Research in the Department

Geography is a very exciting field of study. It distinguishes itself by its integrated approach to the investigation of interactions between people and their physical and social environments. Geographic knowledge has been proven to have valuable practical applications for several aspects of humankind’s development.

Our Department is proud of its research efforts. An environment that celebrates research excellence accords students and staff with the intellectual curiosity and confidence that are required for the successful pursuit of knowledge. Research in the Department is closely tied to our postgraduate programme and the two undergraduate teaching programmes: the BSocSc (Hons) in Geography and the BSocSc (Hons) in China Studies-Geography Concentration. Among other topics, faculty members carry out research on major socio-economic and environment-related issues confronting Hong Kong and Mainland China, focusing on the rapid spatial transformations unfolding in the region within recent decades.

Faculty members in the Department have a good track record in securing research grants from diverse sources, including the General Research Fund (GRF) administered by the Research Grant Council and the Public Policy Research (PPR) fund administrated by the Central Policy Unit. These projects often also support postgraduate research in topics that span both Physical and Human Geography. Grants from other external sources in China and the U.S. for work outside Hong Kong demonstrate the success of recent efforts to seek funding internationally. In the three years from 2013 to 2015, the Department secured three research grants from the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

The Department hosts three research centers that are very active in promoting collaborative research locally and internationally: the Centre for China Urban and Regional Studies (CURS); the Asian Energy Studies Centre (AESC); and the Centre for Geo-computation Studies (CGS).

The CURS was established in 2001 with a major donation from the Heung To Education Fund. This Centre conducts high quality research on China’s urban and regional development and promotes academic exchange between researchers in this field. The CURS has maintained very close links with the Urban China Research Network (UCRN) at the State University of New York at Albany. Together, CURS and the UCRN have jointly organized several very successful workshops and conferences on China’s urban development. Furthermore, the scope of research by faculty members is expanding. Many of our faculty members are engaged in collaborative research with scholars at institutions around the world, including in Canada, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Mainland China.

The AESC (formerly the Hong Kong Energy Studies Centre established in 1998) obtains funding support from diverse sources, such as the Research Grant Council (RGC), HKBU’s Faculty Research Grant (FRG), and other sources, to support its activities and research on sustainable energy studies, with particular focus on governance in the Asian region, including Hong Kong. A number of local as well as international scholars from Europe, North America, and the Asian-Pacific region, some of whom are AESC Research Fellows, are currently involved in AESC ’s research projects on comparative studies on the diffusion of smart grids in Japan and China, and deliberative governance and polling on energy decision-making in Japan.

HKBU Has Most World-leading Geography Research Output in Hong Kong: RAE 2014

The Department of Geography at HKBU has the most four star (world-leading) research output according to the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2014 as announced by the University Grants Committee (UGC) in January 2015.

Out of all the research projects submitted by academic staff, 12% reached four stars or world-leading standards, the most among Geography departments at sister institutions in Hong Kong. The remaining 31% of projects earned three stars (international excellence), and 35% earned two stars (international standing).

The RAE is a criterion-referenced assessment against agreed quality levels as defined by international standards. The assessment period of RAE 2014 was over 6 years, from October 2007 to September 2013, involving over 307 panel members, consisting mostly of overseas scholars with extensive knowledge and expertise in their respective disciplines. They provided perspectives on international research standards.