Grooming Useful Members of Society
Like every other teenager fantasizing about the world beyond her reach, Venus Wong always had questions hovering over her mind. How did the society run? How did the different facets of society function? What role could she partake in the community? If you have ever had similar thoughts and longed for answers, you—like Venus—may possibly be a good fit for the Department of Government and Public Administration of CUHK.
Four years ago, Venus decided to apply to the Department of Government and Public Administration in order to satisfy her cravings for liberal and open-minded intellectual exposure as well as to fulfill her aspiration to serve the community. She hoped that the curriculum would equip her with the knowledge and skills needed in this era of globalization.
The Department didn’t let her down. Aiming at offering a rich curriculum and a stimulating environment for students’ intellectual and personal development since 1970, the Department provides more than 80 courses in various areas, including Greater China studies, Research Methodology, Political Theory, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Economy, Public Administration and Public Policy. The courses, covering political, economic and social issues related to other parts of the world, grant a global vision to students.
‘The curriculum was rigorously designed to drill our thinking, and even to blow our minds,’ said Venus, ‘As the first political science programme in Hong Kong, the Department bears a legacy in offering a balanced and objective view of Western and Chinese political thinking.’
What Venus learnt from the Programme went far beyond her expectations. The comprehensive curriculum yielded an abundance of experiences to her: some of them dismantled and reconstructed her perceptions, while some encompassed her in thoughtful experiments drawing on hypothetical instruments. ‘Theory and practice are in no way separated from each other. Major contemporary schools of thought orchestrate our primary understanding of political science; comparative politics, international relations and public policy are disciplines complementing, if not blending with the theories. The guiding spirit is, I believe, the search for solutions.’
The courses are taught by 17 faculty members who are well recognized not only for their teaching but also their publications. Not only are they knowledgeable, they also care for their students.
‘Our Department admits around 40 students each year. The relatively smaller class size allows teachers and students to closely interact with one another in the teaching and learning process. Full-time teaching staff will be assigned to students as their mentors, coaching students in different aspects of their university lives from the very beginning of the Programme,’ remarked Prof. Carlos Lo, the Department Head of Government and Public Administration.
Venus treated the teachers as someone who can enrich her mind and soul, too. She explained, ‘Interaction is never lacking between staff and students here. Teachers have always been patient to advise on our academic progress, while many of them are also life mentors to us.’
The faculty staff, however, are not the only members that help maintain the sense of belonging within the Department. The students themselves also exert a large influence here. Student-led bodies like GPA Society organize numerous activities such as orientation camps and sport events. Students can gain academic and emotional support from their peers via participating in those activities.
‘I believe my academic nurturing would never have been the same without the company of my self-driven, intelligent and talented peers,’ said Venus, who treated her encounters with her schoolmates a blessing, ‘Many of my schoolmates take their initiatives in channeling knowledge into practice. The exchanges with them, such as the discussions and debates, have been enlightening to me, in both clarifying and reaffirming my thoughts and beliefs.’
Giving students an ideal nurturing ground has always been the ultimate goal of the Department, so they spare no effort in providing various kinds of experience to students. Every year, over 20 students are engaged in exchange programmes around the globe. The Department is also in collaboration with Warwick University in the UK, a prestigious university respected for its world-leading political science programmes, in offering short-term overseas courses for the students. In addition, the Star Project, with ‘integrating knowledge with experience’ as its aim, is very popular among the students. To the Department’s belief, the mentorship, internship, workshops and site visits organized in the Project are beneficial to students’ all-rounded development.
The courses, together with other activities, are deemed very precious experiences by the graduates as many practical skills, such as how to conduct environmental scanning, deliver public speeches and write policy briefs, make the graduates highly competent workers in various fields, including government, social and public organizations, business, and education sectors.
13% of the graduates in 2015 had pursed further studies. Venus was not yet sure what she would do, but one thing is certain of: ‘Upon graduation, I shall continue the pursuit of independent and critical thinking. Those cognitive abilities would be of great help in whatever profession I aspire to be in. I believe my generation should repay society with our services, dedication and contributions.’
Prof. Lo encouraged students who are keen on the pursuit of knowledge in political science and public administration, and who are interested in current affairs and international issues to apply to the Department of Government and Public Administration. A number of admission scholarships of HK$10,000 each, will be offered to those with outstanding academic performance.
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018