CityU enhances internationalization with new Department of Asian and International Studies

Grace Ho

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CityUniversity of Hong Kong has decided to create a new Department of Asian and International Studies (AIS) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Studies (FHS) with effect from 1 July 2006. The new AIS department will launch, in September 2006, a unique programme in East and Southeast Asian studies – the only undergraduate programme in Hong Kong focused on the economically and strategically important regions of East and Southeast Asia with an aim to nurture high quality graduates who are knowledgeable about contemporary developments and changes in these societies and the wider world.


Setting up the new department, CityU proactively responds to the internationalization agenda of the University Grants Committee and enhances the profile of both the Faculty and the University in Asian and International Studies on the global stage. “The new department will contribute to CityU’s internationalization mission through degree programmes, exchanges, out-of-discipline course, self-finance programmes and out-of-class activities,” said Professor Ian Holliday, Dean of FHS. “Currently, there are many international studies programmes overseas which form exchange agreements with university departments in other countries. The lack of such a department at CityU somewhat inhibits the University in extending its exchange activities.”


The new AIS department not only provides the best institutional setting for the Faculty’s taught programmes in regional and international studies, but also expects to attract students from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds world-wide with an interest in Asian societies, thus enriching the learning environment and experiences of both local and international students on campus.


CityU’s social sciences departments/programmes have been ranked 61st out of the top 100 in the world in a recent survey conducted by the Times Higher Education Supplement. Building on this achievement, the new AIS department will further develop staff expertise in East and Southeast Asian Studies, International Studies, Development Studies, including applied research and consultancy, and various subfields in applied sociology, such as education, ethnicities, environmental studies, family, gender studies, labour studies, migration, organization studies, politics, social stratification, work and religious affairs.


Professor Holliday said this would mean additional options for the Faculty and the University as they move towards a normative four-year degree programme, notably through specialization in International Studies, which could make an important contribution to foundation studies across the University. “It also extends CityU’s taught programmes and research profile in ways that are in full conformity with the role given to the University by the UGC which is located on the axis linking professional education and applied research,” he said.


There were intensive discussions and broad support in FHS for the formation of the new department. The interests of all existing stakeholders within the Faculty are respected. Current students in FHS taking the East and Southeast Asian Studies programme, alumni, students of the Community College of City University and some form six students had been consulted. Their support was overwhelming.


Subsequent to the creation of the new department, the existing BSocSc (Hons) Applied Sociology (East and Southeast Asia) programme will be divided into two separate programmes, provisionally entitled BSocSc (Hons) Applied Sociology and BSocSc (Hons) East and Southeast Asian Studies. The restructured programme in East and Southeast Asian studies that is to be transferred to AIS will form the basis of its foundation programme. AIS Department will also look for collaboration opportunities with other departments in FHS and outside that would like to provide minors, courses or inter-disciplinary programmes for International Studies students to acquire substantive knowledge in the social-economic, cultural and political developments in the region.


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