ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURE IN THE SPOTLIGH T INCONFERENCE O ver 60 scholars from the mainland, the United States, and Hong Kong participated in the 'International Conference on Environment and Culture: Beijing, Hong Kong, and New York', held from 19th to 22nd May at the Cho Yiu Conference Hall. The event was jointly organized by the Department of History, the Research Institute for the Humanities, the Hong Kong-America Center, the Department of History of Qinghua University in Beijing, and the China Senior Professors Association, with the purpose of fostering academic collaboration among research institutions on the mainland and overseas. It was sponsored by the L i Ka Shing Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and Chung Chi College as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. The three keynote speeches were delivered by Prof. Stephen R. Kellert of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies of Yale University, Prof. Qu Geping, former minister of the State Environmental Protection Bureau, and Prof. Kwok Siu-tong of the CUHK Department of History. A total of 32 papers and two videos were presented at seven sessions, examining from different perspectives the environmental history and cultural development of the three cities. Prof. Liu Pak-wai, pro-vice-chancellor of the University, Prof. Rance P. L. Lee, head of Chung Chi College, Prof. Philip Y.S. Leung, director of the Research Institute for the Humanities, and Prof. Genn Shive, director of the Hong Kong-America Center, officiated at the opening ceremony of the conference on 19th May. And Mr. Andrew Lam, president of the Hong Kong Institute of City Planners, and Dr. Michael Chiu, assistant director of the Environmental Protection Department, made closing remarks on 22nd May. Schools Pledge to Improve Student Health O ver 500 students and teachers from 40 local schools made the commitment to focus their efforts on improving the general well-being of the younger generation by enrolling in the Hong Kong Healthy School Award Scheme. The scheme was organized by the Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion of the University, jointly with the Hong Kong Subsidized Secondary Schools Council, the Subsidized Primary Schools Council, and the Hong Kong Special Schools Council, who had jointly launched the Healthy Schools Programme in 1998. The opening ceremony of the scheme took place on 20th May at Sir Run Run Shaw Hall, wherein all participating schools signed a charter to signify their commitment. A recent territory-wide surveillance of student health conducted by the Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion revealed that 14 per cent of local students had had their normal daily activities interfered by physical and emotional health problems. And over half of the school children did not perform vigorous exercises regularly. The centre also found in a separate study that half of the students did not consume fresh fruit and vegetable on a daily basis, and those with emotional problems tended to eat more junk food. Clinica l Skill s Centr e t for the New Centur y A Clinical Skills Learning Centre was officially established under the Faculty of Medicine on 7th May to help meet the changes brought about by a new medical curriculum to be introduced this September. Present at the centre's opening ceremony were Prof. Arthur K.C. L i, vice- chancellor, Prof. Sydney Chung, dean of the faculty, Prof. David Chung, director of the new centre, and Prof. Allan Chang, honorary hospital chief executive of the Prince of Wales Hospital. The ob j ec t i ve o f the new curriculum, wh i ch emphasizes clinical, communication, IT, and evidence-based medicine skills, is to help students develop a patient-oriented mind. First- and second-year students will have to acquire clinical skills before being introduced to the hospital wards. The well-equipped centre provides an environment that simulates graded clinical tasks. Students can practise on manikins, and obtain simulated patient reactions to treatment on mechanical simulators, so that they will be more experienced and confident by the time they are introduced to the hospital wards. Students can also learn to assess patients in a simulated doctor's office and practise evidence-based medicine protocols in examination rooms that are linked to the world's medical library resources. Study Shows Ho ng Ko ng St i ll Leads Shanghai i n Compet i t i veness A survey shows t h a t H o n g Kong is still ahead of Shanghai in terms of many c ompe t i t i ve i nd i ca t o r s, and is overall a more competitive c i t y. The survey was conducted in Hong Kong and Shanghai between December 2000 and January 2001, by the Committee on China Research and Development of the Faculty of Business Administration of the University, with the assistance of The Better Hong Kong Foundation. The 193 respondents, including chief executive officers of multi-national companies in both cities, and professionals and senior managers in Hong Kong, were asked to rate the achievements of the two cities on 32 indicators of an international city's competitiveness. Hong Kong scored higher than Shanghai in the three basic dimensions: the 'base for sustainable economic growth', 'investment environment', and 'image of globalization', as well as other factors including 'production factors', 'environment for business operations', and 'investment policy'. On the other hand, Shanghai led Hong Kong in 'technology base', in particular, in the item, ' commercialization of local research and development achievements'. The difference between the two cities in 'base for sustainable economic growth' is also narrowing. Prof. Tuan Chyau of the Committee on China Research and Development said at a press conference held on 14th May that this w i ll have material influence on the competitiveness of the two cities. New Technology for Stamping Operations T he Department of Automation and Computer-Aided Engineering has developed a computer-based Stamping Operation Monitoring and Diagnosis System (SOMS), which is an intelligent, reliable, and cost-effective on-line monitoring system designed specifically for metal stamping operations. A Joint Seminar on Monitoring and Diagnosing Metal Stamping Processes was also organized on 11th May at the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Sha Tin to introduce this new technology. There are currently close to 10,000 metal and light engineering industry establishments in Hong Kong, or owned by Hong Kong companies and located in the Pearl River Delta. Increased product complexity and a demand for greater precision in the manufacturing process in recent years have made it necessary for these companies to use advanced technology such as SOMS to improve product quality and maintain global competitiveness.