Newsletter No. 87

CUHK Newsletter 2 No. 87 19th April 1996 Lectures and Seminars by Visiting Scholars • Prof. Per Venge from the Department of Clinical Chemistry of the University of Uppsala Hospital in Sweden conducted two seminars at the Prince of Wales Hospital as visiting scholar to the Department of Chemical Pathology. The first seminar, which took place on 23rd March, addressed the subject of 'Monitoring Allergic I n f l amma t i on '; the second, on 29th March, focused on 'Research Frontiers in Cellular Allergy'. • World-renowned architect Dr. Ken Yeang delivered a public lecture on 28th March in the Wong Foo Yuan Building at the invitation of the Architecture Department. Currently practising in Asia, Dr. Yeang's area of expertise is designing high-rise buildings based on low-energy principles. His designs can be found in Malaysia, China, Australia and Vietnam. His work has been exhibited in Nara Town Hall and the Axis Gallery in Japan, and the Aedes Gallery in Berlin. A Taste of Another Culture for Students on Yale-New Asia Exchange In its third year now, the undergraduate exchange programme between New Asia College and Yale University adopted 'Urban Issues' as this year's theme to enable students of both cultures to have a better understanding of issues such as housing, medical care, and employment in the host country. The programme comprised two parts. From 9th to 22nd February, eight New Asia students visited Yale University where they presented papers on Hong Kong's urban issues. They also toured New York City and Washington, D. C. Then from 10th to 20th March, six Yale undergraduates repaid the visit. Besides visiting the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Mai Po Natural Reserve and other scenic spots, they went sightseeing in Shenzhen, and presented their reports on different urban issues in their home country at a symposium on 19th March. S tudents may think that their teachers' problems aren't any of their business, not in the classroom anyway, and their teachers will probably not disagree. But the seven CUHK architecture students who attended a Problem-Based Learning workshop conducted by Prof. Edwin M. Bridges 一 professor of education from Stanford University and visiting professor to the Department of Educational Administration and Policy — may think otherwise. These students had to design anew house for Prof. Bridges as his old one had been Department Update The Department of Sports Science and Physical Education is small in terms of staff strength. Including Dr. P. D. Robinson, chair of the department, there are only nine staff members — six of lecturer rank or above, and three instructors. Their major task is to train graduate teachers of physical education for local schools. Programmes in Great Demand 'We probably get some of the highest number of applicants relative to the number of student places available,' says Dr. Robinson. Last year, 208 JUPAS Category A Students (i.e., those who opt for the programme as one of their first three choices) applied for a total of 20 places in the full-time undergraduate programme. In fact the programme was the first choice for 91 of them. As for the part-time undergraduate programme, there were also over 110 applicants, of whom 102 were eligible and only 20 could be accommodated. According to Dr. Robinson, such oversubscription shows not only the great demand and popularity of their programmes, but also an apparent oversight in government planning. 'The big question mark is whether the government is really interested in producing thinking physical education teachers who are university graduates,' he says. 'At the moment the majority of PE teachers in the schools come from teachers' colleges and cannot be classified as specialist physical educators. They simply have not had enough training. This is why so many of them apply to do a part-time degree.' Currently the department also runs an M.Ed, and an M.Phil, programme, both of A Fledgling Sports Science and Physical Education Department Seeking to Establish Itself which started in 1994, the same year as the full-time undergraduate programme was introduced. Prior to that only part-time degree programmes were offered. In fact the department itself is only four years old, having been created in 1992 after the reorganization of the former Physical Education Department. Hurdles to be Overcome by a Young Department How does he evaluate the growth and development of his department in the four years? 'I am very pleased with our progress. But if somebody looks at us from outside the department, the distance will give a different perspective, aperspective that may be erroneous,' Dr. Robinson replies. He explains that a department may be continuously producing work, exploring new ideas and developing research, but unless one is within that department one cannot really know what is going on in it. He finds that very often the research goals of the University are set too high, given the time and capabilities of a new department. While he admits that research is important, it can be an uphill task for his department. To illustrate his point, he gives the following analogy: 'It is like planting aseed, providing it with water and nutrients, and thinking that nothing is happening while in actual fact, under the ground, a lot is 一 the soil is changing, roots are growing, etc. This is because looking from afar, you are not aware of the subtler changes taking place in the plant. It is only when the bud and flower appear that you can see the de- velopment, but that takes a long time.' Dr. Robinson would like to see more people from the Senate Committee on Physical Education or from the Faculty of Education visit the department so that their difficulties, as well as accomplishments, can be fully explained and better appreciated. Initial Lack of Equipment Has Delayed Research One such difficulty, Dr. Robinson explains, was the initial lack of laboratory equipment needed for research. Since the equipment involved was costly, the process of procuring it had to be gradual. 'We have received a sizeable amount of criticism for not having published much. But you cannot publish unless you do research, and you cannot do worthwhile research unless you have the equipment to do it with. But I am happy to say that now much of our research is yielding results, and the work of staff members is coming to the fore. So I have no worries about the department's research and publication. It is just a matter of giving people the time and the opportunity to do it,' he says. A primary area of the department's research is children's health status, and the amount of physical education knowledge they need to maintain fitness and good health. Research is underway to evaluate the impact of heavy school satchels on the posture and back of school children. There is also a project to study how respiratory muscles can be trained to improve performance. Dr. Robinson himself is working with the University's Centre for Environmental Studies to study the effects of environmental pollution on the immune system and the fitness level of school children.