Lingnan University, the pioneer in Hong Kong in promoting service-learning in tertiary curriculum, officially opened the 3rd Asia-Pacific Conference on Service-Learning entitled “Make a Difference: Impacts of Service-Learning” on 9 June 2011, with more than 300 attendees from education, government and service sectors of 15 countries and regions around the world.
Jointly organised by the Office of Service-Learning (OSL) of Lingnan University, the Lingnan Foundation and the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, the four-day seminar provides educators, students, government officials and service organisations with an important platform to exchange ideas on the role and development of service-learning, a teaching and learning strategy that combines rigorous academic study with voluntary community service in making a difference to the world.
Mr Michael Stone, Secretary-General of the University Grants Committee and Prof Chan Yuk-Shee, President of Lingnan University officiated the opening ceremony. Mr Stone commended Lingnan University as the pioneer in developing service-learning at the universities in Hong Kong and stressed its importance, saying that “With proper guidance from teachers and students’ own reflection during the learning process, service-learning can instil civic responsibility, encourage life-long civic engagement and strengthen community giving. All these are important attributes for society and for future leaders to have."
In his address at the opening ceremony, Prof Chan said, "Education is not only limited to knowledge, but is also related to personal growth and civic engagement. Service-learning is the spread of humanity; it is something to share, not something to own. By engaging our young academics in community service and intercultural exchanges, we can help create a harmonious community."
Two keynote speakers were invited to share their insights on service-learning at the conference, including Ms Thelma Kay, former Director of the Social Development Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) based in Bangkok; and Prof Dayle Smith, Professor of Management and former Chair of the Organisations, Leadership & Society Department, University of San Francisco.
In her keynote speech entitled “The Role of University Students in Higher Education”, Ms Kay stressed the importance of combining theory with practice to “validate and situate theory in social/community reality”, so that students can play a crucial role in “co-creating innovative and relevant solutions to address the challenges of a rapidly changing world."
The four-day conference till 11 June 2011 also includes two symposiums on environmental issues and cross-cultural learning in service-learning, a pre-conference workshop and a series of discussion workshops.
For more information about the conference, please visit: http://www.ln.edu.hk/osl/conference2011/index.htm.