Where Ideas Root and Flourish
Here comes Issue 17 of Cubic Zine! We are excited to see the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship here at CUHK while InnoPort will soon celebrate its first anniversary. The teams inside InnoPort are busy promoting social entrepreneurship as well as tech transfer and the collaboration between the industry, academia and research sectors. Cubic Zine will bring you more diverse topics with stories in a nutshell for you to grasp innovation trends in a single email.
In this issue: #MentalWellbeingForDeafIndividuals #BlinkNPhrase #SignBilingualism
#ClickNPlant #FoodForThought #TheJourneyOfMANY
Scholar-Social Innovator → LOCAL
Escape prompts empathy: Felix Sze advocates mental well-being for the deaf
As a hearing person without deaf friends or relatives, how did Felix start her academic research on the deaf and sign language in the first place?
Felix is Associate Professor of the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, and co-director of the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies. Last year, together with Prof Winnie Mak of the Department of Psychology, she launched the project “Enhancing Mental Health of the Deaf Community in Hong Kong” supported by CUHK Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (KPF).
She shares with us her adventurous journey in learning and studying sign language, and how her unusual upbringing strengthens her mental health.
Felix mentions that deaf and sign language studies are very broad, “I study whatever I find interesting.” Her research interests include euphemisms in sex-related signs in Asian sign languages, incorporation of gestures of hearing people into sign language, whether learning sign language helps the elderly to improve cognition and spatial recognition, etc.
Facial expression, posture and eye contact are essential elements in communication between deaf individuals. “Eye contact is especially important as the breaking of it means disengagement. When they quarrel, they simply face away.”
“They blink to indicate the break of a sentence. I have published interesting findings in related studies. But analysing a large amount of corpus of blinks is a daunting task,” Felix smiles wryly.
Business 2.0 -> FORCE FOR GOOD
SLCO is a social enterprise set up by a team from the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages at CUHK. SLCO provides a variety of services such as sign language class in different levels, interpretation, and has developed the Sign Bilingual Vocabulary Learning Package with AR technology. This learning package enables children to acquire 100 vocabularies in Chinese, English, as well as the vivid and lively sign language.
Linguistics research in recent years shows that learning sign language can improve language and cognitive abilities even for hearing children. SLCO’s playgroup Fun with Sign and Speech is popular among hearing families, while the learning package can be used anytime at home for children and parents.
Deutsche Welle (The Voice of Germany) aired in May 2021 a documentary on three Purpose Driven enterprises, including Ecosia, the search engine dubbed the “green version of Google”. Ecosia was founded by the then 26-year-old Christian Kroll in 2009. Profits of the company are used to plant trees to combat climate change.
According to Business Insider, a new tree is planted with every four searches on Ecosia. Today more than 120 million trees of 750 species have been planted in scrupulously chosen locations in Africa and South America that benefit both nature and local communities. Kroll announced in 2018 that part of his share of the company had been donated to Purpose Foundation, making him impossible to sell Ecosia for profit or withdraw company capital.
Scholar-readers -> FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” so goes the old saying. If thinking is a toolbox, then mental models are different tools. It’s impossible for one to have only one piece of tool to cope with the complexity of the world today. We have to upgrade our mental toolbox to prepare for all circumstances.
97-year-old Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is well known for his exceptional wit and intuition. He’s widely admired for championing the concept of “mental models”. Munger reckons that one can only make sound judgments with 80-90 mental models and grasping their respective key elements. Shane Parrish, the author of The Great Mental Models, has established Farnam Street to share his insights with articles, podcast and workshops. This is a mind-blowing reader that elucidates some important mental models in 2 volumes.
Be → ENGAGING
If you are a CUHK teaching staff or researcher, and wish to materialise your research into an innovation project to promote social advancement, click on this video! Get to know how ORKTS helps you to achieve your goals.
CUHK offers a number of funding schemes to assist teaching staff and students to commercialise their research findings or products into one-off projects or even business companies. Contact us for more!
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