could help the economically disadvantaged. A few years later, I began my career as an assistant professor at the Institute for Economic and Social Research (IESR) at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China. As a junior researcher, IESR was ideal for me. The institute offered many opportunities for learning and networking with scholars from home and abroad. Later, I transferred to Dong A University in Busan. This is the school from which I graduated. Since teaching and advising students were my main responsibilities, I thought about teaching methods and effective communication. Outside the classroom, I enjoy watching movies and listening to music. Literature, psychology, and science are some of the areas I enjoy reading books on.

Since joining KDI School, are there events or classes you have attended or taken on?

Yes, so far I have participated in the school's hiking event in April 2023 and the Korean Field Research and Study activity. Overall, I had the opportunity to talk with other faculty members, staff, and students of different backgrounds and nationalities.

On the subject of students, what courses are you currently teaching this semester?

I’ve just started teaching a new course, Social Protection and Work. The course is about a range of government policies aimed to reduce poverty and support people at risk. I will discuss key features of social protection programs, such as pensions, health insurance, and unemployment insurance, and discuss how those programs interact with the labor market. Also, I will teach how to evaluate the effectiveness of a policy empirically using policy evaluation methods. Ultimately, I want my students to be equipped with the knowledge and skills required for evidence-based policy making. 

Initially, I had concerns about how to meet the needs of students from different backgrounds. But I realized that this enormous diversity would provide great opportunities to learn more about different social protection policies around the world. Can’t wait for my next class! 

What would you consider to be your inspiration for academia and why KDI School?

I believe that education plays a big role in helping people out of poverty. I come from humble beginnings, but through the support of my parents and teachers, I believe that a good education had the potential to changes the course of my life. This academic path allows me to inspire students, regardless of their post-education interests, to always use what they learn to develop their personal lives and their country.

As a professor, my main responsibilities are teaching and research. I was looking for an environment that would allow me to excel in both. I heard that the professors at the school are very productive in terms of producing research output, but I had little information about the school's teaching capacity. To gain a better understanding, I watched a number of videos about the school on YouTube and was impressed with the school's commitment to effectively communicating with students and reaching out to individuals who might be interested in the program. Conversations with several professors assured me that the school is a place where good teaching is highly valued. Therefore, I thought it would be nice to be here. Also, my family members have a strong preference for Sejong City.

Speaking of delivery, what mode of class delivery do you prefer?

I am not sure I have a preference. You can call me old-fashioned, but I like meeting students in person, the atmosphere in the classroom. It’s just hard for me to watch monitors for a long time. 

What is your take on the use of Chat GPT? 

This is a very difficult question. I am generally open and positive about adopting new technology, including Chat GPT, and I believe we need to learn to live with Chat GPT rather than preventing its use. Chat GPT will greatly reduce the costs associated with doing certain tasks, such as summarizing and editing articles, coding, and looking for general information about topics, among others. What kinds of skills would be complementary to these low-cost tasks? This is the question that we all need to ask.

Personally, I use Chat GPT mostly for editing purposes. Also, I can use Chat GPT to find out what’s wrong with my STATA code when I get error messages. Sometimes it would take a nontrivial amount of time to identify a small coding error in the program, but now I can solve such problems within seconds. You can also ask Chat GPT to get a list of recommendations for music or TV shows. Recently, I asked Chat GPT “Can you recommend shows like ‘Anne with an E’ that parents can watch with kids?”, and one of the shows recommended by Chat GPT was ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ on Netflix. It turned out that my kids love the show!

However, when you look for very specific information, Chat GPT often gets facts completely wrong! One time, I ended up spending more than an hour to find out that an article recommended by Chat GPT does not exist at all. So, be careful!

How do you plan to contribute to the academic community at our school? Are there any initiatives, collaborations, or innovations that you are excited to be a part of?

Since I have been at KDIS, I have talked to a lot of people about a variety of issues, including automation and the labor market, environmental policy, gender issues, and so on. Developing research ideas and co-authoring academic papers are definitely the things I can contribute to the school with.

I recently joined a brand new research lab, the Inequality and Economics Policy Lab. This is a joint initiative between young scholars at KDIS and KDI. Together with Professors Changkeun Lee and Young Jae Kim, and three economists from KDI, I will be involved in researching pressing issues such as economic and health inequality and environmental problems. We are also looking for a better way to bring cutting-edge research to the general public.

SHOLANKE, Rilwan Olasubomi

2022 Fall / MPM / Nigeria

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