Global perspective broadened by Hong Kong student field trip

23 May 2018

Twenty students have experienced urban regeneration, adaptive reuse of heritage buildings, natural hazard mitigation, animal habitats and land reclamation initiatives first hand in a University of Queensland international field trip to Hong Kong and Macau.

The trip enabled students to learn about the natural landscapes and urban developments in the fast-growing Pearl River Delta region.

Urban planner Dr Sébastien Darchen and physical geographer Dr Annie Lau led the interdisciplinary trip, organised regularly over the past 10 years by UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Dr Lau said the course, which also includes lectures and workshops during semester one, facilitated the students’ understanding of historical and future developments in Hong Kong, and how heritages can be conserved and revitalised.

“Although Hong Kong is small in size, it has a wide range of natural environments for the study of geology, geomorphology and ecology,” she said.

“Sites visited include wetlands, beaches, a sewage treatment works housed in an underground rock cavern, and a granite mountain (the Lion Rock) which is only a one-hour hike from the city.

“Students learned about coastline flooding problems and defences in a low-lying fishing village, landslides hazards and mitigation, environmental management challenges including water quality and pollution, and the creation of new space in the high-density cities.”

Dr Lau and Dr Darchen said the trip exposed students to environmental and development challenges different to those they would find in Queensland cities.

“Hong Kong is a ‘world city’, and integral to recent Chinese economic development,” she said.

Dr Darchen said: “I have run this course for five years now and each time the students gain a lot out of it – they understand planning and environmental challenges in another context, and it broadens their perspective on what they can achieve within their discipline.”

Student Jacob Boomsma said the Hong Kong field trip enabled him to explore a region of the world about which he had no idea.

“The coordinators facilitated an informative perspective on Hong Kong, and I've gained a bunch of new friends," he said.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students majoring in geography, planning, and environmental management participated in GEOS3004, International Field Studies: Natural and Built Environments (Hong Kong) during April.