OVER THE COURSE OF HER STUDIES, Minju Kwon, a political science doctoral student, had a question: Might it be valuable for graduate students who focus on Asia to come together regularly? The discipline didn’t matter and Kwon didn’t have a concrete plan or structure in mind. She had a feeling that students would discover ways to support each other.
Turns out she was right. With organizational help from the Liu Institute, the Asia Graduate Working Group met at the Liu Institute starting in spring 2018, and the students who participated found a dedicated group of colleagues to give feedback on their dissertations and proposals, and weigh in on other projects and ideas.
“Each meeting, it was up to the designated presenter to decide what he or she wanted to discuss,” Kwon explained. “We had a range of disciplines: political science, sociology, anthropology, and theology. And we shared a variety of topics, which were all very interesting.”
For example, Ann Marie Thornburg, an anthropology doctoral student, shared her research about dog care practices in Bali.
Ya Sophia Su, a sociology doctoral student, shared her work on divorce in Beijing and the significance of gender in petitioning a contested divorce.
The group also helped Kwon and political science colleague Jeong Hwan Bae fine-tune a presentation about their research for the Liu Institute’s strategic plan launch event in March 2019. Their study, “Comfort Women and Their Right of Recognition: Remedial Responsibility of the South Korean Political Community,” illuminates the importance for the South Korean government to properly acknowledge and take responsibility for the hardships of these women.
“We circulated our presentation to the group members to get their feedback,” Kwon said. “It was really helpful to get their thoughts.” Kwon and Bae subsequently received an enthusiastic response for their presentation at the strategic plan event.
Kwon and the rest of the group members have new ideas on how to elevate the group in the coming years. “This group has not only helped us advance academically, but it has also enriched our overall experience at Notre Dame,” she said. “It’s exciting to think about expanding the group in the future.”