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Have you ever questioned where in the world do we live, and what lies beyond the visible world? These have been intriguing questions for humans since 5000 years ago, for which our ancestors actively sought answers and went on expeditions into deep space, just to answer the existential question: where’s our place in the Universe?

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On June 2, 2018, Professor Sun Kwok held a public lecture in the Hong Kong Space Museum’s Lecture Theatre, attracting a crowd of over a hundred. Students, professionals, families and astronomy enthusiasts flocked to listen to Professor Kwok speak about how man made sense of our surrounding environment, and the development of a scientific mind throughout this process.

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Professor Kwok illustrated how our ancestors’ practical needs of planning for agriculture prompted them to closely observe the environment, turning their attention to the skies to examine how stars moved. From observations, humans began to imagine, hypothesize and correlate phenomena, eventually coming up with theories to explain how the celestial sky works. Slight discrepancies of actual observations with proposed theories sent them thinking further, resulting in more accurate explanations of the nature being born, and in the long course of history, the development of the scientific way of thinking and rational mind. Man deconstructed and constructed knowledge and built up a legacy of what we have today – a chest full of rich astronomical understanding to our disposal. Understanding how we have come this far is equally important as knowing what our current comprehension of the Universe is.

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Towards the end of the lecture, Professor Kwok engaged in a lively exchange of questions and answers with the audience, where visitors raised curious questions about specific details of the talk. Furthermore, visitors had an enjoyable time trying out the Armillary sphere app, co-developed by HKU TELI and Professor Kwok. With the aid of animated instructional videos and the guidance of TELI’s staff, visitors learnt how to operate this digitized ancient instrument. The app is powerful enough to predict the Sun’s motion on any given altitude, and some visitors even tried to work out the sunrise and sunset times on their birthdays!

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Many also took the opportunity to learn about the upcoming free MOOC course Our Place in the Universe, launching on June 12, 2018 on EdX. If you missed the public lecture, here is your chance to embark on a journey with us through the stars and into history!

For more details of the public lecture, please refer to this post by the Hong Kong Space Museum. If you are interested in trying the Armillary Sphere app, you can also check out and download from this post: https://tl.hku.hk/2018/06/finding-our-place-in-the-universe-a-mooc/

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Professor Eric Thomas

Public Lecture by Professor Sir Eric Thomas
Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol, UK
UK Education Champion, since 2013
President of Universities UK, 2011-13

Date : January 12, 2015 (Monday)
Time : 5:30pm Tea Reception
6:00pm Lecture by Professor Sir Eric Thomas
Venue : Conference Room, 11/F, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
Enquiries : 2219 4892

For registration details, please click here.

Lecture abstract

The words “world class”, “global” and “international” are used with undisciplined frequency by huge numbers of universities in their public relations, marketing and student and staff recruitment. In many respects such use has so undermined the very description that external observers attach little importance to it. There are, however, universities that do transcend their location and their activity and that would be agreed by most observers to be world class and globalised.

This lecture will look at the criteria that could be used to construct these definitions and analyse their strengths and weaknesses. It will ask the question as to whether there are only a tiny number of universities that should responsibly use these epithets or whether many universities have so many of the characteristics that it is fair that they describe themselves in this manner. It will also look at the factors and events that have shaped our major universities into thinking and planning in a global manner rather than the more parochial normality of twenty years ago.

Speaker’s profile

Professor Sir Eric Thomas is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, a position he has held since September 2001. He was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2013 for services to Higher Education.

He graduated in Medicine from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1976 and proceeded to obtain his MD by thesis in research into endometriosis in 1987. He trained as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and worked at both the universities of Sheffield and Newcastle. In 1991 he was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Southampton and then became Head of the School of Medicine there in 1995 and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences in 1998. He was a Consultant Gynaecologist from 1987 to 2001.

In July 2013, Sir Eric was appointed as the new UK Education Champion by the Government as part of its strategy to promote the UK education sector internationally. Sir Eric will also co-chair the new International Education Council alongside the Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts.

From 2011-2013, Sir Eric was President of Universities UK. He was previously Vice-President of UUK, Chair of its England and Northern Ireland Council and Chair of the Research Policy Committee. He was a Trustee and then Chair of CASE Europe from 2007-2014 and a member of the CASE Board in North America from 2010-2014.

Sir Eric is a Trustee of IntoUniversity and a Lay Trustee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He chaired the government Taskforce into Increasing Voluntary Giving in Higher Education, which reported in 2004. He was Chair of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) from 2003-2007 and was a member of the Board of the South-West Regional Development Agency from 2002 to 2008.

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Message from Faculty of Arts

Shih Shu-Mei史書美
Hon-Yin and Suet-Fong Chan Professor in Chinese
陳漢賢伉儷基金教授(中文)

Endowed Professorships Public Lecture

Date: April 15, 2014
Time: 5:00 pm (Reception at 4:30 pm)
Venue: Rayson Huang Theatre, The University of Hong Kong

“From World History to World Literature:
China, the South, and the Global 60s”

This lecture will explore the connection between world literature and world history. Taking the world historical event of the global 60s as an example, this lecture will reconsider the place of China in that event from the perspectives of literary communities that may be considered the South to the Chinese North, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and through this process, propose a new conception of world literature.

All are welcome. Please register at http://www.hku.hk/ephku/publiclectures
(first-come-first-served)

The Endowed Professorships Public Lecture Series supports the University’s mission of sharing knowledge with the community. The Endowed Professorships Scheme was first established in 2005. To date, a total of 80 Endowed Professorships have been established. Each of them represents a new venture in academic development.

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Message from Faculty of Business and Economics

Richard Y C Wong 王于漸
Philip Wong Kennedy Wong Professor in Political Economy
黃乾亨黃英豪基金教授(政治經濟學)

Endowed Professorships Public Lecture
Date: April 11, 2014
Time: 6:30 pm (cocktails at 6:00 pm)
Venue: Rayson Huang Theatre, The University of Hong Kong

“Understanding Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility in Hong Kong”

Measured inequality has risen considerably in Hong Kong in the past twenty years. What explains it? Should we be worried about it? Why? Has intergenerational mobility been adversely impacted? New empirical research focusing on the role of schooling, labor force participation, public housing, divorce, and remarriage provide an intriguing interplay of micro factors to give a fascinating account of changing inequality and intergenerational mobility in Hong Kong. Placing these micro factors in the larger context of macroeconomic changes illuminates the real role played by globalization and China’s opening in this process.

All are welcome. Registration: http://www.hku.hk/ephku/publiclectures (first-come-first-served)

The Endowed Professorships Public Lecture Series supports the University’s mission of sharing knowledge with the community. The Endowed Professorships Scheme was first established in 2005. To date, a total of 80 Endowed Professorships have been established. Each of them represents a new venture in academic development.

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