Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I've been meaning to write this for a few days now. A close family friend passed away in a car accident last Wednesday. Death is not the best subject matter to post about and I do not want to put anyone in a negative mood, so this is to celebrate a great man and life.

I met Dean Gill-Chin Lim over twelve years ago through my parents. He was the younger brother of my father's close high school friend and a friend of my parents. At that time he was Dean of Michigan State University's International Studies and Programs, and a man of vision and incredible energy.

A gentle spirit with great poise and a strength of character that was tangible, Gill-Chin Lim definitely made an impact on this world. He served as Dean of the International Studies and Programs (ISP) for five years, and received an endowed chair soon afterwards. He was an MSU Endowed Professor of Asian Studies in a Global Context and a professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the School of Planning, Design and Construction.

Starting in 1997, Dean Lim spend a few years in Korea as the founding dean of the Korea Development Institute's new graduate school, the KDI School of Public Policy and Management.

After helping to establish the institution, he returned to Michigan State University and began the Program on Humanistic Globalization.

Taken from his welcoming letter:

"We are living in a very special time in history. Rapid transformations in all areas of human life are taking place in almost every corner of the entire globe.

After a long period of agricultural revolution and a few hundred years of industrial revolution, we have now entered information revolution. These revolutions have accelerated the pace of changes in human history and pose not only new possibilities for human betterment, but also unexpected risks and difficulties. Therefore, we raise the following questions: With all the advancement in technology and increased production and consumption, are we improving the human condition after all? How effective is our quest for peace, justice, freedom and affluence?

To answer these questions, we need to reexamine our value system from humanistic viewpoints. We need the fourth revolution in human history. It is “value revolution" to lead us to a truly civil society--a society in which all people are free from war, injustice, oppression, hunger and poverty.

Let me quote some of the leading thinkers of the contemporary world.

"The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will occur not because of technology but because of expanding concept of what it means to be human." -- John Naisbit and Patricia Aburdene, Megatrends 2000

"I have not lost hope because I am persuaded again and again that, lying dormant in the deepest roots of most, if not all, cultures there is an essential similarities, something that could be made--if the will to do so existed--a genuinely unifying starting point for that new code of human coexistence that would be fairly anchored in the great diversity of human relations." -- Vaclav Havel, the President of Czech Republic. (Civilization Thin Veneer, Excerpt from the Harvard commencement address, Harvard magazine, July-August 1995)

People who work with the Program on Humanistic Globalization believe that values are the key to guide the human beings into a brighter future. We believe the human beings have the capabilities to achieve the goals of a truly civil society. We thank you for your interest in our program."

Dean Lim was also a mentor and just a couple months ago asked me to help in his efforts to build his organization, the Global Association for Koreans Abroad, during the upcoming year. My prayers are for Dr. Lim and his family.

More on Gill-Chin Lim from press releases:

He founded the Council on Korean Studies at MSU. Also the Visiting International Professional Program was established during his tenure, as were the ISP's international awards ceremony, the Glen Taggart Award for Community Contribution and the Ralph Smuckler Award for Advancing International Studies and Programs.

In 2004, ISP awarded the first Gill-Chin Lim Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Global Studies, which recognized Lim’s academic legacy.

Prior to his work at MSU, Lim was a University of Illinois professor and administrator in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Institute for Government and Public Affairs. Before joining the Illinois faculty in 1985, Lim was an assistant professor of public and international affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 1980-85. He also taught at Northwestern University, was a visiting professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Environmental Studies and a visiting fellow at the Korean Research Institute for Human Settlements.

He was educated at Seoul National University (BS and MA, 1969 and 1973), Harvard (MA, 1975) and Princeton (PhD, 1987), Lim specialized in strategic planning, policy analysis and governance. He published and lectured on topics of comparative development, housing, environment, planning and decision making theories, and global education. He was the co-editor of the Journal of Planning Education and Research and an international adviser for the Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

UPDATE: Global Planning Educators Interest Group put up a memorial page on Dean Lim.

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