A sustainable HKUST is a place where students learn inside and outside of the classroom. From hands-on experiences to the joys of social interaction, sustainability touches the lives of students every day.
HKUST's setting provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate real-world lessons by utilizing our campus as a "Learning Laboratory." Here are a few highlighted projects in the past year that took students beyond the classroom to help us solve real sustainability problems on campus.
"My problem-solving and collaborative skills were enhanced through the project. I hope the application will raise the sustainability awareness among our students."
Developing the Green UST Mobile App – When it came time to develop a mobile app for HKUST sustainability, it made perfect sense to turn it into a student project. Fortunately, four HKUST Computer Science and Computer Engineering students stepped up to the challenge and developed the first ever Green HKUST mobile app as their final year project. With the guidance of Professor Jogesh K. Muppala, students designed and created the app with features that include news, events, videos and sustainability tips. There is also a Green Campus Map showing various sustainable facilities available on campus and a voting function for green talks and events. The app was launched in the summer of 2014.
Applying Social Psychology to the Issue of Food Waste – In Professor Kevin Tam's "Fundamentals of Social Psychology" course, students were challenged to use their understanding of social psychology to develop solutions to one of the real and pressing problems on campus – the waste of food from the canteens. Three student teams selected the problems of food waste and spent the semester designing campaigns to stimulate changes to wasteful behaviors. First, students selected and applied a narrow set of social psychology concepts in the context of sustainability to study human behavior related to food waste. Based on the analysis, they formulated strategies and campaigns as proposed solutions. Through active discussion and feedback from practitioners and stakeholders, students were able to deliver innovative strategies to engage the campus community. The plethora of ideas resulted in a number of new strategies now being employed in the canteens. The innovative teaching model helped students connect theories to real-life cases and enabled them to make real-world impacts.
Recycling Bin and Cuteness Marketing Study – Who doesn't love cute animals? Researchers suggest that "cute" images produce positive feelings, but what is their influence on behavior? In the spring semester, Professor Anirban Mukhopadhyay of the Marketing department, along with PhD graduate student Tingting Wang, decided to test whether appropriately-designed visually appealing images and messages on recycling bins would have an incremental effect on recycling behaviors. To start, new recycling bins were installed with images of cute animals, and all the bags in the recycling bins were marked with unique codes so they could be weighed and recorded. The images certainly made an impression, but were they effective? The results were quite clear – the images with active images did better than their passive counterparts. Additionally they found that even without instructions, guidelines, or other recycling directions, the cute bins worked well. The results were illuminating and led directly to the redesign of new recycling outreach campaigns.
Revitalizing Green Spaces – Our spectacular sea view at HKUST does not just provide a beautiful panorama; research suggests that our physical surroundings also influence the way we think, work and act towards others. Professor Melody Leung embraced this as a challenge to her Plant Biology Laboratory students and invited them to propose a redesign of the lawn area outside the Lee Shau Kee Business Building. Students were encouraged to think of plants not just for their beauty, but for the wide range of "services" they offer as well (e.g., clean air, fragrance, pest control). By the end of the course, students delivered a proposal that included three types of plants that would provide both beauty and functionality. With one set of plants to repel insects, another to provide wonderful scents, and a third to provide shade, the final proposal was a significant upgrade over the current groundcover. The proposal was handed over to HKUST's horticulture team, who are now reviewing for consideration. The project demonstrates the endless opportunities to take an already pristine campus and make it even more enriching and functional.