Experiencing Classics in the GEF Programme through Farming
Principal Supervisors

Dr. Kenneth M. Li
(Office of University General Education)
Dr. Damian W.P. Cheng
(Office of University General Education)


1 year and 8 months

Approved Budget

HK $91,910

  • Abstract
  • Brief write-up
  • Video Report


  • General Education Foundation (GEF) Programme is designed with the vision of shaping students into better global citizens by cultivating students’ knowledge, attitudes, and values through reading classics.

  • However, the lack of direct experience of the contexts in which ideas and issues arise hinders full appreciation of the classics and their relevance to contemporary life.

  • An attempt by a teacher to incorporate rooftop farming into his GEF course In Dialogue with Nature showed that hands-on experience could foster a sense of relevance and immediacy, thereby enhancing understanding of dilemmas discussed in the classics, and fostering deep reflection on the ethics of applying science in real-life situations.

  • Encouraged by the positive feedback received, we propose this pilot project to employ experiential learning through farming in both GEF courses, with the objective of improving teaching and learning and establishing a connection between the two GEF courses. Specifically, this project aims to enable students to better:
    • reflect on personal life, social system, and the ethics of scientific applications, through farming and through visits to farms and social enterprises;
    • engage in critical reflection on the classics concerned based on experience and considerations of real-life situations; and
    • gain solid understanding and appreciation of the classics.

Brief write-up

Project objectives

This project aims at employing experiential learning through farming to improve teaching and learning of and establish a connection between the two General Education Foundation (GEF) courses, namely In Dialogue with Humanity and In Dialogue with Nature. Students are encouraged to reflect on personal life, social system, and the ethics of scientific applications, through field trips and hands-on farming practices.

Activities, process and outcomes

Four half-day field trips and one two-month rooftop farming were organized to benefit 143 students studying the two GEF courses. Students are required to watch tailor-made lecture videos to gain pre-requisite knowledge before joining the experiential learning activities. Discussion and debriefing sessions were held to foster students’ reflection, and they were required to submit reflective essays after the activities.

Deliverables and evaluation

Seven online lecture videos were produced to flip the “classrooms” of experiential learning. A rooftop farm in the Hui Yeung Shing Building in CUHK was established. A website “Experiencing Classics” was developed to host the lecture videos, document the activities and publish selected students’ reflective essays. The evaluation was performed by questionnaires and the analysis of students’ reflective essays. This project led to the generation of one oral and two poster presentations in two local and international conferences.

Dissemination, diffusion, impact and sharing of good practices

This project was reported in UGE News published by the Office of University General Education. The experiential learning and flipped classroom practice was a highlighted teaching case in Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research’s website “Flipped Classroom Approach in Hong Kong Higher Education”. Our rooftop Farm promoted the exchange of ideas with the Venerable Prof. Shih Chao Wei and some exchange students from Yale University.

Video Report

Please click the following link for viewing the report.