Professor Mark Mason, Head of the Department of International Education, has been awarded a Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship grant for his research proposal, “Hong Kong Torn Asunder: Values, ethics and education out of the impasse”.
“Hong Kong has been left,” said Professor Mason, “following sustained clashes over the nature of its relationship with Mainland China, divided from itself and torn asunder – socially, culturally and politically – from the country of which it is ultimately an integral part.”
He sees the roots of this impasse in a clash of values: the liberal autonomy associated with western democracies against a strongly interpreted communitarian ethos typical of Confucian Heritage cultures. His principal objective is to address the question as to how this clash of values might be reconciled, first, by defending a principle-based ethics – what he calls the “ethics of integrity”; and, second, by setting out how cross-cultural differences in values might be resolved by recourse to transcultural values and educational ideals.
Professor Mason’s final objective is to show how these ethics might be embedded in education in Hong Kong, through a consideration of education and culture; education for reason and rationality; and educational change in the context of complexity. He hopes that the project’s significance will lie in its potential impact in laying the groundwork for a public discourse that might help to heal Hong Kong; and in defending values and ethics that might guide the education of young people in Hong Kong through this conflict.
Professor Mason said that he was particularly pleased to win this Prestigious Fellowship, not least because it was the first research grant he had ever applied for. “The research I do is mainly conceptual, analytical and policy-related, which doesn’t require additional funding. But, given the nature of the research environment these days, I thought I would give the Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship a shot.”