Teaching Development Grants
Completed TDG Projects

Diverse Learning Experience

Hong Kong: Community and Cultural Policy in the Global Context


Cultural production is becoming the new drive for global and local economy. Dynamic cultural planning is gaining currency worldwide as a way to integrate cultural demands and socioeconomic goals. Recently, other countries have stressed the importance of cultural policies that are sustainable, democratic and grounded in community needs. How does Hong Kong fare?

New studies on global cultural policies show that “managerialism” and “entrepreneurialism” in governance prioritize efficiency over creativity, entertainment, tourism and hardware build-up over sustainability. Similarly, the West Kowloon Cultural District is an issue of competitive growth against sustainable cultural development, which exposes Hong Kong’s lack of perspective on culture policy and planning (the “cultural” infrastructure). This is an intellectual and policy gap that we can, and ought to fill. This inter-disciplinary course equips students with the capacity to understand and participate in Hong Kong cultural policy and planning discussions in the local and global context.

At the end of the course, students who fulfill the requirements are able to:

  1. Develop socio-cultural and political-economic perspectives on Hong Kong cultural policy, cultural space, incubation of cultural talents and industries, heritage preservation as well as community building through analysis of real-life situations.
  2. Apply critical and analytic approaches to global trends and local policies impacting local culture and community through theoretical and case analyses.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of community-based, participatory policy and planning.

Principal Investigator

Dr. M.M. Szeto, School of Humanities, Faculty of ArtsContact

Project level

University-level project

Project Completion

September 2008


1. High student motivation and government acknowledgement of student work:

a. Example 1: “Graham Street Market” student group project:
These students have continued to follow the issue beyond the course duration in a blog: http://grahamstmarket.blogspot.com
Due to their enthusiasm and the quality of their work, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has invited their group to voice their opinions at a public consultation session on 8 August, 2008.

b. Example 2: the student group project on Temple Street at:
http://ourtemplestreet.mysinablog.com/index.php?op=Default&Date=&postCategoryId=0&page=1 (in Chinese)

2. International, inter-varsity, student-faculty collaboration in participatory design and planning workshops and cultural tours:

a. Our use of cultural tours and participatory design and planning workshops as teaching tools have attracted inter-varsity collaboration from other departments in the university and cognate departments in other universities. Prof. Ng Mee-kam of HKU Planning Department designed the second part of her MA course in sync with our TDG course and brought her students and course instructors to our events. Her MA course also provided resources for a second community participatory workshop open to our students. Prof. Kith Tsang of Fine Arts, Polytechnic University, Prof. Yun-chung Chen of Urban Planning, School of Social Sciences, HKUST, lecturer Alvin Yip of the Architecture Department, Zhuhai University, and Prof. John Liu of the Planning School, National Taiwan University, all brought their students to work with ours.

b. Students benefitted from the international, inter-disciplinary and professional exposure and learned how to run participatory design and planning workshops.

c. Our West Kowloon Cultural District intervarsity participatory design and planning workshop in HKU can be viewed from the following links:


d. Our West Kowloon Cultural District participatory design and planning workshop with students in the community of Tai Kok Tsui can be viewed at:


3. Development of methods for course cultural tours and in-the-field action research. This fulfils the 3+3+4 reform objective to introduce outside classroom research experience to undergraduates. For example, dozens of clips on a course cultural tour can be viewed at the course blog: http://www.youtube.com/user/ccchongkong under the title西九龍之旅–由旺角到西九爛地. In the process, students learned:

a. the ethics of bottom-up community participatory cultural policy development taught through cooperation with local community partners (Saint James’ Settlement, Community Cultural Concern, V-artivist and C & G Artpartment).

b. how to do semi-structured interviews.

c. how to do participatory observation type of ethnographical studies.

4. Interactive knowledge enhancement and propagation through the internet:

a. A course website to accommodate materials outside the traditional course syllabus, which may not be appropriate for the closed WebCT platform is designed. It is open to our community partners, allowing them to upload materials our students requested or might find useful. This has made course information flow easier and faster. Please see:


b. Student consultation is important in course technology design. Students prefer the blog format. They uploaded hundreds of entries of their best written field notes, research results, written and audio-visual contributions, video clips made during course participatory workshops, course cultural tours, lectures by guest speakers, and lectures by course instructors to the course Youtube blog: http://www.youtube.com/user/ccchongkong

5. Knowledge transfer to the community, contribution to government policy development and implementation, contribution to scholarship:

a. Community-academic collaboration beyond the course duration: The PI’s participatory research with community partners St. James’ Settlement and Community Cultural Concern, which was partially supported by the TDG, has contributed to the development of the living culture preservation policy for the Blue House heritage cluster, subsequently adopted by the Development Bureau for the “Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme” (see http://www.heritage.gov.hk/en/rhbtp/bhc.htm). This pilot project demonstrates how academics and the local community can collaborate on cutting-edge research and policy development.

b. Subsequently, the PI joined community partners St. James’ Settlement, Community Cultural Concern, Heritage Hong Kong and the Blue House Resident Group to successfully bid for the $56.9 million Blue House Cluster project of the “Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Schemeunder the Development Bureau. (See The Review, the University of Hong Kong, 2010, pp. 54-55, The University of Hong Kong Bulletin, vol. 12, Jan. 2011, pp. 22-23.) Our Blue House living preservation project is the first of its kind in Hong Kong – a cutting-edge demonstrative contribution to living culture preservation, participatory policy, planning and implementation with forward looking visions and knowledge accumulation and dissemination on cultural policies for community building, cultural-social innovation, critical local cultural research, cultural tourism, integrative planning of sustainable creative cultural clusters, people-oriented urban renewal. This innovative experience will contribute significantly to international scholarship in these areas.

c. By sharing research and course contributions to the community through online sharing and the PI’s knowledge transfer to local community residents and NGOs, the university’s social commitment is publicized. (See The Review, the University of Hong Kong, 2010, pp. 54-55, The University of Hong Kong Bulletin, vol. 12, Jan. 2011, pp. 22-23.)

6. Academic presentations at international and local conferences during and immediately after project duration:

“Staged Community/Living Community: Community Imaginaries of Officials, Residents, Professionals and the Civil Society before and after 1997,” Our Future Series: Local Culture Public Forum, co-sponsored by Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Comparative Literature, HKU, Cultural Studies Centre, HKUST, Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui, 1 June 2008.

“The Star-Ferry and Queen’s Pier Movement in Hong Kong – when cultural preservation, anti-neoliberal urban redevelopment and decolonization forces meet,” Enjoy Living, Raging Lives, Cultural Studies Association Conference, Chinese Culture University, Taipei, Taiwan, 5-6 Jan., 2008.

“Can We Have Heritage Preservation Without Decolonization in Hong Kong? The Lessons of the Star Ferry and Queen’s Pier Movement,” Center for Anthropological Research Faculty of Social Sciences The University of Hong Kong, International Conference on Asian Heritages at the Crossroad, Sociology Department, University of Hong Kong, 4-5 December 2007. 

With Dr. Y.C. Chen, “Beyond the Preservation and Development Dichotomy: Movement to Preserve the Cultural Cluster in Hong Kong”, Center for Anthropological Research Faculty of Social Sciences The University of Hong Kong, International Conference on Asian Heritages at the Crossroad, Sociology Department, University of Hong Kong, 4-5 Dec., 2007.

With Dr. Y.C. Chen, “Preserve what? The politics of preservation in Hong Kong,” Conference on The Transforming Asian City: Innovative Urban and Planning Practices, Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University, 3-5 May, 2007.