Date: Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), Peking University (PekingU), and The University of Chicago (UChicago) held a ceremony today at PolyU to officially launch a joint programme to promote social work education and research in China. The collaboration is generously supported by a three-million US-dollar endowment from Anna Pao Sohmen Foundation and Iris Pacific Investment (“靜瞳投資”), both of which are actively involved in community service.


According to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by PolyU’s Department of Applied Social Sciences (APSS), PekingU’s Department of Sociology (DS), and UChicago’s School of Social Service Administration (SSA), this five-year collaboration aims to advance the development of graduate social education and research in social work, social welfare, and social policy in China, and to facilitate collaborative international graduate education and research in social work.


The international tripartite partnership will take the form of student and scholar exchanges among the three universities, including Distinguished Visiting Fellowships for scholars and International Study Exchange and Scholarship Programmes for master’s and doctoral students. It will benefit students by providing them with exposure to diverse approaches in the discipline, and will benefit scholars and professionals by facilitating the exchange of scholarly knowledge, research ideas, and professional skills. By embracing the diverse experience and expertise of the three institutions, this partnership will enable the identification of innovative responses to social needs and problems for the betterment of their respective communities.


The initiative builds on PolyU’s existing relationships with the partner institutions. Over the past two years, PolyU has been organising joint activities with UChicago, and PekingU is one of PolyU’s long-term research and education collaborators.


PolyU President Professor Timothy W. Tong said, “What one university can do is limited, and I am pleased to witness this tri-partite collaboration. The cross-boundary exchange of experiences, professional skills and ideas will contribute to the innovation in social work theories and practices. It would help social workers do their tasks with higher efficacy, eventually benefiting the community at large.”


Speaking at the launching ceremony, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung,
paid warm tributes to all concerned in spearheading and supporting this new collaborative platform. He said, “The formation of this tripartite exchange programme demonstrates that Hong Kong has a highly strategic role to play in facilitating knowledge and experience exchanges between the East and the West in the academic and social domains. The international partnership fostered and the intellectual work produced in the fields of social work, social welfare and social policy by this platform would serve to improve the quality of social work education in all three places.”

Representing the donor Anna Pao Sohmen Foundation, Mrs. Anna P. Sohmen delivered a talk on “Being engaged is to learn the others’ perspective”, which shows her philanthropy and her passion toward young people.

Other officiating guests of the launch ceremony held today included Ms Sue Peng, Founder of Iris Pacific Investment (“靜瞳投資”); Prof. Angelina Yuen, Vice President (Student and Global Affairs) of PolyU; Prof. Daniel W.L. Lai, Chair Professor and Head of APSS of PolyU; Prof. Jing Zhang, Professor and Chair of DS of PekingU; and Prof. Neil B. Guterman, Dean of SSA of UChicago. Over 130 leaders in the academic and professional fields, social work professionals, stakeholders and students attended the event.



(from left) Prof. Angelina Yuen, VP(SGA), PolyU; Prof. Jing Zhang, Professor, Chair of Department of Sociology, Peking U; Prof. Neil B. Guterman, Dean, SSA, UChicago; Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare; Mrs Anna P. Sohmen, Chairman, Anna Pao Sohmen Foundation; Ms Sue Peng, Founder, Iris Pacific Investment (“靜瞳投資”); Prof. Timothy W. Tong, President, PolyU; and Prof. Daniel Lai, Chair Professor and Head, APSS, PolyU at the Launch Ceremony



Welcoming address by Professor Timothy W. Tong, PolyU President



Launch remarks by Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare