Lessons from the COVID pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our lives in a multitude of ways, and it has created new, diverse challenges among societies around the world. To help examine the implications of the pandemic, HKBU held an international symposium with the theme “Transnational and Transdisciplinary Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” on 20 and 21 May. Researchers, academics and participants from Hong Kong and overseas gathered in person or virtually to exchange ideas and discuss the global and local issues related to the pandemic.
Organised by the Department of Government and International Studies, in association with the Department of Sport, Physical Education and Health and the David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies, the two-day conference was a key event in the calendar of celebratory activities organised for the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The symposium brought together over 30 speakers from Australia, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK, as well as a range of stakeholders from outside of academia. Three discussion panels and four matched parallel sessions were delivered with speakers exchanging ideas on a wide range of topics, from the economic and financial consequences of the pandemic to governance and environmental health issues.
Dr Huw Wiltshire, former National Performance Director of the Welsh and Russian Rugby Unions, gave a keynote speech on the pandemic's impact on top athletic performance. He not only discussed the importance for elite athletes to maintain specific types of training in the current times, but he also raised questions around the survival of sport in a world where human contact is restricted.
The event closed with a roundtable discussion on the future of the post-pandemic environment. The panellists highlighted that the pandemic has accelerated scientific progress, but they also stressed the need for societies to strike a balance between exercising precaution and facilitating innovation. Recognising that new opportunities can emerge out of crises, the speakers shared insights into potential areas of interdisciplinary research and expressed optimistic perspectives on humans' capacity for adaptation, innovation and ingenuity.
In the context of interdisciplinary research, Prof. Guo explained first the operation of the six research laboratories (Smart Society and System Health being the two most obvious labs for this conference) and then went onto explain the various initiatives involving COVID-19 at HKBU, in particular the project involving Prof Julien Baker, Head of SPEH.