New General Education courses promise richer University experience

Craig Francis

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With 2012 looming as a pivotal year for Hong Kong universities when they convert their three-year undergraduate curriculum into a four-year structure, it is not just the duration of the study that is affected but also the emphasis and depth of content.

The new structure will enable students to gain in-depth knowledge through major studies with the option to take complementary minor or elective units. In addition to these will be the General Education (GE) courses, which focus on three divisional areas of study, namely the arts and

humanities; different societies, social and business organisations; and science and technology.

“The GE courses will broaden students’ horizons, increase their appreciation of cultural diversity and encourage them to become lifelong learners,” said Professor (Chair) Paul Lam Kwan-sing, Acting Vice-President (Undergraduate Education). “The GE courses will be much more substantive in terms of broadening their education.”

The first phase of the introduction of GE, from semester B 2007/08, will see students choosing from six GE courses (see table below) offered in conjunction with the out-of-discipline (OOD) courses. The gearing-up phase, from 2009 to 2012, will see OOD courses phased out and an estimated 40 GE courses gradually introduced.

GE courses will help students achieve the following learning outcomes:

i) develop communicative competence, critical and creative thinking, quantitative reasoning, and problem-solving skills;

ii) increase knowledge of diverse peoples and cultures, with the ability to interact with them;

iii) become scientifically and culturally literate;

iv) prepare them for active and responsible citizenship;

v) develop the capacity for lifelong learning.

GE courses, in essence, reflect the fact that to lead a fulfilling life against a backdrop of rapidly changing global needs and mainland China’s rapid development requires a wide range of skills and knowledge.

“CityU is all about producing graduates who are well-rounded, readily employable individuals but the University is not simply a job factory. Our aims go beyond that, to equipping students to contribute to the wider society as useful and valuable members of the community,” said Professor Lilian Vrijmoed Kwan Lee-ping, Dean of Student Learning.

With all the benefits of the new curriculum come a raft of challenges and tasks for students and staff alike to confront. Students must carefully consider just what courses will best suit their interests and career ambitions, while staff must acquire an astute understanding of the courses on offer in order to best advise their students, as well as contributing themselves to the development of new course content.

“In selecting appropriate GE courses, students should have some career

goals in mind when they make their choices - and not just copy their friends,” she explained. “The university can help but students need to take into account their personal interests, ambitions, skills and values.”

A University Development Forum will be held on 30 November, from 2pm - 4pm, at LT401, to introduce to students and staff the objectives of the GE Programme, its benefits to current students and to explain how GE courses help students meet the OOD course requirements. Professor Lam will chair the forum, while Professor Vrijmoed will provide academic advice to students. The six GE course leaders will give a brief introduction of their courses to assist students in the course selection process.

The six GE courses approved to be offered in Semester B 2007/08:

Identity and Citizenship in a Globalised World

Study of Societies, Social and Business Organisation

Chinese Cultural Heritage in Modern Perspective

Arts and Humanities

Science and Technology: from Past to Future

Science and Technology

Information Management and its Social Impact

Study of Societies, Social and Business Organisation

Rational Thinking and Creative Ideas

Arts and Humanities

Cinema: East and West

Arts and Humanities


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