Department of Geography and Resource Management (GRM), The Chinese University of Hong Kong

General Education Courses

University General Education (UGE), an important component of undergraduate curriculum, aims to broaden the interests and horizons of students, give them a widen perspective, and cultivate their ability to face a wide range of issues in daily life. Our Department offers many UGE courses for non-GRM students of other departments to gain exposure in different areas of geography and resource management studies.

Please also refer to the information in the CUHK Undergraduate Handbook (Select Curriculum and then Course Details) and Office of University General Education for more information.


Courses in this category *

* You may also check the Registration and Examinations Section of CUHK for further information such as courses to be offered in this semester/year.


UGEA 1212 Understanding China through Cultural Landscape
文化景觀 探識中國

This course aims to introduce China’s cultural heritages from the perspective of cultural geography. As an important sub-discipline in human geography, cultural geography examines how people use space and develop it into places – a process of cultural landscape formation. “Space” here is nothing immutable or monolithic; instead, individuals, groups, civilizations and their culture “craft” characteristic places through interactions with the surrounding environment and specific political and economic systems (themselves determined by culture). China provides numerous extraordinary examples to illustrate these topics. The course includes four key components: 1) the theoretical foundation: fundamentals of cultural geography; 2) the legacies and regional variations of China’s cultural heritages; 3) topical issues about China’s cultural heritages; 4) the cultural convergence in aspects of globalization and cultural transformation. The course provides not only a body of knowledge about the cultural landscape and spatial variations of places in China, but also an understanding of their major transformations that have taken place in a globalizing world.

UGEB 1115 Climate Change: Science, Society and Public Education

The global science community has reached the consensus that climate change will pose serious threats to our future. Science messages on climate change have to be communicated to the public so that concerted efforts by organizations and individuals can be made to counter its ill effects. The course will be tailored with due regard to the actual situation in Hong Kong, and will provide students with the science basis of climate change as well as informal learning experiences including real-life practicing opportunities of climate change adaption, mitigation and public education in the local setting. Science principles underlying the causes of climate change, its impacts on global climate and the environment, as well as efforts aimed at mitigating the consequences will be discussed in the course. In the local context, students will learn the various means by which sustainable and cost-effective means of carbon emission reduction could be achieved in Hong Kong. Students will also learn how to promote public awareness of climate change by understanding the work of The Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (MoCC). They will obtain hands-on experiences with the design of interactive science exhibits and organization of extension programmes which serve to elucidate the concept of climate change. Students can also develop creativity and communication skills as they plan, design and implement an environmental conservation outreach programme for MoCC. At the conclusion of this course, students will have a firm understanding of the subject matter and will be in a better position to promote public awareness of climate change which is crucial to conserving the environment.

UGEB 2113 Nature Conservation in Hong Kong

This course aims at providing students with an overall view on nature conservation in general and Hong Kong in particular. The concepts and principles of nature conservation will be addressed from a holistic point of view, followed by an investigation of nature conservation practices and their effect on the environment in Hong Kong. The latter shall include legislation, designation and management of country and marine parks as well as geoparks. Threats to protected areas and their mitigation for sustainability in Hong Kong will also be addressed alongside comparison with overseas experiences. The course does not teach students how to identify the different species of plants, birds, insects, corals or rocks. Instead, it provides a framework for students to look at nature conservation from the ecologic, environmental and socio-cultural perspectives, and to differentiate the global trend of nature conservation from Hong Kong’s adaptive capacities of the issue. The development of nature conservation in the 21st century in response to globalization and climate change will be addressed towards the end of the course.

UGEB 2114 Climate, Energy & Life

This course presents the story of the Earth’s atmosphere since its inception up to the current time, illustrating the close interactions between the physical world and the living world. The life phenomenon is discussed, including the role of energy and information in the sustenance of life, individually and collectively. The human condition, the emergence of civilization, the conflict between nomads and pastoralists, and maritime colonialism are discussed in the climate context. Industrial revolution and consumerism are discussed in terms of their energy consumption and associated emission of greenhouse gases, which has given rise to man-made climate change. How human society would deal with hazardous climate change will be explored. It would be a time to reflect on core human values and how they are to be expressed in the inevitable low-energy world.

UGEB 2123 Environmental Crises - China and the World
環境危機 - 中國與世界

This course will provide an introduction of China’s major environmental and energy crises as well as their global impacts. It covers topics from air pollution (both indoor and outdoor), water shortage (due to the lack of water resources and water pollution), transportation especially in urban China, rising energy consumption and associated energy security, and greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The foci will not only cover the causes and seriousness of the crises from the perspectives of science, technology, society and governance, but also possible solutions and emerging norms related to the topics. The course endeavors to inspire students to reflect on their own communities and re-assess the impact of rapid urbanization and economic development, in China and beyond.

