Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) will hold a two-day online international symposium with the theme “COVID-19 and Beyond, Culturally Speaking” on 15 and 16 September 2020. The novel initiative aims to analyse the COVID-19 pandemic from a cultural perspective.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is naturally perceived as a public health issue with the solutions to the crisis clearly defined in the scientific and medical domains, it is crucial to understand that the economic, educational, generational, and social crises regularly traced to COVID-19 are in fact largely the result of culture.
“Some obvious examples of such cultural issues include the global debate about the value of mask-wearing, conflicting ideas about the impact of social distancing, and the legacy of different governance and leadership styles in the fight against the virus. Yet the cultural dimensions of COVID-19 also touch on broader concerns such as cultural views about medical care and well-being, and cultural responses to the pandemic in different parts of the world,” said Professor John Erni, Fung Hon Chu Endowed Professor in Humanics at HKBU, who is a convenor of the symposium.
The symposium is a unique initiative of HKBU, and it has been designed to foster conversations that will help define the challenges and articulate solutions to issues related to COVID-19 from a cultural perspective.
“HKBU is a liberal arts university in Asia located in the global city of Hong Kong, which is defined by a mix of Western and Asian cultural traditions. It offers a compelling space, on an international and comparative basis, for examining how culture has contributed to the crises of COVID-19, and what role culture must assume as we seek to extract ourselves from the grip of the virus,” said Professor Mette Hjort, Dean of Arts and Chair Professor of Humanities at HKBU, another convenor of the symposium.
The international symposium will feature speakers who are academics and experts from a variety of disciplines and from different countries, including Australia, Canada, mainland China, Hong Kong, Denmark, France, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, South Africa, the UK and the USA. There will be seven discussion panels for speakers to exchange ideas on selected themes of interest.
Five keynote speeches on designated topics will be delivered by prominent speakers, including Professor Zhanfeng Cui, Director of the Oxford Centre for Tissue Engineering and Bioprocessing, Oxford University, UK; Professor Zhang Wenhong, Head of the Centre of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital of Fudan University, mainland China; Ms Zain Verjee, journalist and CEO of the Zain Verjee Group, Kenya; Dr George Hong, Professor, Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, Fordham University, USA; and Professor Zhang Zuofeng, Professor of Epidemiology, UCLA, USA.
Media representatives and other interested parties are welcome to join the symposium. Please refer to the symposium’s official website (www.hkbucovidcultureconf.com) for the full event programme, profiles of the speakers and online registration.