On 17 April 2019, the 7th Global Social Science Graduate Student Conference was attended by close to hundred students and guests at the Madam Kwok Chung Po Fun Sports and Cultural Centre. With a central theme of “Becoming Agents of Technological Change”, 45 students from 27 universities in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and the United States presented their research at the conference.
The conference featured two keynote speeches delivered by Prof. Angela Ki Che Leung from Department of History in the University of Hong Kong and Prof. Gong Peng, from Department of Earth System Science in Tsinghua University. Participants benefited from Prof. Leung’s lecture on how technological transformation of the condiment i.e. soy sauce (first recorded in print in the 14th century) and its commodification in the early 20th century, revealed profound changes in agricultural resources, socio-political landscape, and the globalization of China’s market. Her sharing titled “Becoming an Everyday Food: Changing Technology and Values of Modern Chinese Soy Sauce 1750-1950” was insightful in how she traced the evolution of scientific technology and the generation of new values to an otherwise mundane artefact in China. On the other hand, Prof. Gong’s sharing was focused on China’s major achievement in the general field of global change studies in recent years. He also discussed recent concepts and latest development related to global change including planetary boundaries and key research conducted to address these issues in the front of biodiversity, ecosystems, and water quality improvement. Titled “From Global Change to Planetary Health”, his succinct lecture highlighted how planetary health should be seen as a primary goal in model civilization for the societies today.
After the keynote speeches, a dialogue was conducted by Prof. Bailey and Ms Yap Soo Ei, PhD student from the Department of History, together with Prof. Leung and Prof. Gong. It was a stimulating discussion followed by the Q&A session where participants and guests were enthusiastic to raise questions or share their comments on their lectures.
Conference participants also discussed a wide array of topics in the following nine parallel sessions including “Geographical Sciences for Smart Societies”, “Social Equality and Application of Technologies in Asia”, “Agents and/or Historical Developments of Science and Innovation”, “Innovative Technologies in Sports and Health Promotion”, “Changing Times – Debating Global Society”, “Technology-assisted Teaching and Learning in Modern Education” and “Politics and Contemporary Debates on Technological Changes or Issues on Inclusivity”.