Using Cultural Differences to Teach Critical Thinking in General Education

Using Cultural Differences to Teach Critical Thinking in General Education

Speaker: Prof. Joseph Bosco (Department of Anthropology)
Date: 2 March 2015 (Monday)
Language: English

Anthropologists typically go to another culture, suffer culture shock and learn a different way to see the world, then come back and tell others about it. This idea that “the world does not need to be the way it is now” is at the heart of anthropology, and helps us understand the role of culture in our lives. Cultural assumptions are invisible to people who use them every day. Most of us accept culture as “the way we do things around here” and do not see or question our culture. Part of critical thinking is helping students see their—and other societies’—cultures.

In this GE lunch seminar, the speaker will

  1. discuss what anthropologists mean by “critical thinking” and explain how they go about teaching it in GE courses;
  2. use examples from common topics such as nationalism, magic, and sports to examine how these issues need to be taught so as to cultivate wisdom to students rather than just making them learn facts for exams;
  3. discuss why critical thinking as taught by anthropology (like that taught by other social sciences and humanities) is important for living in our global world.

Speaker’s Bio

Joseph BOSCO 林舟 is Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology, and 2013 Exemplary Teaching Award in General Education recipient. He has a BS in Biology from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. He joined CUHK in 1992. He has taught UGEC1681 Humans and Culture and UGEC2960 Magic, Myth and the Supernatural, and last semester introduced a new course, UGEC2664 Sports and Culture. His research interests include economic anthropology (the rise and development of consumerism in China), religion, and the cultural shaping of rationality. He is currently conducting research on pesticides in Taiwan and its risks. His most recent publication is “The Problem of Greed in Economic Anthropology: Sumptuary Laws and New Consumerism in China,” Economic Anthropology 1: 167–185 (2014).

Teaching Critical Thinking in General Education on Science

Teaching Critical Thinking in General Education on Science

Speaker: Prof. Chu Ming Chung (Dept. of Physics)
Date: 26 Jan 2015 (Monday)
Language: Cantonese

The significant advances in physics have had a profound impact on human life. Physics also tends to be highly specialized and technical, which makes some students find it difficult to learn or even stay away from it. At the same time, quite a lot of students are satisfied with studying some scientific knowledge and regard them as "the truth". It is not easy to nurture students’ critical thinking in general education on physical science.

In this GE lunch seminar, the speaker will share his ideals and methods of teaching critical thinking in general education on physics. The sharing will be divided into four parts:

  1. The nature of the scientific methods: to emphasize the importance of falsifiability in scientific theories;
  2. The historical development of science: to demonstrate the importance of critical thinking by analysing several major changes in the history of physics;
  3. The encouragement of free thoughts: to share some examples of "crazy" ideas of scientists who dare to break the norms; and
  4. Sharing on actual teaching experiences and assessment methods.

Speaker’s Bio

Prof. Chu Ming Chung obtained his B.Sc. and PhD degrees both at California Institute of Technology (Caltech).  Prof. Chu held research positions at MIT and Caltech before joining CUHK in 1995.  His current research interest includes astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics.  Prof. Chu is awardee of the 2000 Vice-Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award, the 2012 University Education Award, and the 2000, 2007 and 2008 Exemplary Teaching Award of the Faculty of Science. Prof. Chu has been teaching GE courses for 19 years.

Proposing or Revising a University General Education Course

Proposing or Revising a University General Education Course

Speaker: Prof. Leung Mei Yee (Director of University General Education)
Date: 9 Dec 2014 (Tuesday)

Starting from 2004, all University General Education (UGE) courses have been categorized into 4 Areas:  Area A Chinese Cultural Heritage, Area B Nature, Science and Technology, Area C Society and Culture, and Area D Self and Humanity. With the supports from over 40 teaching departments, 248 UGE courses are offered by the University of General Education. In the 2013/14 academic year, over 290 classes of UGE courses were offered, and more than 15,000 students enrolled.
This seminar targets at departments and teachers interested in proposing new UGE courses or in revising existing ones in 2015/16 academic year. We will

  1. introduce the design of the UGE programme as a whole,
  2. go through the procedures and criteria of UGE course approval,
  3. introduce the GE Course Proposal and Inventory System (GECPI), which is a web system for the submission of UGE course proposals and the inventory of UGE course materials, and
  4. briefly discuss the UGE course review and archive arrangements.