UGEB 2132 Earth as Seen from Space

This is a general education course for students of various disciplines to understand basic geographical phenomena and grasp important geographic concepts through the study of remote sensing images, particularly satellite images. Topics include: landform, atmosphere, tropical rainforest, land degradation, environmental pollution, agriculture, urban growth and planning and regional development. Selected topics are lectured with demonstration of slides showing images taken at various parts of the Earth to illustrate the geographical phenomena and concepts.

UGEB 2151 China's Mega-projects in the New Millennium

As the most populous country in the world, China is confronted by the problems of overpopulation, desertification, land degradation, drought, floods, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Since 1978 the economy has grown rapidly and as of to date, it has become a rising economic power of the world. However, environmental pollution and ecological degradation have reached a point whereby sustainable growth is jeopardized. The conflict between development and conservation will intensify with China’s plan to develop the west and accession to the World Trade Organization. To maintain the momentum of growth, China has implemented and planned for several mega-projects of far-reaching repercussions, the scale of which is unmatched in the history of mankind. They range from multi-purpose water conservancy projects to biological engineering projects and inter-provincial railway construction. These projects have been conceived for decades yet highly controversial and expensive to build. The course gives students a general background of these mega-projects, the problems they attempt to resolve, benefits as well as their impact on the environment. After taking this course, students should have a comprehensive understanding about the occurrence, nature and possible solutions of the various environmental problems China is facing. Lectures will be supplemented with slides and videos from time to time.

UGEB 2161 Resource Issues in the Age of Globalization

This course introduces students to the interactions of man and environment in a geographical context. Because of globalization, the growth of population, increasing need for use of resources, and in particular the dynamism of societies like Hong Kong, the course draws substantially on resource issues that are of most concern. The course focuses on basic geographical concepts and modern techniques in resource development. The role of geography and resource management is emphasized on topical issues that affect lives in modern societies, particularly in this age of globalization. The course will help students to broaden their views in understanding the importance of resource issues in dynamic societies like Hong Kong and the region at large.

UGEB 2182 Environmental Challenges in Hong Kong

This course attempts to encourage students to probe into the environmental issues of Hong Kong through a number of case studies and field observations. The aim is to help students appreciate the complexity of environmental issues and to re-examine them in a critical and balanced manner so as to broaden their vision in analysing environmental problems and to develop their ability in problem-solving.

UGEB 2222 Natural Hazards

This course examines the physical and human dimensions of natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, floods and landslides, soil erosion and desertification. The focus will be on the causes of major natural hazards, their geographical distribution, risk and disaster to human society, and human response to prepare, prevent and mitigate negative impacts. Study of the interaction between society and natural hazards will help students better understand the man-environment relationship. An issue-based approach will be adopted to address a wide variety of geological, meteorological, hydrological, ecological, and technological hazards. While the coverage will be broad and global, case studies of threats, occurrence and consequences of natural hazards in Hong Kong and Mainland China will be emphasized.

UGEB 2240 Natural Wonders of the World

For many of us, the natural wonders of our planet are well known, for example, Antarctica, the Amazon Forests, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon. Yet, few people really understand their formation and presence. Therefore, this course will introduce students to the concepts and processes of environmental change, including plate tectonics, climatic variation, desertification, oceanic and atmospheric circulation, erosion, river sedimentation as well as land degradation and global warming. ‘Natural Wonders of the World’ adopts a scientific approach to help students understand both the natural and human-induced processes of environmental change behind some of the planet’s most famous natural landscapes, landforms and natural phenomena. An integrated approach to the basic physical processes that shape the planet, including the geological, atmospheric, hydrological and ecological, will be emphasized. Students will also gain an understanding of the varying importance of these “wonders” in shaping the environment on a regional and global scale. The course is designed around the four themes of: (i) the processes and patterns of landscape formation; (ii) the varying scales of sites on the regional and global environment; (iii) the combination of natural and human-induced environmental change; and, (iv) the methods and challenges of protecting natural wonders. In addition to examining the dual processes of natural and human-induced environmental change, the students’ negative preconceptions of volcanic eruptions, monsoons, climatic variation and erosion will be challenged. Finally, a deeper understanding of how human activities are changing these natural phenomena and how they can be protected will be discussed.

UGEC 1120 Understanding Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area

Since the establishment of the Special Administrative Region in 1997 under “One Country Two Systems”, the synergy between Hong Kong, Macao and the PRD has been renewed. With the recent Central Government’s initiative of the development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, there will be closer and mutually beneficial cooperation among cities in this economic region. This will reshape the socio-economic relations and the urban landscapes of the three places. Studying the changing relations of Hong Kong, Macao and the PRD will not only help students understand the dynamic socio-economic development of the Greater Bay Area as a rapidly growing megacity region in the world, but also capture the latest transformation of the region. A wide variety of teaching and learning activities, including lectures, forums and video watching will be conducted to present a lively and comprehensive picture of the Greater Bay Area to students.

