Interdisciplinary Social Science Education in Hong Kong: An Early Attempt

Dr. Betty Yung,
Ms. Cecilia Tsang,
Ms. Marta Dowejko
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The Hong Kong education system is characterized by ‘insularity’ here understood as the practice of streamlining and specialization in the Arts or Science streams in senior secondary school. This practice is further followed at the university level where the focus in on disciplinary research and teaching, without much cross-disciplinary integration. Two factors may explain why ‘insularity’ compounds the system. First, the Confucian tradition with its unquestioned respect for authority fosters the non-critical evaluation of educational ‘norms’ or practices. Second, the effort of teachers and students to cope with long and difficult syllabuses set during the colonial period as, arguably, a strategy used by the British colonial government to facilitate its rule in Hong Kong, fosters specialization and memorization as means of survival in the education system indirectly discouraging integration of knowledge.

In recent years, there have been incremental remedial measures to improve this, with the introduction of ‘broadening’ courses and ‘general education’ courses at secondary schools and universities. To further pursue this goal, the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong initiated the Multi-disciplinary Programme (MDP) in 2002. This paper explores the experience of the Faculty so far, evaluates its limitations and difficulties and provides a good foundation for deciding the future development of inter-disciplinary education and research both within and outside this University.

Keywords: Multi-Disciplinary Education, Liberal Arts, Insularity, Confucian Tradition, Colonial Rule
Stream: Other or Stream Unspecified
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Interdisciplinary Social Science Education in Hong Kong

Dr. Betty Yung

Teaching Consultant, Multidisciplinary Programme
Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Ms. Cecilia Tsang

Social Exposure Programme Coordinator, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Ms. Marta Dowejko

Research Assistant, Multi-disciplinary Team
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Ref: I06P0233