Deepening the Connections: GE at HKBU

Prof. Hoshmand was invited by Fudan University to write a journal on the philosophy of general education and the design of HKBU GE programme. The article was then translated and published in the journal Fudan General Education Vol.6 No.1.

Posted below is the original article and translation. Offline versions
are available for downloading.
English version

Deepening the Connections: General Education at Hong Kong Baptist University

A. Reza Hoshmand

Like the other local tertiary institutions, Hong Kong Baptist University has adopted a four-year degree programme of study to commence in 2012. This change from a 3-year degree to a 4-year degree curriculum has offered the universities an opportunity to further strengthen the educational experiences of their students. In this connection, our university has devoted its efforts to include the concept of liberal education in the degree requirements for a bachelor degree and created the General Education Programme. From the inception of the programme, Hong Kong Baptist University took the initiative to align it with the philosophy of “Whole Person Education” which has been the centre piece of the mission of this institution since its establishment in 1956.

The General Education (GE) curriculum is expected to play a key role in students’ overall undergraduate experience, complementing studies in the specialised disciplines and other learning opportunities. It will expand their educational exposure to a variety of interdisciplinary areas through courses, seminars, practicum and interest group activities. The aim is to ignite students’ interest in extending their learning experiences beyond the traditional subjects and to attain an all-round education experience. It also provides an opportunity that helps its students to define themselves as productive members of society who draw inspiration from independent observation and challenges they encounter. Furthermore, these educational experiences in GE hopes to cultivate interest in our students for life-long learning.

University education aims to provide a well-balanced experience to students. Apart from equipping our graduates with sound knowledge in their specialized field of studies, we also nurture and prepare them to be responsible citizens and independent thinkers with the heart and aspiration to excel in their life endeavors. Ultimately, they will serve our communities, large and small, and we must provide them with the tool with which they have to face and cope with the ever changing challenges ahead.

Accordingly, seven programme intended learning outcomes (PILOs) have been developed for the GE Programme. By the time students have completed the 38 units of the GE Programme, they should be able to:

  1. Communicate effectively as speakers and writers in both English and Chinese;
  2. Access and manage complex information and problems using technologically appropriate means;
  3. Apply appropriate mathematical reasoning to address problems in everyday life;
  4. Acquire an active and healthy lifestyle;
  5. Use historical and cultural perspectives to gain insight into contemporary issues;
  6. Apply various value systems to decision-making in personal, professional, and social/political situations;
  7. Make connections among a variety of disciplines to gain insight into contemporary personal, professional, and community situations.

Our university has devised its General Education Programme into two distinct categories: The Core Requirement and the Distribution Requirements. The core courses are common to all, whereas the distribution courses allow the students to further broaden their horizons by taking courses outside their field of study.

In particular, the core requirements serve to provide additional academic breadth; support the development of high-level competencies; and to implement a pedagogy that promotes personal development, moral reasoning and citizenship. These attributes are important and beneficial to graduates who will face challenges and take up responsibilities in an increasingly competitive and ever-changing environment after graduation.

The aim of the distribution requirements is to broaden the scope of students’ learning by having them pursue areas of knowledge outside of their major discipline. Five areas of learning have been identified: Arts, Business, Communication/Visual Arts, Science/Chinese Medicine, and Social Sciences. As students will already be in a faculty that is within one of these five areas of learning, they will be required to take one course from each of the other four areas, for a total of 12 units.

Outcomes in these courses will align with one or more of the seven intended learning outcomes discussed above. Of particular importance to the distribution requirements is the seventh programme intended learning outcome which asks that students strive to make connections among and synthesize information produced by a variety of disciplines so as to gain insight into contemporary personal, professional, and community situations. As these connections often cross different fields and disciplines, students will be encouraged to take “interdisciplinary” courses to fulfill their GE requirements. Hence, we have incorporated a set of courses in the distribution category under the title of “Interdisciplinary” courses.

In keeping with the University Grant Council’s (UGC) requirement, the Outcome-based Teaching and Learning (OBTL) approach is adopted for the GE programme. Towards this end, a set of intended learning outcomes for the overall GE programme and for each GE category under the Core and Distribution Requirements (including interdisciplinary courses) have been developed. Thus, at the macro level, emphasis will be placed on the course intended learning outcomes (CILOs) and their alignment with the overall intended learning outcomes of the GE programme (PILO) as well as those of the respective GE categories (Cat-ILO).

At the course/micro level, OBTL expects constructive alignment between the CILOs, the Teaching and Learning Activities (TLAs) and the Assessment Methods (AMs) such that the learners know what is expected of them; be facilitated to achieve the set outcome via well- structured TLAs and be properly assessed for competency in achievement of the said CILOs via suitable AMs. In all of our GE courses we have emphasized the following desired characteristics:

  • Utilize engaged pedagogies;
  • Emphasize intellectual content as well as generic skills in communication, inquiry, thinking, problem-solving and teamwork;
  • Adopt an interdisciplinary frame of reference to foster an appreciation of the relations among different fields of knowledge;
  • Relate the subject matters to modern human experience;
  • Encourage an inquisitive mind and self-reflection.

As Hong Kong Baptist University moves to implement a 4-year degree program in 2012, it has taken a number of steps to prepare for such a transition. One important element of this change has to do with the design, and development of GE courses. The university has so far developed over 230 courses for delivery in 2012. The newly created General Education Office (GEO) has been given the responsibility to assist in the smooth implementation of the GE Programme at Hong Kong Baptist University. To prepare for the delivery of GE courses, GEO has worked closely with the various academic units and the Academic Registry to ensure proper scheduling and delivery of GE courses for the double cohort that will be on campus in 2012. Additionally, the GEO will work closely with the faculty colleagues to assure high quality teaching/learning experience for our students.

We recognize that because of the dynamic nature of academic environments, it will be essential that the faculty of the institution be ready and willing to design, develop, and deliver additional interdisciplinary courses in the future years.

We believe that with the significant effort from all the academic units of the university, we have developed a dynamic General Education Programme of study for our students. This approach for broadly educating our students or ‘deepening the connection’ will have a significant impact on the lives of our graduates.


Hoshmand, A. Reza (2012). Deepening the Connections: General Education at Hong Kong Baptist University. In F. Lu (Ed.), Fudan General Education Vol.6 No.1. (pp. 12-19). Shanghai: Fudan University.


賀書孟 *

吳雲香譯 **





  1. 中英雙語讀寫能力強,溝通效果佳;
  2. 採取適當技術手段獲取並處理複雜信息及問題;
  3. 運用適當的數學推理解決日常生活中的問題;
  4. 擁有積極健康的生活方式;
  5. 採用歷史和文化的視角,洞察當代問題;
  6. 運用不同的價值體系,做出有關個人、專業以及社會/政治的決策;
  7. 聯繫不同學科,洞察當代個人、專業以及社區情況。







  • 採用參與式教學方法;
  • 強調在溝通、調查、思考、問題解決以及團隊合作中的知識內容以及通用技巧;
  • 採取跨學科參考架構,培養對不同知識領域間聯繫的鑑別能力;
  • 聯繫學科內容與現代人類經驗;
  • 鼓勵好奇心與自我反思。





* 作者是香港浸會大學通識教育處總監,教授。

** 譯者是復旦大學高教所碩士研究生。

中文版本引註︰賀書孟(2012),吳雲香(譯)。深化聯繫︰香港浸會大學的通識教育。載於陸昉(主編),復旦通識教育 第六卷 第一期(頁12-19)。上海市︰復旦學院。