CityU faculty honoured for excellence in teaching

Mavis Wong, Michael Gibb, Christina Wu

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Three faculty members were honoured in the 2013–14 Teaching Excellence Awards at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) in recognition of their innovative and influential teaching.
The winners were Dr Elaine Au Liu Suk-ching, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Social Studies and Assistant Head; Mr Scott Hessels, Associate Professor in the School of Creative Media (SCM); and Dr Samson Young Kar-fai, Assistant Professor in SCM. 
The awardees introduced to the attendees at a luncheon, which was part of the 2014 CityU Discovery Festival, their innovative and influential teaching experience and discussed how CityU had supported their new teaching creativities.
Dr Au is in charge of student life and learning, and community outreach. Before joining the academic field, she was a social worker in family and youth work for almost 10 years. She started teaching at CityU in 1990.
Dr Au has integrated her counseling expertise into her teaching, and has devoted herself to helping the younger generations grow with positive values and attitude, both inside and outside the classroom.
“Through an experiential and realistic approach, students can learn the importance of being a whole person, with an understanding of freedom of choice, and our interdependence with different parts of society, and in turn learn how to make rational choices,” she said.
In addition, Dr Au wants to broaden students’ vision with a wide range of service projects, such as the City-Youth Empowerment Project, launched in 2005, involving students from the entire CityU community.
“The project supports the development of self-motivation at an individual level, and from there to a sense of the ‘macro’ self, involving the students in the community. With a macro vision, students can then identify the needs of and contribute to society at large,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mr Hessels taught at UCLA Design Media Arts followed by five years at the School of Art, Design and Media in Singapore before coming to Hong Kong. In Mr Hessels’s teaching philosophy, creative thinking is about taking a personal discovery and developing a concept that makes it universal.
“I believe fresh ideas come from unexpected intersections, and so I try to create situations for students to find a moment of discovery,” said Mr Hessels, who has coordinated two ground-breaking tours for the CityU Extreme Environments programme: one to the Mojave Desert and one to Antarctica.
He plans to continue exploring innovation, interdisciplinary practices and immersive experiences as part of his teaching, with a special emphasis on bringing the latest research into the classroom.
“I will continue to update my courses with cutting-edge theories and the most recent landmarks in contemporary media art. I plan to include students in all of my research projects in roles that engage and inform them on artistic practices,” he said.
The third faculty member making up the trio of TEA winners is Dr Young, a composer, sound artist, media artist and educator, who believes teaching should encourage students to unleash their intellectual potential.
“I try to encourage students to have the highest expectations of themselves in the tasks that they accomplish, as opposed to thinking of them as ‘assignments’,” he said.
To do so, he brings industry professionals, working artists, as well as relevant members of the general public into the classroom to scrutinise his students’ work. In fact, a significant proportion of the assessment of many of his class projects comes from professionals invited into the classroom, and his classes usually culminate with a public performance, concert or exhibition.
Dr Young has created many innovative learning opportunities for students, such as the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Musical Expression (LUME) where students design musical interfaces for disadvantaged groups in society, and CityU Electric Company, an electronic music orchestra, which allows students to create music and participate in public performance.


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