Dec. 11, 2019

Social Work professors create social innovation hub with China

Dora Tam and Siu Ming Kwok continue their long association with China and Hong Kong through platform for interdisciplinary collaboration
Siu Ming Kwok, left, with Dora Tam and Samantha Hung, at Outreach Work conference.
Siu Ming Kwok, left, with Dora Tam and master's student Samantha Hung, at Outreach Work conference. Courtesy Dora Tam

There’s an old Chinese saying, “We welcome friends from afar.” This was certainly the case for Faculty of Social Work researchers Dr. Dora Tam, PhD, and Dr. Siu Ming Kwok, PhD, over the last few months. They have been warmly welcomed by new and old friends as they work toward the creation of a unique Social Innovation Hub in China.

This hub will be established in a blended structure that includes a physical office space to be housed at the University of Calgary's Faculty of Social Work and a virtual space for collaboration and exchange on research, teaching, and evidence-informed practice among researchers and academics throughout the provinces of Alberta and Guangdong, as well as across the countries of Canada and China.

  • Photo above: Siu Ming Kwok, left, with Dora Tam and master's student Samantha Hung, at Outreach Work conference. Photo courtesy Dora Tam

The overarching goal of this proposed hub is to provide a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration such as partnering with public administration, education, and psychology to address the issues of domestic violence, children and youth mental health, youth delinquency, and aging.

Building collaboration with universities in China

Tam and Kwok have a long collaboration history with universities in Hong Kong and mainland China. They were instrumental in creating two memorandums of understanding (2017) with Sun Yat-Sen University and South China Agricultural University. These agreements cultivate collaboration in research and teaching, as well as academic exchanges.

Over the last few months Tam and Kwok have continued this work, co-organizing the second International Conference on Outreach Work in Hong Kong with the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences with City University of Hong Kong, and 30 other post-secondary institutions and social service organizations in June 2019.

Building upon our existing partnership, Tam and Kwok have made new connections with Xiamen, China. They visited the School of Sociology and Anthropology at Xiamen University a top-tier, research-intensive university in the province of Fujian where they were warmly welcomed by professors Dean Hu Rong, of the School of Sociology and Anthropology, Director Yi Lin, Department of Sociology, and Director Tong Min, Department of Social Work.

Two men and book about Alberta

Hu Rong, Xiamen University, left, with Siu Ming Kwok.

Courtesy Dora Tam

Both parties expressed a keen interest to develop specific collaborative programs between the social work programs in Xiamen and Calgary. Faculty members of the School of Sociology and Anthropology at Xiamen University were also invited to attend SWSD 2020 the International Federation of Social Work Conference, hosted by the University of Calgary this summer from July 15 to 18, 2020.  

In the coming year, Kwok and Tam plan to develop specific student and faculty exchange agreements with all of their friends, old and new, in China. 

Shared by professor Dong Juan, who stayed with the Faculty of Social Work in Calgary for three months in the summer of 2019 as a visiting professor from the Guangdong Institute of Public Administration, the value of the Social Innovation Hub is beyond words: “Although I stayed for only three months, I have been deeply grateful to this beautiful city and campus from the initial inadaptability to the present love. I have gained special learning experience, met many very young and lovely students, and realized an interesting transformation from teachers to students, which is a very valuable asset for my life. This experience is absolutely unforgettable for me.”