A better world is just a click away

Michael Gibb

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Would you like to invest in ground-breaking 3-D technology that preserves some of Buddhism’s greatest art treasures? How about sponsoring a project that seeks to discover whether suntan lotions are seriously polluting Victoria Harbour? Can you imagine helping to finance a process that turns waste paper into automobile fuel?
 
These are just a few of the innovative ideas that can become your personal projects via a new online donation scheme called “Invest in CityU Students and Projects” (iCUSP) that students and staff are developing at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) for the benefit of Hong Kong and beyond. 

Under the theme “CityU Wants a Better World”, the new website contains details of a dozen high-value interdisciplinary teaching, learning and research initiatives.

“We want more people to know about the highly creative work that our students and staff are pursuing through our Discovery-enriched Curriculum(DEC),” explained Professor Arthur Ellis, Provost. “The DEC seeks to give all CityU students the chance to make an original discovery. We also want to encourage our many friends and stakeholders, and especially our alumni, here in Hong Kong and further afield, to become investors in and ‘fellow travelers’ on these projects by supporting them financially and helping bring the projects to fruition. This is an important outreach initiative that will deepen our engagement with our community.”

Visitors to iCUSP are invited to click on hyperlinks to a selection of projects from different fields. Each project page includes a one-minute video introduction of the project by the staff project leader, an outline of the aims of the project, its funding goals, contact details, and a timeline. Donations that visitors make represent an investment in the projects and the students who are conducting them.

“Each project offers a particular way for potential donors to get involved,” said Ms Ada Leung Wing-yee, Associate Vice-President (Development). Once you are an ‘investor’, you will be updated on the progress of your investment and may have opportunities either to be a participant and/or receive some souvenirs connected with it.
 
One such example is “Antarctica! Exploring Extreme Environments Creatively through Art and Science”. This School of Creative Media (SCM) venture brings together science and media art to help better understand climate change and sustainable solutions in one of the planet’s most fragile environments.
In return for pledges of financial support, donors will have access to limited edition photographs and 3D printed artwork to be created from data collected in Antarctica.

“The expedition will start in mid-December and last for 16 days,” said Mr Scott Hessels, Associate Professor in SCM. “Students will conduct field research and collect data on the environment. After the trip, they will form artworks and visualisations that demonstrate the importance of sustainable solutions.” An exhibition is scheduled for May 2014 with a website and corresponding catalogue.
Opportunities to support social entrepreneurship are featured in Project Flame, directed by Professor Linda Wong Lai Yeuk-lin in the Department of Public and Social Administration. Here, donors can support student travel to other parts of the world where various models for social entrepreneurship have been implemented to inform the students’ efforts when they return to Hong Kong. 

Sustainability and “green” studies feature in several other projects. “Smart Homes with Zero Carbon Emissions”, which is led by Professor Henry Chung Shu-hung in the Department of Electronic Engineering, looks at green technologies for the home; “Biofuels Production from Food Waste” is organised by Dr Patrick Lee Kwan-hon in the School of Energy and Environment and investigates turning waste into energy; while two projects from the Department of Biology and Chemistry identify the risks to local waters posed by chemicals from skin-care products and the conversion of paper waste to green fuels.
Other projects showcased at the iCUSP website look at the establishment of a laboratory for music-making that can help individuals with no formal music training; and the creation of an archive for Hong Kong’s architectural heritage.

“We think the iCUSP initiative has enormous potential to connect CityU with a broader community,” Professor Ellis said.
New projects will be added when they reach an appropriate stage of development.

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