HKUST PPOL Newsletter Fall 2023

29 Public Policy Dialogue Series Prof. A. Cheung prompted educators to reflect on their approach to education, emphasizing the importance of imparting knowledge and wisdom. He argued against a dichotomy between science and arts, stating that both stem from liberal arts and that education should focus on understanding nature, human society, and humanhood, instead of just skills and knowledge. He acknowledged that perennial problems such as conflicts, violence and prejudice cannot be solved solely through innovation and technology (I&T). Prof. Sharif agrees with Prof. A. Cheung pointed out that STEM education is related to the need to maintain economic competitiveness or the “lever for riches”, but the challenge lies in the tendency for STEM subjects taught in isolation, with insufficient connection to Arts and not being helpful to make the world a better place. Prof. Sharif delineated the history of STEM in other countries and made a comparison, he advocated for a broader societal context for STEM education, referencing the Humboldt Model of Higher Education. Prof. Lui perceived that STEM or STEAM education would be quite demanding on the teaching skills without premanufactured teaching materials, and its demand on knowledge integration moving from one domain of knowledge to another, Prof. Lui invited us to rethink the necessity of STEM education suggesting that talents can be hired from elsewhere and warned the inevitable time-lapse in nurturing future STEM talents to address existing issues, he proposed a business ecosystem that rewarding and incentivizing innovation without seeking shortterm returns is key for Hong Kong to become a successful I&T hub. During the discussion session, Prof. A. Cheung posed three questions: the possibility of innovation without STEM, the necessary ecosystem for nonSTEM individuals, and whether I&T can sometimes limit wisdom. Prof. Sharif’s suggested that other channels can contribute to Hong Kong’s innovation ecosystem and expressed the same skeptism as Prof. Lui about the necessity to have Hong Kong’s own STEM talents. Prof. Lui added that innovation should not be restricted to hardware; focusing too much on STEM can restrict our imagination. Prof. P. Cheung emphasized that the ecosystem is a result of various factors that the government cannot easily manipulate. He stressed the importance of critical thinking and freedom of expression for creativity and exploration of ideas. In response to a question about STEM branding, Prof. Sharif suggested customizing STEM or STEAM education to make it relevant and applicable, building on the characteristics that have made Hong Kong successful as a first-world city.