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Academy of Interdisciplinary Studies Driving Innovation

Image Credits: HKUST, Press Release
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The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has made a significant advancement in its interdisciplinary research and education by transforming the Interdisciplinary Programmes Office (IPO) into the Academy of Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS).

This change aims to establish a central hub that fosters innovative pedagogy and interdisciplinary research in emerging fields like Art Tech and Biodesign, enabling greater adaptability and flexibility.

As a research university, HKUST is dedicated to facilitating Hong Kong’s transformation into a global hub for innovation and technology. Recognising the importance of interdisciplinary talent development in this endeavour, HKUST has established AIS as a central hub to enhance the university’s efforts in attracting, nurturing, and retaining cross-disciplinary talent.

The primary goal is to empower these individuals to lead the university’s six research focuses and equip students with the skills to address the intricate and diverse challenges of today’s society.

As a designated tenure home for faculty, the newly established Academy of Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) will not only have increased flexibility in recruiting interdisciplinary faculty members in emerging fields but also introduce a new Master’s program in Technology Innovation.

Additionally, it will expand existing academic initiatives to facilitate greater integration and knowledge exchange among students from various schools. This expansion comes in addition to the management of the current 11 undergraduate and postgraduate interdisciplinary programs by AIS.

According to President of HKUST, the significance of interdisciplinary approaches has grown in both education and scientific research. Addressing urgent global challenges like population aging and climate change demands the collaboration and exchange of ideas across multiple disciplines, surpassing the boundaries of traditional single disciplines.

The transformation of IPO into AIS demonstrates HKUST’s dedication to nurturing interdisciplinary talent, supporting Hong Kong’s progress as an international hub for innovation and technology. It also serves as a noteworthy milestone for HKUST as it embarks on the HKUST 3.0 journey, striving to become a distinguished institution for learning, exploration, and innovation.

HKUST’s Provost stated that the Academy of Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) will not only foster the development of new interdisciplinary programs and research but also function as a central hub to drive the outcomes and impact of interdisciplinary studies.

With its adaptable and agile nature, AIS will play a crucial role in achieving institutional objectives, such as recruiting faculty members in emerging areas and supporting cross-campus programs to enhance collaboration with HKUST(GZ).

According to the Dean of the Academy of Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) at HKUST, AIS will strengthen and broaden existing focus areas like environment and sustainability, public policy, and integrated system design. Additionally, AIS will actively pursue new pedagogical, teaching, and research initiatives in emerging fields such as AI for Education, Metaverse, Art Tech, Biodesign, and Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing.

The AIS Dean also expressed enthusiasm for witnessing the collaborative endeavours of the esteemed faculty members and exceptional students, as they generate innovative ideas and contribute to societal advancements for a better future.

AIS, in collaboration with an HKUST Professor of Electronic and Computer Engineering and an accomplished entrepreneur renowned for nurturing five unicorns and numerous startups, has developed plans to introduce a new Master’s programme in Technology Innovation.

This programme aims to equip professionals with a blend of technical expertise and marketing skills, with the goal of bridging the divide between research discoveries and their practical implementation as products and solutions for the betterment of society.

AIS will play a crucial role in amplifying the outcomes and impact of interdisciplinary studies, aligning with the strategic plan of HKUST, including its branch in HKUST(GZ). This involves transforming the University’s Common Core Curriculum and expanding the renowned Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) into a new initiative called UxOP.

UxOP enables students to apply their knowledge and skills while collaborating with peers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds through hands-on research, teaching, internships, and the exploration of global challenges and opportunities.

Furthermore, the scope of the “Major+X” academic framework, launched by HKUST in 2021, will be further extended with the addition of new extended majors. This academic framework offers undergraduate students the flexibility to combine a traditional major with emerging subjects such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Media and Creative Arts (DMCA), fostering a broader and more comprehensive educational experience.

AIS will drive breakthroughs in interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly in emerging fields like Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing, Biodesign, and Art Tech. This includes developing advanced algorithms and software systems for physics, chemistry, and environmental science, integrating engineering and biology for medical advancements, and exploring the fusion of art and technology for new forms of expression and societal impact.

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