College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Department of English Marks Three Decades of Excellence

It was 1989 when the Department of English (EN) founded at the then City Polytechnic (the university title was granted in 1994). Time flies, and this year the Department is celebrating its 30th anniversary. 

When being asked to share remarkable achievements the Department has made, Head of Department Professor Diane PECORARI says, “The Department of English has, since its inception, been a global leader in English applied linguistics. Within the international research community, the department and the world-renowned researchers who are and have been connected with it are household names. Over the past decade, the department has built on this traditional strength and embraced literary and cultural studies, generating innovative research in English literature, communication studies and interdisciplinary research within the liberal arts more broadly. This allows us to offer our students the full English studies curriculum.” 

To mark the occasion, the Department presents a series of events including a gala held on 25 October 2019. It was set out to engage current and past faculty members, alumni and current students, show gratitude to its supporters and community partners, and draw public attention to its strength in professional communication and applied language studies. The evening was kicked off by the beautiful music performed by internationally acclaimed pianists Tony LEE and Lixin ZHANG, followed by a cozy reception. After giving her welcoming address, Professor Pecorari invited Professor Jack RICHARDS, the first Department Head of EN, and Professor Vijay BHATIA, a long-serving faculty of EN until his retirement, to deliver speeches. The three professors and all attending guests also toasted the future of the Department.

Professor Richards, Professor Bhatia, and another past faculty Professor Rodney JONES are also invited to speak at the Gold Leaf Seminar Series on three separate days in September, October and November. The theme of Professor Bhatia’s seminar on 16 September 2019 was “‘Fake News’ as Interdiscursive Illusion: A Challenge to Law, Social Media, and Free Speech”, highlighting some of the key challenges to law and free speech in today’s digitally mediated world. The seminar by Professor Richards on 21 October 2019, which discussed aspects of language teachers’ skills and expertise, was part of the Department’s outreach efforts. Coming up on 18 November 2019, intercultural communication and multimodality expert Professor Jones will host the closing seminar of this series which targets at professionals in communication roles. 

Looking forward, Professor Pecorari lays particular stress on responding with agility to the changing needs of the students, notably helping them acquire important transferable skills. “The professional communication skills we cultivate in our students, the creativity, the invaluable research and critical thinking skills they gain from their education all equip them for the flexible working practices of the future,” she says.