Thinking about working in Asia? Give Hong Kong a look. With eight public well-funded universities; a number of privates; schools with links to Australian, US, and UK institutions; and a growing community college sector, there are many options for teaching and research in the city. The salaries are quite good; colleagues are talented and internationally networked; and students, for the most part, are very motivated and hard-working. Most importantly, though, the city values education to an extraordinary degree, beginning with the language and music classes for toddlers all the way up to those working on PhDs. There are, of course, some problems that such fervor creates—there is at times too much stress on an exam culture and kids do need to have chances to play just to play, but, nonetheless, it is a pleasure to see the overall value placed on learning.
Hong Kong provides a wonderfully intense urban experience in which I am always finding myself in a combination of familiar and unfamiliar spaces. I very much like this sense of being on the edge of unfamiliarity, though, since it keeps me on my toes and gives me the chance to keep learning at a rapid clip in order to become better oriented to the rhythms of the city, with its dense street-life and transportation systems, its green parks and hiking trails, and everything close to the sea with its murmurs, its waves, and its commerce of boats large and small, luxurious and simple. And the “outlying islands”—which are not very “outlying”—are delightful.
Professionally, there is a widespread spirit of pedagogical innovation at work in the universities, indicated most succinctly by the broad institutional changes brought about by the city’s decision for all the universities to move from a 3 to a 4 year degree in 2012, with all of the consequent implications created by that move. Everyone I know is working with diligence and imagination to improve student learning and to create a host of scholarly, artistic, and teaching networks. So if you’re curious, enjoy urban life, and want to make a contribution to students and colleagues, keep an eye on the job ads for Hong Kong.