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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Hyokyung Kwak

Posted by: andrewst | April 20, 2021 | No Comment |

Hyokyung Kwak, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Dr. Kwak joined the Department of Political Science in Fall 2020.  We recently posed some questions to get to know her a bit better.

Dr. Kwak, were you born and raised in South Korea?

Yes, I was born in South Korea. I grew up in Seoul, the Korea’s capital, but I lived in Iowa for about 4-5 years when I was little.

What sparked your interest in political science?

One of the biggest and most important forces that operate on our lives is politics and government and I find it fascinating.

What drew you to the College of Charleston?

After talking with people during the onsite job interview, I could envision myself successfully developing my career as a teacher-scholar. Everyone I talked with showed enthusiasm in teaching and doing good for the community utilizing their scholarly expertise.  They were also optimistic about where CofC is heading with its core values. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to work with this group of people and eventually contribute to the community.

I also appreciate being in a warmer area near the beach.

Is this your first teaching experience?

I guest-lectured when I was in my Ph.D. program, but this is the first full-time teaching position I have held since earning my Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I am still in the process of developing my teaching style, and I am sure it will change and evolve over time.  However, for my 100-level undergraduate course, I’ve been trying to make sure students absorb key pieces of information by delivering a lecture, but also let students interact with each other and learn from their peers while engaging in small group discussion-based activities.

What has it been like for you starting a new job in the middle of a pandemic?

Starting a new job in the middle of this pandemic has been a mix of excitement and a bit of frustration.  However, I have been feeling lucky and grateful that I have such warm-hearted and caring faculty colleagues and administrative staff with whom to work.  Also, thanks to technology, I have been able to “meet” students via Zoom during the pandemic.  I cannot wait to return to normal and have more lively interaction with my colleagues and students.

How has the first semester gone for you? 

My first semester has gone okay although it was somewhat challenging.  Being nowhere close to tech-savvy, I was burned out as I needed to learn and be familiar with these new online-teaching tools.  A positive side of it is that this whole situation challenges me to think harder about how I can improve my delivery methods so that my classrooms can be more interactive and inclusive.  I was able to turn this challenge into an opportunity to learn thanks to the many people at CofC who are more than willing to help and share innovative ideas.

What research projects are you currently working on?

Continuing my research interest in welfare policy in the American states and expanding my research agenda to incorporate equality and equity concepts, I am working on a project that focuses on how second-order devolution (the flow of power and responsibility from the states to local governments) affects welfare policy outcomes.  Also, I am working on finalizing papers from my previous research which examines the dynamics of state welfare policymaking in the post-welfare reform era.

What do you consider unique about you, personally or professionally?

I always have thought that I has been lucky to live abroad when I was young and expose myself to many different cultures in my 20’s.  I believe these experiences have made me a person who appreciates diversity.

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