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【Cubic Zine Issue 3】Scholar-Social Innovators: An Insider’s Chat with Our Expert in AIDS Prevention

One email to feed you the hottest info from the social innovation universe! Cubic Zine is a publication under CUHK ORKTS’s social innovation platform SoCUBE. We are excited to bring you stories on what CUHK and glocal social innovators are working on, events happening around you and much more!

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Scholar-Social Innovator → LOCAL

(Photo: ORKTS)

Next to Prof Johnson Wang’s computer sat a picture of a new-born. “She’s over one, “speaking of his bundle of joy, Johnson was all smiles. The twinkle in his eyes remained as we switched topic to his applied research project on HIV self-testing

Johnson is a Research Assistant Professor from CUHK’s Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, specialising in AIDS prevention and control. “A lot of breakthroughs were made during that period, while potential beneficiaries were left in the dark.” He therefore strives to push these cutting-edge outputs to market.

What did Johnson observe from his years of experience? What shaped his academic career?

Read the full interview

Liangshan at a glimpse

Johnson’s research took him beyond Guangdong province to the mountainous Liangshan Prefecture in Sichuan. The Prefecture has a population of over five million, dominated by the ethnic Yi people. Nestled within a rugged landscape, Liangshan is in close proximity to the notorious drug haven Golden Triangle, thus plagued by a dire AIDS situation. Where “poverty coexists with the virus”, “one in every 10 persons suffers from AIDS”. In her book Passage to Manhood, Taiwanese medical anthropologist Liu Shao-hua recounted her decade-long research and 20-month field study in Liangshan, likening heroin and AIDS to the local male’s “passage to manhood”.

MSM I Scholarly keyword

Johnson’s HIV and HPV projects both target “men who have sex with men” (MSM) – not a very familiar term. “Why not just say ‘gays’?” Johnson explained that “gay” defines a group by its sexual orientation, involving emotional factors; whereas MSM are defined by their behaviour, i.e. males who had sex with the same sex within a certain period of time. “MSM include gays, also bisexuals, or even heterosexuals – men who claim to like women but have had sex with other men – not entirely impossible.”



The UK I Climate news I The Guardian

This October, Guardian Media Group announced its successful certification as a B Corp, meaning its corporate governance, employee engagement, as well as daily operations, bring positive impact to the society and environment. As the world’s first media B Corp, the Guardian believes climate change is an alarming issue to address. It commits to more resources in environmental reporting, on top of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2030. Currently, around 3100 corporations in 71 countries have passed the assessment to be certified as B Corps.

Kenya I Plastic pollution I Ocean Sole Africa

Julie Church, marine biologist from Kenya, is inseparable from the ocean. Too often she witnesses astonishing masses of plastic waste being washed up the shores, especially the locally common plastic flip flops. Inspired by kids who turn this footwear into toys, Julie set up a business, turning these would-be garbage into pieces of artwork. Her company now hires 90 locals (artists included), providing education for 10000 children. Their kaleidoscopic hand-made marine and land animals are hot items in zoos!


Looking for funding to launch your social innovation project?

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. Around 200 teams have already benefited from the schemes.

Applications this year are still open and the deadline has been extended to 18 Dec! Eager to transform your research expertise into impact? Submit a proposal to start your journey!

To find out the difference between the two schemes and the application details, just tap the following links and download the relevant documents!

Applying for KPF
Applying for S-KPF


Scholar-Social Innovator → GLOBAL

Harvard medical anthropologist Paul Farmer (Photo: Partners In Health)

Harvard expert Paul Farmer: An anthropological approach to medical advancement in the third world

Paul Farmer, who owns a Harvard MD and PhD in Anthropology, spent most of his life either at the prestigious institution, or Haiti. During his school days, he volunteered in Haiti, deeply shaken at the sight of extreme poverty.

In 1987, Farmer founded Partners In Health (PIH) with his friends, pioneering a community-based strategy to healthcare in the impoverished regions, bringing a cure to the AIDS-stricken Haitians.

In what way is PIH’s care model innovative? And why is Paul’s heart so tied to this Caribbean country, he can even speak the local language fluently?

Read the full story



Dr KK Tse sharing his list of essential traits for social entrepreneurs at the S-KPF Info Session. (Photo: ORKTS)

Insider's Sharing: 5 Elements of Success for a Scholar-Social innovator

Earlier this month, a small group of CUHKers gathered in Dream Impact for our annual S-KPF Information Session. We were excited to hear from local pioneer in the world of social entrepreneurship – Dr KK Tse, who co-founded Dialogue in the Dark (Hong Kong), Education for Good and Dream Impact.

Energetic despite his age, KK gave a light-hearted sharing on crucial traits and mentalities a social entrepreneur should have. (“Not one less!” he stressed.) He also mentioned several “KK’s picks”, as well as international social entrepreneurs who inspired him to this day. Hope you all learned something new from the session!

KK’s book recommendations:
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein
Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything by Steve Blank

More event photos


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