Lingnan University co-hosts international conference to discuss uncertain futures of higher education and liberal arts education
08 Nov 2019
Over 200 scholars and postgraduate students from 30 countries gathered at Lingnan University (LU) for the Conference for Higher Education Research 2019 and the Asian Conference on the Liberal Arts 2019, co-hosted by LU, the Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership and the International Academic Forum.
The themes of the three-day conference were Uncertain Futures: Repurposing Higher Education and Uncertain Futures: The Role of Liberal Arts Education, and they drew experts from all over the world to explore the precarious nature of global socio-economic development today and suggest solutions.
Speakers at both conferences discussed how formal education and liberal arts education could be reformed to prepare the public for an unpredictable future in this ever-changing society. The discussions covered the positive and negative impacts of globalisation, which is transforming the nature of work and how people interact with each other. Participants also discussed how technology brings new challenges to educational institutions, governments, and researchers.
Dr Bernard Charnwut Chan, Convenor of the non-official members of the Executive Council of Hong Kong, made the opening remarks, emphasising the need to establish strong ties between educational institutions and governments due to the uncertain socioeconomic futures faced by societies around the globe.
Keynote and featured speeches were given by Prof Leonard K Cheng, President of LU, Prof Francis Green from University College London, UK, Prof Simon Marginson from the University of Oxford, UK, Prof Adam R Nelson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, Prof Deane Neubauer from East-West Centre, US and Prof Joshua Mok Ka-ho, Vice-President of LU.
In a speech entitled Boya Education in China: Lessons from Liberal Arts Education in the US and Hong Kong, Prof Cheng discussed the importance of China’s Boya Education (BYE) in this era of computer-based automation and AI technology. Prof Cheng pointed out that BYE should be a core subject in the undergraduate curriculum, referring to examples in Mainland China, and the liberal arts education in the US and Hong Kong. He noted that institutions need to review the connection between professional and technical training and liberal arts education, as well as combining the benefits of undergraduate and postgraduate studies, to develop both STEM, and humanities and social sciences.
In his speech entitled Equal but Different: Global and Regional Implications of the Rise of China in Universities and Science, Prof Marginson argued that whereas China’s development may be impeded by geopolitical conflict and restrictions on both the mobility of the population and technology exchange, due to its well developed higher education and science system, China is self-sufficient enough to sustain a strong regional and global role under such conditions. Prof Marginson also discussed the similarities and differences between universities in China and Euro-America, and the evolution of global higher education and education in China.
In his keynote speech on Graduate Employment and Under-Employment, Prof Green discussed the issues of employment for new graduates in view of globalisation and the current economic environment. He pointed out that the graduate labour market at the root of the issue is not a typical short-term, micro one, and that an equilibrating price-mechanism would ensure that the supply and demand for graduate skills remain closely aligned. Due to the institutional and macroeconomic differences that exist across nations, the risk of unemployment for graduates is expected to vary from place to place.
Speakers including Prof Mok, Prof Neubauer and Prof Nelson led discussions about understanding the uncertain futures that societies face and ways to address problems by using new human resource methodologies.
The conferences drew about 120 delegates and over 80 postgraduate students from 30 countries and regions in Asia, Oceania, Europe, North and Central America and Africa. The participants are mainly researchers from higher education sectors, senior university administrators, government officials and policy analysts.