Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Global Concerns Lead To New Programme

Teachers, architects and town planners will now be able to get a better understanding of environmental issues

Mary Luk – Updated on Jan 12, 2008 – SCMP

Why is air pollution in the Pearl River Delta so bad these days? How will climate change affect us? Is Hong Kong at risk of a tsunami? Do we have a secure long-term water supply? Has Hong Kong’s old landslide problem disappeared forever? How big an earthquake can we expect?

The Education Bureau, which is responsible for school curriculum, has responded to these growing concerns by introducing earth sciences into the new curriculum of the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) Postgraduate Diploma in Earth Sciences, the first programme of its kind in Hong Kong.

Andrew Malone, the university’s director of Applied Geoscience Centre, who contributed to the drafting of the new curriculum, said a cross-section of other universities were consulted in balancing and composing the content.

He said the course provided learning opportunities for school teachers requiring higher education in the earth sciences to enable them to teach the new senior secondary school curriculum which comes into effect next year.

The courses on integrated science, chemistry and geography in the new curriculum include a significant earth sciences component.

In integrated science there is “Water for living, Earth as a System, Weather, Energy and Air Quality and Exploring the Materials World”. Chemistry contains a module on “Planet Earth, Rocks and Minerals” and the geography course contains two elective modules on “Dynamic Earth” (earthquakes and plate tectonics) and “Weather and Climate”.

Professor Malone said the diploma also offered architects, engineers, surveyors and planners information about essential earth sciences to help them build a better and more sustainable Hong Kong.

“The programme provides more comprehensive knowledge on the various latest aspects of earth sciences to these professionals who are not likely to have learned them all in their early days of professional training at university. They might have studied some of them, but not specifically on Hong Kong’s situation. Our new programme, however, is tailor-made to Hong Kong’s needs,” he stressed.

He said town planning, for example, was related to environmental science protection and many environmental issues were connected with the Earth. A professional town planner who wanted to understand where pollution in Hong Kong came from must know the science behind the environmental problems. If they believed the source came from the mainland, they must understand how the wind blew and picked up particles in the Pearl River Delta that affected Hong Kong.

“Narrow town planners are those who don’t realise what happens in Hong Kong. They look at the maps in a two dimensional way. But good town planners should see the world – such as steep hills – in a three dimensional way. They must understand how nature affects the sites they plan. Professional town planners are expected to be able to think about these important impacts on Hong Kong.”

Similarly, he added, a competent architect would consider if the site under construction would be affected by typhoons – which is also related to earth science. The postgraduate diploma programme provided participants with basic science knowledge and looked at related issues more globally, he explained.

The programme will take 20 full-time (one year) and 20 part-time (two years) students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *