Nurturing youth with cultural awareness

Ellen Chan

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Cultural heritage has become an increasingly important topic in the face of global development. To enable students to fully understand the subject, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) will introduce a new General Education (GE) course, "Chinese Cultural Heritage in Modern Perspective", in the coming semester.

Mr Li Guo, Senior Tutor of Chinese Civilisation Centre and Subject Coordinator of "Chinese Cultural Heritage in Modern Perspective", said the course aims to imbue students with the importance of cultural heritage.

"The importance of cultural heritage is defined by a dynamic process of continuous interpretation," said Mr Li. "In one sense, it is very similar to natural resources that have tremendous potential for exploration. However, if some parts of it are rather fragile and cannot be regenerated once damaged, we must be very careful to preserve it."

"In essence, cultural heritage is a component that does not only belong to one city or one country but to the whole world. For example, to pull down some historical buildings in Hong Kong may seem to be only an internal affair of the territory. However, from a macro point of view, these buildings are also the property of China and the world. Once demolished, they will no longer exist in the world. Hence, how a society treats its cultural heritage is a reflection of how developed it actually is itself," Mr Li added.

He said the course would closely examine the current status of the preservation movement and the utilisation of cultural heritage in China, including Hong Kong and Macau. Therefore, a particular feature of the course is for students to join an investigation to a Chinese cultural heritage site so they can learn the important principles and concepts of Chinese cultural heritage and understand its role in the economic and political context of today's society.

In addition, students are required to work on a research project to complete a detailed analysis and comparison of the features and preservation works of Chinese cultural heritage sites. Archaeological sites and buildings have been selected as examples of tangible cultural heritage for study in this course, while Chinese medicine and beliefs are the focus for intangible cultural heritage. This course will have lectures delivered by lecturers of the Chinese Civilisation Centre, which will be supplemented by lectures, tutorials and internet discussion.

The mode of internet discussion for this course will be different from other non-GEcourses. "Through participation in discussions of different topics on cultural heritage, students can develop analytical and critical thinking skills from various angles," Mr Li said.

At the end of the course, there will be a forum for invited speakers and students to engage in dialogue on cultural heritage. By applying what they have learned during the course and interacting with contemporary society, students can deepen their understanding of the cultural heritage concepts.

Worth three credits, the subject will mainly be delivered in Chinese. To accommodate non-Chinese speaking students, the Chinese Civilisation Centre will offer a similar course with English as the medium of instruction. Students’ performance will be assessed based on their participation in lectures, tutorials and internet discussions as well as their final assignment.

In addition to "Chinese Cultural Heritage in Modern Perspective", CityU will offer five other GE courses in the second semester of 2007-08, including "Identity and Citizenship in a Globalised World", "Science and Technology: From Past to Future", "Information Management and its Social Impact", "Rational Thinking and Creative Ideas", and "Cinema: East and West".

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