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【Cubic Zine Issue 8】Scholar-Social Innovator: Prof Donna Chu & Media Education|Nobel Laureate & Her Poverty-Relief Experiment

Where ideas root and flourish

In the post-truth era, when it comes to online info, most are accustomed to sharing before fact-checking. While it doesn’t hurt for some to circulate, others are as deadly as a virus.

Our scholar-social innovator in this issue has set up Mars Media long before the term “fake news” made the headlines. Prof Donna Chu believes that students should recognise the true colours of the media. In face of an ongoing epidemic of misinformation, it would seem that we all have such a need.

In this issue: #NobelPrizeInEconomics #PovertyReliefExperiment #BigIssue #RollingBooks #MediaEducation #FakeNews

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Scholar-Social Innovator → LOCAL

Is fake news altogether fake? Prof Donna Chu’s pitch for universal media education

The Mars Media crew, Prof Donna Chu (centre) and her former students, Dorothy Wong (left) and Jeffrey Loa (right) (Photo: SoCUBE)

“There’s a certain degree of authenticity in fake news, that’s how it’s made convincing. I was this close to falling for one the other day.” We met up with Prof Donna Chu at the Humanities Building to learn about her “on-campus” entrepreneurial experience, new initiative Mars Slowly, the talk of the town – misinformation, and of course, a few of her personal stories.

An incumbent Associate Professor of CUHK’s School of Journalism and Communication, Donna is well versed in new media and popular culture research (thus the latest craze among youngsters). To the “lost generation” of adolescents, she sends words of encouragement – you can hardly plan your life; still, there are certain things you may do…

Read the full interview

Mars Media at a glimpse

(Figure: Mars Media)

Founding year: 2017
Founder: Prof Donna Chu
Members: Alumni of CUHK School of Journalism and Communication, seasoned media professionals
Mission: With Hong Kong as a starting point, to promote Media and Information Literacy (MIL) through innovative education programmes, activities and products, wielding professional experience in media, creativity and fun to weather the ever-changing IT and media environment
Services: MIL education programmes, events, talks, workshops and consultancy
Product: Multimedia production
Contact | FB | Website

Media Education|Scholarly keyword

(Figure: Mars Media)

Countering misinformation is a topical issue worldwide. While some countries (such as Singapore and France) reinforced relevant legislation, Donna objected to “substantial” regulations and instead, advocates capacity building in combatting misinformation. Besides public education, she suggests introducing components into our primary and secondary school curriculum – not necessarily as an individual subject; workshops and group activities would be helpful additions.

The Guardian described how Finland, jeopardised by fake news from Russia in 2014, started a series of measures to raise public awareness, including the injection of cross-disciplinary elements on information literacy into schools. The country topped the Media Literacy Index last year.



Big Issue|The UK & Taiwan

(All rights belong to The Big Issue Taiwan)

Founded in 1991 in the UK, news and cultural magazine Big Issue is a veteran case in the field of social enterprises. Be it content or design, this publication rivals top-tier magazines. You can’t find it in convenience stores or newspaper stalls though – it is only sold via a group of trained homeless or grassroots individuals, to which half of the profit goes.

Up till 2016, over 200 million copies are said to have been sold, amounting to £115 million worth of income for over 90,000 “vendors”. The magazine was later licensed to several countries and regions, including Korea and Japan. The Taiwan edition was introduced in 2010. The covers may as well pass as CDs’; the publication is loved and made a collectable among the artistic community.

Rolling Books|Hong Kong

(Photo: Rolling Books)

It sounds a challenge for Hongkongers to purchase books other than textbooks. Before selling more of them, nurturing a reading ambience should probably come first. Social enterprise Rolling Books founder James Chong would agree.

James used to own a bookstore; now he runs mobile book carts and themed events to promote fun reading experiences for kids on campuses and in the community. The CEO is pursuing a master’s in anthropology at CUHK. While the activities he organises brim with childlike innocence, he addresses key matters surrounding the humankind.


Scholar-Social Innovator → GLOBAL

(Photo: Screenshot from The Nobel Prize YouTube)

The youngest Nobel Laureate in Economics: Esther Duflo’s experimental approach to poverty alleviation

Amongst the three Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences last year, French American economist Esther Duflo easily arrests attention. At the age of 46, she is made the youngest and second female recipient of the prestigious Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, imparting extra significance to the remarkable feat.

Duflo and her husband Abhijit Banerjee (both of them professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) founded the transnational Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in as early as 2003, propelling changes from evidence to policy (E2P).

Born in Paris, majored in history and planned to become a civil servant – what got Duflo into this sphere of expertise? What’s her unique take on poverty alleviation?

Read the full story



DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant 2020 is calling for applications!

DBS Foundation is offering up to SGD250,000 (about HK$1.3 million) to social enterprises who have a product market fit, demonstrated traction in sales and revenue, clear social impact and are ready to scale up. Companies registered in Hong Kong, mainland China, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan are all eligible!

Application deadline: 15 May
Apply now
Learn more


CUHK's support to scholar-social innovators

CUHK runs two funding schemes that support researchers to get down to social innovation – KPF and S-KPF. Selected projects may receive up to HK$400,000 for KPF projects or HK$600,000 for S-KPF companies. Over 200 teams have already benefited from the schemes, working on physical and mental well-being, social cohesion, cultural and heritage conservation, and so on.

Can’t wait to seize your chance? Prepare for the next round by learning the details here. Or share with us your ideas to get ready in advance!


Enjoyed reading?

(Photo: Unsplash)

Recommend Cubic Zine to your friends and partners – let us all do good and do well!

Learning never stops! Story recommendations from SoCUBE:
Guatemalan professor’s chart-topping app Duolingo
Prof Gladys Tang’s sign bilingual academy
Prof Kelvin Tsoi and his health management business
David Kelley uses design to help unlock creative confidence in everyone


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