Two days in Hong Kong and two days in Singapore for our university visits seemed like a tight schedule, but we easily managed one university each day: Hong Kong’s City University and the University of Hong Kong; the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technical University in Singapore. Our visits to these four universities had been very well prepared and apart from general discussions with the university managements and presidents, we were also able to visit specific departments and research units.
Earth and environmental/climate sciences were those departments or units that interested me most. But equally interesting for me were the media and communication departments/units at all four universities, where students can study a wide variety of media related subjects.
At the University of Hong Kong we had the possibility to visit the Stephen Hui Geological Museum at the Department of Earth Sciences, which currently has a special exhibition on mineral treasures from China. Two very professional guides gave us an excellent tour through the museum and managed to convey their fascination for Geosciences.
The Geography Department at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is a large department offering a wide range of subjects related to cultural and physical geography. Colleagues at NUS had specifically organized a lecture hall so that I could introduce our Asian monsoon project and present some of our results. Although the talk had only been decided two days in advance, I was surprised to see so many people in the audience.
Our last visit was to Nanyang Technical University (NTU), where NTU’s president Bertil Andersson gave an impressive overview on how the university has developed during the past ten years and where it is heading.
Too bad we only had one hour to quickly visit the Earth Observatory of Singapore, but Kerry Sieh’s quick and comprehensive overview made it clear how important earth sciences is for SE Asia, where millions of people are faced with the dangers of natural hazards (earth quakes, tsunamis, volcanoes).
EOS works closely with artists and filmmakers and is for example currently designing an app for different platforms to teach people about tsunamis. The research, teaching and outreach commitment at EOS is definitely something to keep a closer eye on. Research collaboration and exchange of students, once the undergraduate program has started in fall 2014, should be of interest for Earth and Environmental Sciences at SU.
It is also striking how each of the universities we visited uses and integrates various digital media in science. What a wealth of possibilities exist here! Not just for different types of films, but also for online courses, apps, animations, etc. This opens completely new ways to convey a message and to illustrate abstract topics in an understandable way. My take home message is that we would need to do so much more in this respect, but also that things move extremely fast in this part of the world. Much faster than we might imagine.
A big thanks to all our hosts, who made sure that we were so well taken care of! And thank you so much all enthusiastic students, who guided us around at City U, Hong Kong University, NUS and NTU. If one of them reads this blog (I know some of you do, because the views from Hong Kong and Singapore are at an all times high), then let me tell you that it is dark here and ice cold and there is lots of snow in the middle of Stockholm. People might even go skiing now in this exotic city!