University Development Forum introduces learning outcomes of General Education programme

Jo Kam

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The Office of the Vice-President (Undergraduate Education) held a University Development Forum on 30 November to introduce to students and staff the learning outcomes of the General Education (GE) Programme and its benefits to students.

The Forum was chaired by Professor (Chair) Paul Lam Kwan-sing, Acting Vice-President (Undergraduate Education). Professor Lam pointed out that Hong Kong universities will convert the three-year undergraduate curriculum into a four-year structure in 2012. To meet the challenges, City University of Hong Kong (CityU)’s new four-year normative degree structure will enhance the learning experience. Of the minimum graduation requirement of 120 credit units, students must fulfil at least 30 credit units of GE courses, with the balance to be made up by the major, minor and electives.

The Forum was chaired by Professor (Chair) Paul Lam Kwan-sing, Acting Vice-President (Undergraduate Education). Professor Lam pointed out that Hong Kong universities will convert the three-year undergraduate curriculum into a four-year structure in 2012. To meet the challenges, City University of Hong Kong (CityU)’s new four-year normative degree structure will enhance the learning experience. Of the minimum graduation requirement of 120 credit units, students must fulfil at least 30 credit units of GE courses, with the balance to be made up by the major, minor and electives.

Professor Lam used references to a plant to demonstrate the roles and learning outcomes of GE course. “Major courses are like the roots which grow deep down to anchor the plant. GE courses are like the roots that spread into different directions, going sideways to take in water and nutrition. With energy supply from both depth and breadth, the plant, which symbolises our students, can survive in an ever changing environment.”

After Professor Lam’s brief but concise opening, the six course leaders and representatives of the GE courses, to be launched in the first phase from Semester B 2007-08, gave a brief introduction of their courses to assist students in the course selection process.

GE courses focus on three divisional areas of study, namely Study of Societies, Social and Business Organisation; Arts and Humanities; and Science and Technology. Students are required to take a minimum of three credit units from courses in each of these three areas.

Among the six courses offered, GE2201 Identity and Citizenship in a Globalised World and GE1201 Information Management and its Social Impact belong to the area of Study of Societies, Social and Business Organisation. The course Identity and Citizenship in a Globalised World aims to engage students in learning and debates about rights and duties of citizenship both at the local level and in non-local contexts. “The course will introduce the issues of corporate and organisational citizenship, and the contributions of various kinds of organisations to local, national, and global ‘responsible citizenship’ to students,” Dr Graeme Lang, Head of Department of Asian and International Studies said.

Nowadays, people are facing information overload. To face this situation, GE1201 Information Management and its Social Impact helps students to broaden their InfoIQ (Information Quotient). Dr Ron Kwok Chi-wai, Associate Professor of Department of Information Systems said, “InfoIQ is a conceptual, practical and technological ability to identify, retrieve, evaluate, utilise and create quality information for effective, efficient decision-making and problem-solving in furthering professional or organisational goals.”

Three courses are offered under the area of Arts and Humanities. GE1101 Chinese Cultural Heritage in Modern Perspective develops students’ independent opinions and insight of cultural issues. Dr Irene Tsang Shun-ling, Instructor of the Chinese Civilisation Centre, said, “As a modern citizen of the world, you must know what tangible and intangible cultural heritage is and what it means in the real life. This course uses an inter-disciplinary approach to teach students about the historical background, policy implications and presentation strategies.”

Film is also part of culture. GE1102 Cinema: East and West will give students a taste of the bigger picture of how film has developed from 1895 to today, as both a popular medium and an art form. Ms Cheung Suk-yee, Assistant Professor of School of Creative Media, described this course as a tailor-made course for both students with and without experience in film/media studies. “All students need to bring to the class is their interest in cinema. This course teaches students how cinema of the West and the East have influenced each other’s traditions through different eras.”

Apart from the cultural aspect, GE2101 Rational Thinking and Creative Ideas offers students a chance to exercise their mind and to think better. Dr Chan Ho-mun, Associate Professor of Department of Public and Social Administration, said, “Humans have a built-in capacity to think well in simple cases. If students want to have a philosophical reflection on the nature of rationality and creativity, and their mutual relationship, this is an ideal course.”

GE2301 Science and Technology: From Past to Future opens to both FSE (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and non-FSE students. It enables students to recognise the profound importance of technology and applied sciences in different aspects of our society. “This integrative course will also help students to develop an appreciation for scientific inquiry and basic skills such as critical reasoning,” Dr Cheung Ho-fai, Associate Professor of Department of Physics and Materials Science said.

Following the description of the six GE courses, Professor Lilian Vrijmoed Kwan Lee-ping, Dean of Student Learning, offered tips to students choosing their GE courses. “GE courses are designed to enable students to achieve a breath of knowledge through exposure to other disciplines. It will equip students with the broad range of skills and knowledge necessary for facing the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Students should choose the GE courses that best suit their interests and career ambitions.”

The two-hour forum ended after the Q&A session. Audiences discussed how the different levels of GE courses suited students’ abilities and interests. Professor Lam and Professor Vrijmoed said no pre-requisite requirements should be set for GE courses, and there should be a balance between the students’ interest and what ideal graduates should learn during their university education.

For more details on GE courses, please visit http://vpue.cityu.edu.hk/ge/

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