2022-23 Summer SDG-GE Course
UGEB2296 Experiencing and Rethinking Science and Technology in Agriculture

Agriculture integrates the knowledge of nature with human needs and values, and evolves side by side with the development of science and technology. Nowadays, the highly industrialized modern agriculture has greatly increased food production to support an ever-growing global population. Yet, it also brings forth many global ethical concerns regarding sustainability, food safety, biotechnology, pollution, etc. In the past decades, increasing attention has been given to permaculture, an alternative agricultural practice that emphasizes the development of durable and self-sufficient ecosystems in farming. It is not only a practice of sustainable food production; it is also a philosophy of living in harmony with nature. Permaculture principles are closely related to some of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) initiated by the United Nations, including “Zero Hunger”, “Responsible Consumption and Reproduction”, “Climate Action” etc.

In this course, students will gain basic knowledge about modern agriculture and its application of science and technology; discuss related ethical issues; understand the fundamental principles, philosophy, and practice of permaculture; reflect on relevant SDGs through lectures. Apart from that, students will attend a six-day study trip to Australia and experience the practices of modern agriculture and permaculture. Students are expected to be able to describe and compare major principles and practices of modern agriculture and those of permaculture, analyze the ethical issues related to modern agriculture in contemporary societies, and formulate personal views on how to live ethically with nature.

Course Structure

The course is a 2-credit summer outbound experiential learning course, mainly consists of three parts:

  1. Lectures: To prepare for the study trip, students are required to attend two-day lectures in CUHK to gain basic knowledge about modern agriculture, permaculture and related ethical issues.
  2. Experiential-learning study trip: In a six-day study trip to Australia, students will learn the fundamental principles and practices of permaculture in permaculture institutes and neighbouring modern farmlands.
  3. Seminar: After the trip, students are required to give group presentations. Each student is also required to submit a final term paper.

Past Experience

In May 2019, 20 students from different disciplines and year of study visited Permaculture College Australia for six days and learned permaculture ethics and design principles from Robyn Francis, a master and educator in permaculture. Students also engaged in a series of farming and planting practices and camped in the farmland to experience “the unity of farming and living” life. For a glimpse of the experience, visit the following links to watch two short review videos:

Medium of Instruction

The lectures and seminar at CUHK will be delivered in Cantonese. The experiential-learning classes in Australia will be conducted in English.


The Office of University General Education will arrange and cover all the main costs of the study tour, including tuition, meals and accommodation.

The experiential-learning study trip will meet and dismiss in Australia. Students are responsible for arranging the air travels between Hong Kong and Australia, and any other personal items for the trip.


Students must have taken or be taking the course “UGFN1000 In Dialogue with Nature” at the time of application.

Students should complete the online application form on or before 6 Feb 2023, uploading a personal statement and a copy of an updated academic transcript at CUHK. The personal statement is an important part of selection consideration. Students may explain the motivation for taking the course, expectations of this course, your contribution in experiential-learning activities, prior knowledge or experience (if any) and reflection on agriculture-related courses or activities. It should be no longer than 1000 characters in Chinese or 700 words in English.

Important Dates

13 Jan 2023 Noon Registration starts
19 Jan 2023 Information Session
Time: 18:30 – 19:30
Language: Cantonese
7 Feb 2023 Application Deadline
20-21 Feb 2023 AM Group Interview
22 Feb 2023 Announcement of Interview Results
15 – 16 May 2023 Two full-day lectures at CUHK
19 May 2023 Meet students in Australia and travel to Permaculture College Australia (PCA)
20 – 25 May 2023 Six-day workshop (20-25 May)
26 May 2023 Leave PCA. Student will be dismissed in Australia
9 June 2023 Seminar: Group Presentations at CUHK
23 June 2023 Final Paper Deadline

* Tentative date which subject to change


  • Organizing the study trip involves a lot of planning and coordination in advance. The course will therefore not follow the regular schedule of course enrolment at CUHK. Once the interview results are announced, shortlisted students will be required to indicate acceptance of the offer and pay a caution deposit of HKD2,000 within one week, which will be fully refundable on the successful completion of the course. The Office of University General Education will then proceed with the course enrolment on CUSIS. Once enrolled, students are not allowed to drop the course except under special circumstances. If students who are unable to drop the course successfully does not meet the course requirement, “Fail” grade will be received.
  • This course takes 2 credits. According to General Regulations Governing Full-time Undergraduate Studies 5.1, A student shall take no more than 6 units of courses in each summer session, and no student shall be allowed to take more than 39 units in an academic year (please see 5.3 for exceptional cases). Therefore, students who wish to enrol in this course must reserve sufficient credits, and students may need to consider making appropriate arrangements during the add-drop period in 2022/23 Term 2. Once the enrolment is confirmed, any drop requests due to insufficient credits or other course enrolment problems will not be approved and the deposit will not be refunded.
  • If this is because of the influence of COVID-19 (for instance, in treatment or mandatory quarantine), students must submit official medical support and related documents and lodge a written application to the OUGE to seek the “Drop Consent”.
  • In consideration of the potential changes of travel restrictions applied to Hong Kong enforced by different countries, this course might be subjected to alteration or cancellation. Latest information will be released via email to all enrolled students.

For any queries, please email