Teacher: Dr. Kenneth Li
Department: Office of University General Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
As a firm believer and advocate of sustainable development, Dr. Kenneth LI, Lecturer of the Office of University General Education, initiated an animation series to raise teenagers’ awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations. This initiative was supported by the Sustainable Development Goals Action Fund.
The SDG Animation project aims to introduce the 17 SDGs and their targets to students through animated short stories contextualized in Hong Kong. Each animation addresses one SDG, such as No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Climate Action, and Decent Work and Sustainable Economic Growth. Led by Dr. Li, the SDG Animation team consisted of CUHK students, teachers, supporting staff, and alumni who are talented at illustration design and animation production. Acknowledging the students’ passions and skills, they were given the opportunity to play the roles of directors, illustrators, and voice actors. The student directors were responsible for animation editing, storyboard design, as well as providing production advice to other team members, including the illustrator and voice actors.
Students relished this valuable opportunity as they could sharpen their video production skills and learn to think from the perspective of the audience. Dr. Li witnessed the students’ growth in building resilience and flexibility in difficult times. For instance, students had to figure out how to put individual efforts together for a team production with their own equipment at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although there was still room for improvement in the sound quality, Dr. Li was impressed by the students as they were completely capable of solving the problem themselves. “We made progress by learning with and from each other,” said Dr. Li.
When asked about the difficulty of running the project, Dr. Li pointed out that it was a challenging task to ensure students’ commitment and progress in the alignment of the tight production schedule and students’ learning schedule. Equally challenging was assuring the quality of the animations. In this regard, if teachers intend to develop similar initiatives, it is crucial to evaluate how much time and effort would be required to drive the production process, which is very complicated and sophisticated. In addition, Dr. Li highlighted the importance of giving recognition to team members. “Students put a lot of effort into the project which must be acknowledged. Everyone’s name should be visible in the animations. This helps them to build up their portfolios,” said Dr. Li. He believed that this practice is a matter of respect and could also enhance the team’s engagement and promote a sense of ownership among students. This year, Dr. Li will continue to work with the students to produce the SDG AnimationSeason 2. English subtitles will also be produced to engage more audiences and promote sustainable development outside Hong Kong.