Seoul National University – Seoul, South Korea

In 2015, the Women Faculty Association proposed the establishment of Seoul National University (SNU) Diversity Council (DC) to the President of the University. DC promotes diversity among the people and management operations of SNU, and then creates a more open and inclusive university. DC is working with persons with disabilities, as proposed by national plan/legislation. SNU has access targets for persons with disabilities.

In the last two years the office has carried out different activities with regard to equal access/inclusion/diversity, namely:

  • Lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff, 
  • Public promotion (e.g. production of media content such as podcasts), 
  • Improving digital accessibility

In addition to activities to support inclusion, DC implements recommendations/guidelines to counter exclusionary and discriminatory practices at the university. The last innovative practice introduced by DC was to hold an annual diversity book/movie recommendation contest, and after screening, 30 books and 10 films are selected and exhibited at the central library for a month from May to June. This can be seen as an event with the meaning of reminding all members of the value of diversity.

At the time, the proportion of women among tenure-track faculty at SNU was very low, at only 15% , and it was judged that it was necessary to promote diversity including gender equality in the long term. This served as the main motivation to establish the office. The interest and willingness of the president and key officials in the need for a DC was a deciding factor in establishing the office. For reference, the DC is an advisory body directly under the president. The office can be considered a successful one based on the school’s budget support and the dedication of the council members and staff.
There is no national law or policy related to the Diversity Council in higher education. Seoul National University stipulates the establishment of the DC in the Seoul National University School Rules, and later enacted the Diversity Council Regulations.
The DC is composed of 15 members including the chair and vice chair. Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean of Student Affairs, Dean of Planning and Coordination, President of Faculty Council President, and President of Woman Faculty Association are ex officio members. In addition, student members, staff members, and external members are included. The DC is a very small organization with 3 full-time staff. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are explicitly mentioned in the DC office and in the university. In addition to regular meetings, there are two subcommittees. A working-level staff prepares a plan, and the subcommittee decides on the research project or event management plan through deliberation. The office is part of local networks. The Association of University Diversity & Inclusion Organizations (AUDIO) Council was launched in May 2023, and Seoul National University served as the first presidency. It has not yet started any activity.
The most difficult part of the work has been to stimulate the interest of members and involve them in various events. Expanding diversity education for students is the most challenging task. In the long run, further changes to school regulations are needed for the sustainable development of diversity organizations. Diversity perspectives must be stipulated throughout university management rules and regulations. DC funding is stable and is funded by the university headquarters.
Rather than being evaluated, DC submit their performance to various institutions within the school. For example, it submits its performance every year such as Gender Equality Promotion Performance Report, ESG report, and Graduate School Innovation Project Report. All activities are recorded and posted in the annual Diversity Report. Although the DC submits data to other institutions, in order to publish a diversity report, it requests diversity status data from 45 institutions on campus every January. After collecting data, statistical analysis is conducted and a report is published in June. The diversity report is widely distributed inside and outside the University.. In particular, it is distributed to all national universities in Korea. Among the above reports mentioned above, the Gender Equality Promotion Performance Report is submitted to the Ministry of Education, and the Graduate School Innovation Project Report is submitted to the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Seoul National University (SNU) Diversity Council

Seoul, South Korea