When environmental issues are complex and multi-faceted, environmental education needs to be multi-disciplinary, in such a way that science, socio-economic factors and cultural perspectives are considered in a holistic way. In view of this, Dr Jill Chiu, Assistant Professor of the Department of Biology, initiated an inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional project “Nurturing Global Environmental Leadership.” The project received a HK$3.98 million funding from the University Grants Committee for Theme-Based Projects on Teaching and Learning.
“Hong Kong is committed to developing its own Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Government has already committed HK$5 billion, bringing environmental training and education to the fore and creating an upsurge in demand for global environmental leaders to meet future challenges facing Hong Kong.”
The project involves scholars from across disciplines, such as Professor Chow Kwok-ching and Dr Chan Hon-man from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature. The University’s long-term partner, Baylor University in Texas, US, is its overseas collaborator and will send faculty members and students to Hong Kong for exchange. Besides, academics from City University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong and The University of Hong Kong will also participate in the project.
“We aim to use a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating science, socioeconomic and cultural dimensions coupled with various innovative teaching and learning activities to nurture students so they could become global environmental leaders,” says Dr Chiu.
In phase one of the project, apart from classroom lectures and discussions, participating students will take part in experiential learning activities and work on topic specific projects to train their critical thinking and analytical skills. “In the second phase, we wish to train 90 global environmental leaders who are able to understand the complexities of environmental problems, identify their causes, tackle the issues from different perspectives and communicate their ideas in a convincing way,” she says.
The project kick off is planned for early next year and the project will last for two years. Dr. Chiu hopes that this pilot study will form a role model for environmental education in Hong Kong.