*For more information of submission of proposals for introduction and revision of UGE courses in 2015/16, please visit our website:

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What Does Critical Thinking Mean --- Accurate Definition of Critical Thinking

What Does Critical Thinking Mean --- Accurate Definition of Critical Thinking

Speaker: Dr. Kou Kei Chun (Department of Philosophy)
Date: 4 Nov 2014 (Tuesday)
Language: Cantonese

What is critical thinking? What does it exactly mean when we say someone's thinking is "critical"? John Dewey, honoured as the father of critical thinking, started the studies of critical thinking in the West a century ago.  Since then, many scholars have strived for the most appropriate definition of "critical thinking".

In this seminar, the speaker will examine four of the most recognized definitions of "critical thinking"and engage all participating GE teachers to share their experiences in teaching critical thinking in GE courses. The speakers will also explore pedagogy of critical thinking in GE courses together with the participants.

The four definitions include two classic ones:

1.    Reflective thinking by John Dewey;
2.    Thinker’s attitude by Edward Glaser;

and two widely adopted by contemporary scholars:

3.    Self-improvement in thinking by Richard Paul;
4.    Reasonable thinking by Robert Ennis.

Speaker’s Bio

Dr. Kou Kei Chun is Senior Lecturer of the Department of Philosophy, awardee of the 2011 Vice-Chancellor's Exemplary Teaching Award and the 2011 Exemplary Teaching Award in GE. Dr. Kou obtained his BA in Philosophy from the National Taiwan University.  Later, he received his MPhil and PhD in Philosophy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).  Dr. Kou joined Department of Philosophy of CUHK in 2006.  Apart from teaching courses on Logic and Analytical Philosophy for the Philosophy majors, Dr. Kou also offers GE courses every year, including "UGED1810 Critical Thinking", "UGED1800 Art & Methodology of Thinking", "UGED1111 Logic", "UGED1112 Logic & Argumentation" and "UGED2261 Philosophy and Human Life".

His research interests include pedagogy on critical thinking and logic, epistemology, philosophy of language, Anglo-American analytical philosophy and philosophy of life.

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The New Senior Secondary Curriculum: Ideal and Reality?

The New Senior Secondary Curriculum: Ideal and Reality?

Speaker: Prof. Lam Chi Chung, Prof. Law Huk Yuen, Dr. Ng Mau Yuen (Department of Curriculum and Instruction)
Date: 14 Oct 2014 (Tuesday)
Language: Cantonese

The new senior secondary curriculum was implemented since 2009.  The curriculum was designed to provide quality all round education for all students. All S4-6 students are required to study four core subjects (including Liberal Studies), and two to three elective subjects.  Other Learning Experiences are also included in the school curriculum to ensure students have a good exposure in non-academic areas.  The public examination system has also changed to criterion-referenced assessment. School-based assessment is included in the assessment of many subjects too. However, are these practices fully implemented in schools? Do students experience the kind of curriculum stated in the official documents?

In this seminar, the speakers will, after briefly introducing the features of the senior secondary curriculum, share the official implementation report by the Education Bureau, research studies conducted by academics and also their observations in schools.  

Speaker’s Bio
Prof. Lam Chi Chung is a Professor in the Dept of Curriculum and Instruction at CUHK. He has been actively involved in researching curriculum change and reform in Hong Kong and China in the past twenty years.  He is particularly interested in the design and implementation of Liberal Studies and humanities subjects like Geography.

Prof. Law Huk Yuen serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at CUHK, where he leads the mathematics education team and also holds the positions of the programme director of the Master of Science in Mathematics Education and the programme coordinator of the B.Ed. of Mathematics and Mathematics Education. He has been actively involved in researching practitioners’ action in their workplace under Hong Kong’s curriculum reform with particular reference to the lesson and learning studies in the field of mathematics education.

Dr. Ng Mau Yuen is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at CUHK. He has been involved in the teaching about Chinese Language Curriculum and Instructional skills for several years. He is interested in the studies of learning and teaching in Chinese Language and Literature.

University General Education Teachers’ Orientation

University General Education Teachers’ Orientation

Speaker: Prof. Leung Mei Yee
Date: 23 September 2014 (Tuesday)
Language: English

The Office of University General Education will kick off its new series of GE lunch seminars with an orientation for new GE teachers. We seek your assistance in circulating this invitation to and nominating new GE teachers in your departments to attend this seminar. Besides learning more about the GE programme, its expectation and management, they will also have a chance to network with each other. Details of the orientation are as follows:

Prof. Leung Mei Yee, Director of University General Education, will brief colleagues of the key features of the GE programme, its expectations for students, its management, as well as some findings from our recent research on GE students’ learning experience. It will be followed by a Q&A and general sharing session.

Who should join?
The orientation targets at
i. New teachers who joined the UGE teaching team from 2013/2014 onwards.
ii. Teachers who would like to refresh the features of the GE programme.

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