Message from the Director of CETL – Grahame Bilbow

I am sure that many, if not most, of you are aware that the University of Hong Kong has made impressive progress in advancing interdisciplinary teaching and learning. One recent flagship event in this area was the launch of the new Bachelor of Arts & Sciences (BASc) degree programmes. These degrees aim to develop future thinkers and leaders who are globally-minded and capable of addressing complex issues with their interdisciplinary knowledge and skills. This initiative promotes interdisciplinarity at a programme level, and I predict it will stimulate many more initiatives that encourage interdisciplinarity in curriculum design, pedagogy, assessment, and thereby enhance student learning.

In this tenth issue of Teaching and Learning Connections, we are pleased to share six articles that report interdisciplinary endeavours at different levels.

The first of them is a piece on the philosophy and design of the new BASc programmes, collaboratively authored by Dr. Tom Barry, Prof. Samson Tse, Prof. Janny Leung, and Prof. Alice Wong. This article, which represents the work of three faculties (Social Sciences, Arts and Science), illustrates how programmes and curricula can be constructed in such a way that students can navigate different pathways to develop their interdisciplinary thinking and global leadership capabilities.

Four further articles focus on interdisciplinary teaching and learning at course/ module level. Dr. Shuang Wang outlines an interdisciplinary approach to helping students develop their critical thinking through a Common Core course. Dr. Esther Chan shares her design of a summer exchange programme that develops students’ interdisciplinary problem-solving abilities in clinical settings. Mr. Nikolas Ettel explains how film can be used as a research method to enable students to explore Hong Kong’s urban spaces. Dr. Mei Li Khong and Dr. Julian Tanner have investigated their Common Core Open Platform course and identified a combination of elements that promote ‘transdisciplinary’ learning.

Lastly, this issue contains an article by Prof. James Cohn, Founding Member of Quest University Canada, who describes how interdisciplinarity can be fostered at institutional level. As many of our readers will know, Quest University is renowned for its innovative education model which facilitates interdisciplinary learning throughout the entirety of a student’s university studies. In this article, James shares Quest’s vision for programme design and unpacks some of the ‘secrets’ of designing a university education from the very beginning stages.

I am sure you will enjoy this issue on the theme of interdisciplinarity, especially for what it has to say about the rich potential for enlightened course design, programme design, and institutional planning. The various initiatives described in this issue are not yet connected to one another in a systematic way; however, I hope that, in the near future, closer connections will evolve that will integrate our approach to interdisciplinarity.

I have just one final observation, and that is that you will probably notice that all of the articles in this issue assume a close connection between teaching and research, the so-called teaching-research nexus. Indeed, interdisciplinary exploration is often associated with advancing student-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research. I am therefore pleased to let you know that we are planning a forthcoming issue (either Issue 11 or 12), which will focus on embedding research into the undergraduate curriculum.


More information of the BASc programmes can be found on the website:

Professor Grahame T. Bilbow
Professor Grahame T. Bilbow

Director, Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning
The University of Hong Kong

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