UGEC 2171 Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is a still-evolving concept which seeks to harmonize the relationship between population growth, environment and development. As of to date, the only unified views about the concept are that it should be value-laden, country-specific and build on an inseparable economic, social and ecological framework. The first part of the course addresses the fundamental issues of the concept: evolutionary history, contradictions, sustainability indicators, assessment tools and application. The second part comprises case studies pertaining to Hong Kong, with special emphasis on the sustainable development of environment, economy, transport, agriculture, recreation and fishery. Field trips may be provided to enhance student’s learning experience.

UGEC 2192 Understanding Ecotourism

This course will introduce ecotourism which is an important component of the tourism industry, and is becoming relevant to most societies. It will develop and focus on a natural resource-based perspective incorporating resource and environmental management principles. The first part of the course will cover the general introductory concepts and provide students with theoretical and historical background of the discipline. This will be followed by in-depth study of specific environmental settings and resource issues that will complement our understanding of ecotourism. Hong Kong is the main focus of discussion in this part though examples or cases in China and worldwide are also provided throughout the course. Critical issues in ecotourism such as its multi-dimensional impacts, governance, planning, and resource and visitor management will also be covered. Lastly, the students will be exposed to the relation of the phenomenon of ecotourism and the concept of sustainable tourism.

UGEC 2201 Pursuit of Ideal Living Environment

The pursuit of ideal living environment has long been a human undertaking throughout history. Because of environmental variations, some places are definitely better than the others for living and development. In the ancient time, man strived for searching a nice place for settlement where could provide a better resource base. Nowadays, man acquires sciences and technologies to change or even create the environment that makes living pleasant and comfortable. This course provides the student with the insights needed to gain an understanding of ideal environment for living from the perspective of a geographer. Topics include environmental perception, siting and location, urbanization, land use and functions, urban planning, urban design, architecture and interior design. As the course examines the understanding of ideal environment for living from different angles, students will not only gain objective geographical knowledge about the relationship between man and environment, but also learn how some urban challenges and issues are tackled. While the coverage will be broad and pluralistic, examples and cases of mainland China and Hong Kong will be emphasized.

UGEC 2210 Food and Hunger

This course examines food from different perspectives: historical, social, economic, political, cultural, ecological and environmental. It begins with a global overview of the domestication of plants and animals for food, evolution of agriculture, food security and famine, food trade, as well as food safety and ethics. The pros and cons of conventional, transgenic and organic agriculture will be examined from a holistic point of view. This is followed by an investigation of China’s food supply potentials and problems, regional development of food tastes, and attempt to revolutionize its food production strategy in the 21st century. Lectures will be supplemented with videos and slides.

UGEC 2226 Discovering Africa: Environment, Society and Prospects

Popular representations of the African continent produced in global discussions are marked by a stereotyped image of Africa, its culture, environment and development. The purpose of this course is to critically examine the common framing of Africa as a continent of conflict, disasters, poverty and a region that is perpetually in need of external intervention. The course will present to students the context of Africa relating to its situation, geography, environment, culture as well as contemporary development issues shaping the destiny of Africa. The course will provide an intellectual platform to understand and analyze issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective as they relate to Africa. Africa is a land of great contrasts and possesses a rich mix of scenic beauty, impressive biodiversity, diverse cultures, untapped and underused natural resources as well as an interesting history. Africa is continuously misunderstood and misrepresented. Some of these issues include health issues, disasters, conflicts, economic and development challenges, etc. These will kindle the student’s intellectual curiosity and allow them to critically appreciate challenges and prospects facing the African continent. This course will provide an academically critical platform to sensitize students of the contemporary trend of Africa in the global arena.

UGEC 2231 Decoding Cities

Cities have always been magnets attracting a growing number of citizens. The unprecedented pace of urbanization has recently witnessed a historic shift of human population with the majority now living in cities. The growth of cities in this age of globalization raises many opportunities and challenges, concerning the quality of life, poverty, sustainability, environmental degradation and urban competitiveness. All of these issues and problems deserve our attention. This course examines cities from different perspectives: historical, social, economic, cultural and environmental. At the global level, an overview of different types of cities, city networks as well as the impact of globalization on urban development will be addressed. At the regional level, it attempts to explore the emergence of cross-border economic regions and urban corridors in Mainland China. At the local level, the internal dynamics of cities will be addressed. By adopting a holistic approach, a variety of cities will be chosen as case studies for understanding urban development. While the coverage will be broad and global, case studies of Mainland China and Hong Kong will be emphasized. Lectures will be supplemented with videos.