Interview with Do Young Oh

Researching the historical relationship between universities and the urbanisation process in East Asia

Do Young is a research candidate in the Department of Geography and Environment

Enjoy the advantage of being in London. You can always find ways to relax and refresh yourself such as going to a concert or gallery and walking through a beautiful park.
A headshot of LSE researcher Do Young Oh
Do Young Oh

What are you currently researching?

My research traces the historical relationship between universities and the urbanisation process in East Asia from colonial times to the current era. It conceptualises the university as an important economic and socio-political agent in the city. 

Based on my fieldwork in Korea and Singapore, my findings suggest an evolving relationship between the state, universities, and cities in East Asia. It also shows the diverse aspects of East Asian developmentalism that has often been understated as a homogeneous concept.

What attracted you to this area of research? 

Quite simple. My interest in this topic came from my personal experience as a long-time university student. All the universities I have attended - including LSE - have recently conducted large-scale campus development projects. I began to question the drivers of such projects and their relationships to broader society. 

How will your research improve or have a wider impact on society?

Much of the research on universities focuses on their economic impact on cities and regions and overlooks their political and social functions even though such functions have always been influential. By promoting a critical understanding of universities, we will be able to explore ways in which they can contribute to society more actively.

What do you hope to do career-wise, long term?

I am hoping to stay in academia as a scholar offering a critical approach to understand various aspects of society.

What are your top three tips to prospective students on the most effective way to approach research and keep stress levels down?

Have confidence in yourself. It might be difficult, but you should because you are a talented and deserving person. And, after all, we all can pass this stage well.

Enjoy your research process. I have heard from many others that doing a PhD is a rare opportunity in our lives to do a four-year long research project of your own.

Lastly, enjoy the advantage of being in London. You can always find ways to relax and refresh yourself such as going to a concert or gallery and walking through a beautiful park.

What resources are available at LSE to help young researchers?

The PhD Academy provides a lot of support for students. It is always a good idea to regularly check the sessions they are holding that can support your studies and attend them.

I also suggest fully utilising the LSE Library, which has a tremendous amount of resources. I remember I was quite surprised and pleased to find a series of publications by the Japanese colonial government in Korea in the 1910s. You can contact academic support librarians for advice on how to navigate the library.

What do you enjoy most about studying at LSE? 

While LSE is full of great people and colleagues, being in London cannot be underestimated for your intellectual journey. Many renowned academics regularly visit and you can easily meet and talk to them. You are also always welcomed to join other research seminars and events at neighbouring institutions. 

Moreover, London is at the forefront of urban problems such as housing inequality, but many people in London are working hard to tackle them. If you are an urbanist, you can learn a lot from the field and even devote yourself to support them.

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