The Vantage Point is Asia, the Advantage is USC
From global epidemics; to developments in governance, technology, human welfare, education, art, public policy, and business; to the worldwide phenomenon of Korean pop culture, the panel sessions held at the USC Global Conference in Seoul, South Korea showcased the wide span of intellectual capital of the university’s faculty, and their deep ties to the research community in the Pacific Rim.
This panel and discussion portion of the conference included USC faculty experts, who invited many preeminent colleagues from all over Asia to join them in presenting a look into the future of their fields. The vantage point of the subject matter was highly focused on how Asian countries are the new epicenter for responses and solutions to some of the most pressing concerns of today: the growth of cities, the aging of the world population, infectious diseases, global economies, shifts in political power, and preparing for an increasingly technologically-driven future.
Special highlights of the two-day presentations included a special session on USC innovations in online education, a joint session of the USC Rossier School of Education and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The program, which featured the participation of 140 international students involved in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s iPodia program, was introduced and put into context by USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett, who gave an overview of the university’s strategic plan for developing online courses and degree programs—expected to double in the next five years.
The faculty-led sessions included the first ever participation by the USC Keck School of Medicine and featured faculty members Jae Jung (recipient of the Ho-Am Prize in Medicine in Korea), Andrew McMahon, and Carmen Puliafito, dean of the USC Keck School of Medicine. David Kang, director of the USC Korean Studies Institute, anchored the Korean peninsula perspective in his two panels—first starting with a panel on the political environment of the Western Pacific region, and closing on a lighter note with a second panel on “K-pop,” Korean pop music and dance that has become its own industry within the entertainment business of Asia.
This final panel of the day drew the intellectually curious and a music fan base, as one of the key speakers was Korean pop star Kahi Park, who gave an insider’s look into the industry.
After the discussions came to a close on Saturday afternoon, conference attendees and panelists came together for a final night of celebration and tribute during the closing night gala. In a spectacular setting—the stage set with traditional Korean drums, and tables brightly lit by lotus flower-shaped paper lanterns—the exchange of ideas turned into the deepening of friendships and professional ties.
Korean television anchor Theresa Rah introduced the performance of traditional music and dance by the Korean youth troupe, The Little Angels. Afterward, USC President C. L. Max Nikias made a special announcement, surprising the audience with the welcome news that the USC Women’s Golf Team had just won the NCAA championship, beating out their closest competition by a 21-stroke lead. The icing on the cake of this announcement? The win was led by Korean American freshman Annie Park.
As the evening drew to a close, President Nikias, with USC Board of Trustees chairman Edward P. Roski, presented a special honor to USC Trustee and conference co-chair Y.H. Cho, for his many years of work in helping the USC Trojan Family in successful ventures across both sides of the Pacific.
The USC Global Conference will return to Asia in 2015 in Shanghai, China.