Editorial – Interdisciplinary teaching and learning: Progress at multiple levels – Tracy Zou

This issue of Teaching and Learning Connections aims to share with our readers some progresses of interdisciplinary teaching and learning at multiple levels at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). The current issue (Issue No. 10) is the third one on the topic of interdisciplinarity (the first two are Issues 5 and 6). Compared to my experience of assembling articles in the previous issues, I have identified a trend towards more intentional and systematic efforts in undertaking interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the current endeavours. An exemplar of the systematic approach will be the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) programmes launched in this academic year, which represent a significant and coordinated advancement of developing interdisciplinary education by HKU. Readers can refer to the article entitled ‘The pursuit of interdisciplinarity’ for details.

Meanwhile, the four articles that report interdisciplinary teaching and learning in specific courses have also shown thoughtful pedagogical designs that go far beyond bringing multiple perspectives to the course or grouping students with different backgrounds. In these articles, how interdisciplinary perspectives, thinking, and approaches are systematically embedded in the courses and how they lead to deeper student learning are explicitly stated.

Finally, we also have an article from Prof. James Cohn, founding member of Quest University Canada, who shares how Quest was established as an interdisciplinary university. Below please see a brief introduction of each article.

The Pursuit of Interdisciplinarity by Tom Barry, Samson Tse, Janny Leung, and Alice Wong explains how the newly launched BASc programmes can enable students to develop interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, and ultimately become global leaders and critical thinkers. If you only have time for one article in this issue, this is the one to read.

Using Film as Research Method for Students to Creatively Explore Hong Kong’s Urban Spaces by Nikolas Ettel describes the use of film as a research method for students to creatively explore Hong Kong’s urban spaces. Integrating film and architecture has provided exciting ways for students to engage in interdisciplinary explorations.

Randomised Clinical Trials (RCTs): A Multidisciplinary Approach to Teaching and Research by Esther Chan introduces Randomised Clinical Trials (RCTs) as adopted both to conduct research and train students’ interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in clinical settings.

Enhancing Critical Thinking through Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning by Shuang Wang reports how engaging students in interdisciplinary investigations has enhanced their ability to analyse various sources of information and thereby developed their critical thinking capacities.

Developing the Research-Teaching Nexus within a Transdisciplinary Open Platform Common Core Course by Mei Li Khong and Julian Tanner introduces an open platform for developing student researchers who take ownership of their learning by working collaboratively to generate solutions to global challenges facing the mankind.

Personal Journey of Taking an Interdisciplinary Perspective and Growing it into a New University by James Cohn will make a very interesting read if you are curious about what it takes to build a new university (In this case, Quest University Canada). More to that, the new university was established based on the premises of breaking disciplinary ‘silos’ and providing innovative, interdisciplinary education.

Would you like to share with us your opinion?
We are looking forward to hearing your opinions. Please email your views to us (tracyzou@hku.hk) or simply voice your opinion in the Poll through one click.

Would you like to contribute to future issues of Teaching and Learning Connections?
Please express your ideas through emails to tracyzou@hku.hk. I am happy to discuss with you and assist you in the publication process.

Preview of the next issue (Issue 11)
Issue 11 to be published in January-February, 2020 will focus on embedding undergraduate research into the curriculum. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, capstone designs, undergraduate research experiences, research internship development, student-led research projects/initiatives, student-staff co-developed research projects/initiatives.

Stay tuned with us.

Alice Lee
Dr. Tracy Zou

Editor of ‘Teaching and Learning Connections’
Assistant Professor
Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning
The University of Hong Kong

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