Discover & Innovate: Liberal arts and social sciences are about a lot more than theories and essays

Discover & Innovate: Liberal arts and social sciences are about a lot more than theories and essays

You might think you will be spending all of your timein the university library or writing essays,but these coursesmean a lot more than that

Liberal arts and social sciences are not all about dull theories. They are more practical than you think.

I have joined many different field trips with different themes. Have you ever considered what landfills are like in Hong Kong? You might picture tonnes of rubbish piled up with thousands of flies buzzing around. That is not what I saw when I visited the Tuen Mun EPD landfill.

Transportation vans were disinfected before they went out for another collection; and sprayers worked tirelessly to limit the amount of dust produced as the trash poured out of the vans. I saw the giant sunken surface along the roadside being filled little by little. Everything was in order.

The most worrying problem we had raised in class was whether or not leakage generated by the buried waste could pollute underground water.

Our guide showed a piece of material to explain that many layers are used in the design of the landfill to prevent leakage. It's a great feeling to find out that people are actually trying to solve a problem that we had also identified in the classroom. And it was even more encouraging to see that they had made a breakthrough.

Another unforgettable field trip inspired me to spend time reflecting on problems instead of jumping into solutions.

We always thought gambling was a problem. However, we hadn't considered how the gambling industry affects a specific group, such as university students. That question was raised during our field trip to Macau.

We visited a group who helped people with gambling issues. I was shocked to learn from the guide that not only do university students gamble, they also often work as dealers in casinos. Since the casinos offer a good salary, some choose to drop out of university to work full-time.

How could we solve this problem? Simply by changing the age limit for entering casinos?

The guide showed us some cases that inspired us to think not just about solutions but also the consequences of each solution.

Other practical activities make liberal arts and social sciences fascinating subjects. When studying China's relations with developing countries, we were divided into groups. Each group had a tutor.

We were asked to search for objects that showed links between China and developing countries on the CityU campus and in Festival Walk. We had one hour, and after the search, each group had to give a five-minute presentation.

The activity taught us that relations between China and developing countries are much stronger than we thought. We found something related to a variety of countries in the form of food, volunteer work and more. One group even presented their findings in a short play. I never thought learning could be such fun.

The world of liberal arts and social sciences is a fantastic field waiting to be explored.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
The arts isn't all boring theories


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