Message from the Director of CETL – Grahame Bilbow

People sometimes ask me to summarise the work of the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) at HKU. The role of CETL, as I perceive it, is mainly to act as an intermediary between institutional teaching and learning strategy, on the one hand, and the day-to-day practices of teachers and students at HKU, on the other.

Our aim is to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between macro-level policy and micro-level everyday practice in the classroom. We function at what some have called the meso level.

The Teaching and Learning Connections newsletter similarly seeks to reduce the distance between macro-level policy and micro-level practice, by creating a meso-level platform for discussion and sharing of good practices. Since the launch of the inaugural issue of Teaching and Learning Connections in January 2016, I am delighted to say that four issues have been published, focusing on communities of practice, assessment and internationalisation.

The current issue (Issue 5) showcases exemplary interdisciplinary teaching and learning practices identified at HKU. The articles in this issue were contributed by authors from four different disciplines and the Common Core, and they describe how interdisciplinary teaching and learning practices have enriched students’ learning experiences, along with some of the challenges the writers have faced along the way.

As we look to future isssues of Teaching and Learning Connections, we shall continue to provide a forum at the intersection of strategy and practice, bringing together the ‘3+1 I’ (Interdisciplinarity, Internationalisation and Innovation, all converging on Impact) strategic goals with everyday teaching and learning practices in relation to curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and leadership.

In each of the forthcoming issues, you can therefore expect to find articles that bring together practical aspects of teaching and learning and each of the University’s strategic goals.

Starting from the current issue, we shall be building in a ‘tagging’ function that will help you keep track of, and refer to, these articles as they build over the coming months.

The newsletter depends heavily on you, teachers, contributing articles in which you share your innovative teaching and learning practices. So, if would like to contribute to future issues of Teaching and Learning Connections, you can use this matrix to plan your articles:

Theme of future issues /
aspect of teaching and learning
Curriculum Pedagogy Assessment Leadership
Innovation (Issue 6)        
Internationalisation (Issue 7)        
Impact (Issue 8)        
Interdisciplinarity (Issue 9)        
Innovation (Issue 10)        

Just in case you sometimes feel that the University’s strategic goals have a tendency to be treated as separate issues, I should make the point that these goals are sometimes inextricably bound together.

The relationship between interdisciplinarity and internationalisation is a good case in point. As Lorenzo-Zamorano (2009) highlights, interdisciplinary teaching and learning can be a means to develop intercultural competence among students, since the process involves the bridging and translation of disciplinary gaps, such as those between the cultures of the humanities and the sciences.

In the Common Core Curriculum of the University, the link between intercultural and interdisciplinary practices is therefore strong, a fact that is reinforced in Prof. Gray Kochhar-Lindgren’s article in the current issue. Common Core courses are not only multicultural in that they contain students with different cultural backgrounds, but also in that they contain students with different disciplinary backgrounds. Having a diverse group of students in the same classroom provides enormous opportunities for facilitating intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogues. Actually, at the recent workshop on intercultural groupwork, jointly hosted by CETL and the Common Core, we discussed several ways to facilitate such dialogues. The summary of the workshop can be found here:

I do hope you enjoy reading this issue on interdisciplinary teaching and learning. My thanks go to those who have contributed articles, and to those who plan to contribute to future issues.


  • Lorenzo-Zamorano, S. (2009). Cross-faculty interdisciplinary work: How to work with the ‘others’. In B. Chandramohan & S. Fallows (Eds.), Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (pp. 66-75). New York, NY: Routledge.
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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