HKU Bulletin June 2011 (Vol. 12 No. 2)

Celebrating 100 Years at HKU With Nobel Laureates and International Figures Nobel Laureates and distinguished scholars from a wide range of disciplines have been sharing their expertise, experience and world-class scholarship with the University community and the public. Poetry in life Professor Sir Andrew Motion , former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom (1999-2009), delivered the first lecture of 2011. Andrew Motion is an English poet, novelist and biographer. He has published 16 collections of poems, four biographies, and three novels. His autobiography, In the Blood: A Memoir of My Childhood , was published in 2006. The title of his lecture, 'Poetry in Life', gave him an opportunity to speak about the way that poetry came into and continues to form a central part of his experience (as a writer and a reader), and also to reflect on the ways in which poets transform the details of their experience to make their work. He also spoke about the way poetry should form a central part of individual and social life. The lecture was a mixture of the personal and the public, and looked in particular at his own practice as a writer. He also spoke about the writers who have meant most to him (and about whom he has written most about) - John Keats and Philip Larkin. Improving the quality of life worldwide Also in March, Professor Kurt Wüthrich , recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002, spoke at the University. Professor Wüthrich is the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Professor of Structural Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in California, USA, and Professor of Biophysics at the ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland. He spoke on 'The Protein Universe and Daily Life'. The determination of the human genome carries great promise with regard to improving the quality of life worldwide, and new advances are expected in agriculture, nutrition and healthcare. However, the realization of these advances must be based on detailed knowledge of the proteome and other gene products of the organisms of interest, in addition to the genomic DNA sequences. Professor Wüthrich's research team specializes in the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy for studies of the molecular structure of proteins. Currently the team uses NMR alongside protein crystal structure determination in the recently developed field of structural genomics. His lecture presented strategic aspects and selected results from the exploration of the protein universe using these techniques. Smooth sailing for the Chinese economy? On March 30 one of China's most renowned economists, Professor Wu Jinglian , a Research Fellow of the Development Research Centre (DRC) of the State Council, Deputy Director of the Advisory Committee for State Informatization, and Professor at Beijing University, explored the Prospects for China's 12 th Five-Year Plan , the theme of which is to accelerate the transformation of the economic development pattern. He said this theme is very appropriate and extremely important. The constraints on China's development - such as natural resource shortages, environmental damage, a surplus in money supply, an imbalance between investment and consumption, the emergence of asset bubbles, and increasing inflationary pressures - stem from an extensive growth pattern that relies too much on an input of resources and exports. Whether China's economy can develop smoothly under the 12 th Five-Year Plan depends mainly on progress in the transition to an intensive growth pattern driven by technological advancement and efficiency improvement. Professor Wu is a co-founder of Comparative Institutional Analysis in China. He has made important contributions to the theoretical foundation for the development of a market economy and the transformation of the economic development pattern on the Mainland. He advocates that the reform should establish a market economy, limit the business territory of state-owned corporations, develop private enterprises, and encourage multiple forms of ownership to compete and develop simultaneously in an economy with the rule of law and a democratic political system. Collective action: citizens coping together In May, Professor Elinor Ostrom , Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, spoke on Rethinking Environmental Protection and Politics . Professor Ostrom's research has revolved around how institutional rules affect the structure of action situations within which individuals face incentives, make choices, and jointly affect each other. During her lecture she explored the presumption that citizens will not cooperate to reduce the environmental externalities they produce, and that only governments can act on climate change. However, evidence shows that citizens are not always helpless and are able to cope effectively with many problems related to efficient use of water, forests, and other resources. Slowly, a new theory of collective action has been crafted. Instead of always recommending external governmental action, the importance of developing a polycentric governance arrangement on several levels - from neighbourhood and local community, to national or international governments - has been highlighted. Her lecture contrasted the conventional theory of collective action with a new theory being developed in light of extensive new evidence. Professor Sir Andrew Motion (second from right) Professor Kurt Wüthrich Professor Wu Jinglian Professor Elinor Ostrom (centre) News in Brief 03 The University of Hong Kong Bulletin June 2011