In this increasingly complex world, we face many multi-faceted issues – environmental problems, digitalisation, human migration, to name a few. Tackling them requires intersecting forms of knowledge. The study of Humanics, or Humanities in the modern language, integrates a spectrum of disciplines ranging from philosophy, languages, history, arts, to literature. It can offer us important insights into current and future conditions, insights that are ever more needed in challenging times.
Professor John Nguyet Erni is a Chair Professor and Head of Department of Humanities & Creative Writing of HKBU. He pursued his studies in the U.S. and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Whitworth University, Master of Arts degree in Film Studies from University of Oregon, and Doctorate degree specialising in Media & Cultural Studies from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Despite his tight teaching and research schedules, Professor Erni subsequently went to the law school of The University of Hong Kong to study international human rights law, earning a Master of Laws degree, with the aim of mastering the language of law so as to conduct research on social justice issues arising from intersecting legal, social, and political contexts.
Professor Erni’s diverse research interests are inspired by his close observations of his surroundings. He has published in the areas of international and Asia-based media and cultural studies, human rights philosophy and politics, gender studies, youth popular culture studies, and critical public health studies. His work has been highly praised by academics. In the past decade, one of his primary studies falls on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, due in part to his multicultural upbringing – Professor Erni is a mixed Filipino-Vietnamese-Chinese having lived in Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong and the U.S. In recent years, Professor Erni has also received a number of grants to study on issues related to human rights and cultural aspects. He is now leading several interdisciplinary cultural studies research projects in collaboration with renowned overseas institutes or universities. Professor Erni brings to his research a unique fusion of Western theories in cultural studies and local cultural experience in the Chinese context.
Rather than observing passively, Professor Erni has shown active community involvement. He has been a member of a number of civil society groups and given staunch support to many NGOs. He provides consultation to the media and speaks for the minorities. At present, he is also building an international platform to line up professionals in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong to jointly work on international migrants’ rights issues.
Professor Erni is currently the President of Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities. He was a recipient of the Gustafson, Rockefeller and Annenberg Fellowships in 1997, 1999 and 2008 respectively. In 2006, he won the Top Paper Award for his paper “War, Incendiary Media, and International Human Rights Law,” at the 56th Annual Convention of the International Communication Association, Germany.
“Amid a growing trend of globalisation, future leaders should be aware of how our world and history are made, and be committed to shaping our future from a global perspective. We wish that as the Endowed Professor in Humanics, Professor Erni can help broaden young people’s minds and vision, thereby nurturing the next generation of outstanding all-round leaders for our community.”
Interview with Professor John Nguyet Erni