HKU Annual Report 2023

31 30 HKU ANNUAL REPORT 2023 ADDING VALUE Technology is not the only area where students are being prepared for the future. The Future Readiness Initiative (FRI), launched in September 2023, gives first-year students a leg-up in essential soft skills and gets them thinking about planning their learning journey. It consists of two credit-bearing online courses on communication skills and research skills, involving 20 hours of screen and offline activities that students complete at their own pace. Both skills will be important for studies and future careers: employers’ value communication skills, while the vast quantity of data in the world means students must learn how to sift through it all and draw meaningful conclusions. It is also hoped they will become enthused about doing research. Communication skills are also promoted through the award of a badge upon completion of the ‘Communication-intensive Course’ (CiC) developed by a team of teachers from the Centre for Applied English Studies, Common Core Office and TALIC. The team help teachers of all disciplines incorporate communications into their course design and instruction, and the badge recognises success in doing so. FUTURE READINESS 132 faculty-level courses, 38 Common Core courses and 71 courses in English and Chinese language enhancement have received the badge. The CiC Team received an Outstanding Teaching Award (Team) in the HKU Excellence Awards for 2022. At the faculty level, individual teachers also encourage their students to look beyond their immediate circumstances to the wider world. One such teacher, Mr David Bishop in the Business School, was honoured with the 2023 UGC Teaching Award. The Common Core itself also helps students develop essential skills for the future, in particular the ability to dive into multidisciplinary topics, think creatively about their future careers, and be prepared for interdisciplinary research. All undergraduate students must take Common Core courses alongside classmates from other disciplines. In 2023–24, 176 courses were offered covering a broad span, such as Artificial Intelligence, Leading a Life Worth Living, the Evolution of Civilisation, and Digitising Cultural Heritage in Greater China. The ‘Introduction to Research Methods’ online course bridges the gap between abstract research concepts and practical application by offering hands-on exercises using real-world data, building students’ confidence in research skills. Dr Michelle Reyes Raquel (second from left), Mr Simon David Boynton (first from left), Dr Jack Tsao (second from right) and Mr Donn Emmanuel Ventura Gonda (first from right) were honoured with the University’s Outstanding Teaching Award for the ‘Communication-intensive Courses’. Mr David Bishop (left) from the HKU Business School receiving the 2023 UGC Teaching Award. Year 2 student Charis benefitted from participating in a research project in collaboration with an international sustainable business consultancy firm. The Future of Sustainable Business in Asia was launched in early 2023 as an undergraduate research project under the Common Core. Students did ‘horizon scanning’ for the Futures Team at the global consultancy Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), to identify new trends and phenomena that have the potential to impact stakeholder engagement, supply chain management, and internal operations. Year 2 HKU-PKU LLB student, Charis Chan Wing Tung, applied natural language processing technology to recognise greenwashing claims in company reports, a practice primarily used in banks for investment and insurance purposes. She benefitted from working in an international team of students and learning the importance of presentation skills. “It is easy to be fixated on one’s professional knowledge or research and forget that it is equally important how we present findings to the client. Through BSR’s feedback, we fine-tuned our work to discuss impact more comprehensively and advise the client, thus creating value.” Mr David Bishop of the Faculty of Business and Economics won the Hong Kong-wide UGC Teaching Award in September 2023, just a few months after receiving the HKU University Distinguished Teaching Award. His innovative teaching approach has students develop social impact projects that have enduring impact and provide solutions to a range of problems, especially those plaguing the developing world. About 1,200 students from 170 countries, many of them on exchange, have joined his Impact Lab which he founded about a decade ago. They have helped dozens of NGOs and helped create social enterprises such as Soap Cycling, Migrasia Global Solutions Ltd and EmpowerU. “I am really excited about the UGC Teaching Award. My only regret is that it was an individual award. We’ve got great people, a whole community, providing assistance and directly supervising our students,” he said. IDENTIFYING SIGNALS OF CHANGE UGC TEACHING AWARD WINNER 176 COMMON CORE COURSES IN 2023–24