Seminar: Promotion and Recognition of Teaching Excellence in Research Intensive Universities: The case of University College London (UCL)

Organized by Teaching and Learning Quality Committee, The University of Hong Kong

Speaker Professor Michael Worton
Vice-Provost (Academic and International)
University College London (UCL)
Date 10 December, 2009 (Thur)
Time 12:30 – 2:00 pm
Venue Theatre 5, 1/F, Meng Wah Complex, The University of Hong Kong

Summary

In this seminar, Professor Worton spoke about the challenges faced by UCL as a research-intensive university in promoting and recognizing teaching excellence. He outlined the strategies undertaken by UCL to meet these challenges and gave a vivid account of how teaching awards at UCL started many years ago with less than satisfactory responses but eventually emerged as a successful way to promote teaching excellence. Professor Worton also talked about UCL’s revision of promotion criteria for academic staff in order to emphasize the importance of teaching contribution. The seminar concluded with Professor Worton speaking on UCL’s vision for internationalizing the university, with particular reference to the challenges involved in internationalizing the curriculum.

 

 

About the Speaker

Professor Worton is Vice-Provost of UCL, who oversees the implementation of UCL’s Learning and Teaching strategy and is responsible for matters relating to quality assurance and T&L. He contributes significantly to the development of higher education in the UK and Europe and holds various important national and international appointments outside UCL. He was Chair of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)/Arts and Humanities Research Council Expert Group on Research Metrics, and is a member of the joint Steering Group of Universities UK, Standing Conference of Principals and HEFCE on Measuring and Recording Student Achievement. He has spoken widely in the UK and continental Europe on the internationalization of higher education. He has just undertaken a personal review for HEFCE and the UK Government of language provision in UK higher education. His research focuses on 20th and 21st century literature and on aspects of critical theory, feminism, gender politics, and painting and photography. He has published 9 books and more than 70 articles and chapters in books.

Seminar: Teaching Science to Non-Science Students

Co-organized by
Steering Committee of 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum and Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching (CAUT)

Speaker Professor Harry Lewis
Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University
Date 14 May, 2009 (Thu)
Time 11:30am – 12:30pm
Venue LG-06, Hui Oi Chow Science Building, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract

A central challenge in teaching science to non-science students is deciding what to count as success. Set the bar too low and success is achievable but unsatisfying to the teacher; set it too high and success is frustrating to all concerned; set it at the right level but in the wrong place and students may succeed but wind up both unsatisfied and frustrated. Most teaching in this genre aims at one or more of three goals: aesthetic (e.g. so students understand Newton’s Laws as a human intellectual creation like a great work of literature), or trust-building (e.g. so students understand that medical research can be expected to produce useful results in the future as it has in the past), or pragmatic (e.g. so students can make rational choices about installing solar panels). The speaker will argue for another justification: to enable students to fulfill their civic responsibilities, by understanding the moral and ethical implications of advances in science and engineering. A decision to pursue that goal has consequences: it biases the subjects taught toward applied science, and forces the teacher to grapple with normative and moral issues in which most scientists have no professional training. He will draw on teaching going on at Harvard to illustrate his argument.

About the Speaker

Harry Lewis is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Harvard University. His undergraduate and PhD degrees are from Harvard, and he has taught there since 1974. He is the senior member of the Undergraduate Admissions Committee, and from 1995 to 2003 he served as Dean of Harvard College. In addition to his special field of theoretical computer science, he also teaches an innovative general education course about principles of digital information technology and the societal dilemmas it is creating. His recent writings include two acclaimed books, Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future?, which has been translated into Chinese, and Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.

Public Lecture: Blown to Bits

Co-organized by
Steering Committee of 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum and Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching (CAUT)

Speaker Professor Harry Lewis
Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University
Date 13 May, 2009 (Wed)
Time 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Venue Wang Gungwu Theatre, Graduate House, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract

Wherever we go … whatever we say, write, photograph, or buy … whatever prescriptions we take, or ATM withdrawals we make … we are generating information. That information can be captured, digitized, retrieved, and copied – anywhere on earth, instantly. Sophisticated computers can increasingly uncover meaning in those digital traces – understanding, anticipating, and influencing us as never before. Social networking seduces us into giving up yet more information, and phones with global positioning systems can help anyone we call a "friend" to track our every movement.

Digital technologies enable unprecedented social interconnection and dissemination of learning. But technologies are morally neutral: Google Earth, for example, has been used both to discover new rain forests in Mozambique and to plan terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We review instances in which social institutions have responded inappropriately to perceived technological threats, and ask whether the liberating force of the technology can withstand the fears it arouses.

About the Speaker

Harry Lewis is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Harvard University. His undergraduate and PhD degrees are from Harvard, and he has taught there since 1974. He is the senior member of the Undergraduate Admissions Committee, and from 1995 to 2003 he served as Dean of Harvard College. In addition to his special field of theoretical computer science, he also teaches an innovative general education course about principles of digital information technology and the societal dilemmas it is creating. His recent writings include two acclaimed books, Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future?, which has been translated into Chinese, and Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.