Geography is a broad and integrated subject with many areas of specialization dealing with human activities and the physical environment. Our curriculum maintains a good balance between the physical and human dimensions of geography and meanwhile emphasizes on the geo-information techniques including GIS and remote sensing, as well as the topics of resource management and smart sustainable cities.
For the programme curriculum, there are four concentration areas: (1) Geo-spatial Data Science; (2) Physical Environment and Resource Management; (3) Smart Sustainable Cities; (4) Urban and Regional Development.
This programme provides teaching modes which include classroom lectures, small group tutorial discussion, student presentation, experiments, case studies, and field trips to places like mainland China, North America, Europe, Africa, Australia and South-East Asia. The Mentorship Programme provides an opportunity for students to maintain close and direct interactions with professionals and gain working and life experience. Students can also take part in summer internship to gain practical working experience.
The mindscape of geo-visionaries is able to grow beyond their physical and cultural surroundings to address the environmental challenges for a sustainable future. So is the mindscape of Natalie Chung, a fourth year student in Geography and Resource Management (GRM). ‘I chose GRM as it is a multi-disciplinary programme encompassing diverse knowledge in the social and natural sciences. There’s a plethora of courses to choose from, and the curriculum structure is flexible enough for me to explore my academic interests.’
‘We equip our students with geographical knowledge and skills with an emphasis on effective resource management pertinent to the sustainable development of the humankind,’ said Prof. Fung Tung, chairman of GRM. “Resource management, particularly in the context of human-environment relationship, has always been the focal point of interest and inquiry in geographical studies. The ‘management’ element focuses on spatial monitoring, assessment and analysis, optimal allocation and utilization of natural and environmental resources.”
The human race inhabits an increasingly fragile physical environment, whose complex interactions require sophisticated analysis and sensitive management. Geographical science and geoinformation technology are therefore vital for inhabitants of our Earth. Natalie said, ‘Apart from practical skills like remote sensing, GRM also offers courses on geomorphology and global geography that groom students' analytical mind.’ According to Professor Fung, the curriculum focuses on the interplay of the four concentration areas that promote urban and regional sustainability:
- Geo-spatial Data Science
- Physical Environment and Resource Management
- Smart Sustainable Cities
- Urban and Regional Development
Natalie likes GRM’s close-knit learning community the most, where she has met many like-minded friends. ‘My first year of study at CUHK would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t experienced support from them. My classmates are diligent and smart. Many GRM students minor in Environmental Sciences and Urban Studies to widen their interdisciplinary knowledge. We are used to exchanging views and sharing discoveries in laboratory sessions, which are intellectually exciting.’ The department also encourages its students to take part in diverse learning activities, from joining exchange programmes to competitions, for holistic development.
Participating in the Hong Kong Tertiary Schools COP21 Challenge 2015 with a senior student was definitely unforgettable for Natalie. The challenge was to develop a proposal with feasible solutions to a specific climate change issue in Hong Kong. “We came up with the idea of ‘V’air’—an Airbnb-style online platform that encourages local travel by allowing individuals and groups to list tours available in Hong Kong. We were very honoured to have received the first prize from the Secretary for the Environment, Mr. K.S. Wong, and the Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, Mr. Eric Berti.” The team has been enriching the website with local attractions. Media coverage has also attracted some CUHK students to join the team. They are now using their expertise in language and photography to help edit the travelling articles and images. ‘I’m very excited to have experienced the synergy from working with people from various disciplines to combat climate change.’
The friendly and helpful faculty, who are always willing to share with us their knowledge and experiences, also impress Natalie. ‘Our relationship with the professors are more like friends.’ Each GRM student is assigned an academic advisor who regularly meets with his/her advisees on learning matters. ‘I have benefited a lot from interacting with my advisor, in such matters as academic rectitude and some life values.’ Professor Fung added, ‘Our colleagues are active in consultancy studies and play important roles in various advisory committees and professional organizations. Their life experiences can enrich students’ understanding of the role of geographers.’
Experiential learning such as field studies and internships is an integral part of GRM. ‘Besides formal lecturing, learning also happens in field studies and real-work environment,’ said Natalie. Under the supervision of the professors, GRM students conduct field practicum in Hong Kong, mainland China and overseas. ‘Immersing in field and real work environments are equally imperative as the experience helps us understand the real-world problems and supplements what we have learnt in class. All of us like field studies as the ecological and urban features along the way usually evoke endless discussions among trippers.’
As many day-to-day problems have a geographic dimension, job opportunities for geographers are diverse. Professor Fung said, ‘Our graduates play important roles in various fields, including business and finance, administration and management, education, information services, social services, travel and tourism, customer services, sales and marketing and human resources management. Some pursue studies and specialize in town planning, soil science, and environmental management, for instance. Quite a number of them are involved in academic and research work.’ Natalie aspires to engaging in postgraduate studies at Oxford University in the field of environmental change and management after graduation. She has also been appointed as a member of Council for Sustainable Development of the government. She said, ‘The ample real-life learning opportunities help me expand the skillsets required in my career path.’
Our society in the age of globalization faces pressing challenges such as resource depletion, population explosion, environmental pollution, and climate change. A solid understanding of these issues helps identify solutions for the sustainable development of human society. ‘Geographical education not only trains its students with interdisciplinary knowledge, but also professional skills and a forward-looking vision,’ explained Professor Fung. ‘A caring heart for the mankind’s sustainable future, curiosity in exploring and caring for the natural and built environment as well as a serious learning attitude are the sine qua non of becoming geo-visionaries.’
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2019