The Liberal Art University in Hong Kong
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Director's Welcome

Welcome to the Core Curriculum and General Education Program which, along with Service Learning, the Integrated Learning Program, and Hostel Education, is a key component of “whole person development” at Lingnan University.

As an undergraduate student studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara I was a “science nerd”, so I admit that I took General Education courses because they were required for me earn my Zoology degree and move on to graduate school. Surprisingly, almost 40 years later, I can remember many of my General Education courses including those focusing literature, music, art, archeology, psychology, history, and mythology. General Education courses offered me the opportunity to get out of the science buildings and gain some novel experiences. One highlight was a course called “Personal and Family History” I wrote a biographical paper about the life of my maternal grandfather who was born in Oklahoma, USA in 1899 in a house built out of sod (bricks made out of soil held to together by grass roots) and later went on to become an educator and business owner.

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Shortly after my Grandfather was born, they upgraded their house made out of sod with a log cabin. My Grandfather (my Mom’s Dad) is the little guy turning his head, third from the left.

During my college years I could never imagine that my life would follow the path it has. In addition to working in the USA, I have been lucky enough to work in Central America, the Caribbean Islands, Malaysia, and Hong Kong and travel extensively along the way, often in pursuit of my love of scuba diving. At each new stop I have used some of the knowledge and skills that I picked up in my General Education courses to help me to understand the history and culture of the different regions and appreciate the similarities between people that I have met around the world.

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My wife and me with a Kayan woman in north-western Thailand. The long-necked look that comes from placing brass rings around their necks is a sign of beauty in the Kayan culture. This woman, a local school teacher, spoke very good English so I enjoyed chatting with her and learning more about Kayan life.

The world changed greatly during the 95 years of my Grandfather’s life, but you will experience even greater changes during your lifetimes! I think of General Education as providing tools that you should store in your toolbox, ready for use when appropriate. It is possible, and it was certainly the case in my experience, that you might not use these tools immediately. Many General Education courses will ultimately provide professional benefits. For example, my interest in psychology recently has increased following the results of the recent U.S. Presidential election as I struggle to understand why so many people are not influenced by the results of scientific investigations and reconsider how I teach science. Other General Education courses might merely increase your appreciation of the world around you and your enjoyment of life. For example, during a recent visit to the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece I saw real examples to illustrate what I learned in my art history course showing how artists’ ability to sculpt the human form has evolved over time.

The seeds planted in my General Education courses have germinated, the tree has taken root and produced fruit which has transformed my life and ultimately led me to Hong Kong. I urge you to “dive in” to your General Education experience with a great sense of adventure and I hope that this experience will lead to a prosperous, meaningful, and enjoyable journey.

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Taking the plunge in search of manta rays at Yap Island, in Micronesia.

Best wishes,

Prof. Mark A. McGinley
Director
Core Curriculum and General Education