Think of Lan Kwai Fong, and what comes to mind? Crowded bars, pulsating activity and a place where you could catch up with friends on a Friday night!
But what if you could have an enlightening evening there, listening to scholars and intellectuals hold forth on various issues while you sip your ice-cold beer?
Well, this is exactly what Raising the Bar, an organization that aims to make education a part of a city’s popular culture, intends to facilitate for the city’s pub-crawlers.
The NGO will invite academics to step out of their ivory towers and give talks on various topics in bars and pubs. The subjects for discussion range from international politics to gender equality.
The initiative in Hong Kong is being spearheaded by a twenty-something girl named Eppie Lau.
“Our goal is to raise the bar on the content people consume in their everyday lives,” she says.
The first of the series of events will take place in Lan Kwai Fong tonight, with experts giving 10 lectures in 10 different bars.
Among the events will be a talk by Chan Sze Chi, a senior lecturer at the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University, who will speak on “East meets West: A double-edged sword?” at Boom Art Bar and Gallery.
“Besides students and graduates, I believe many young professionals will be interested in joining such an event,” Chan told Metropolis Daily.
The lectures will cost little more than the price of a drink. Scholars will join patrons afterwards for a tipple in bars such as Orange Peel and Kee Club to carry on the debate.
Lau indicated that the initiative is a not-for-profit activity. An entry fee will just cover the administrative cost.
She hopes that more people from various backgrounds will join their future events.
Raising the Bar is a worldwide initiative founded by a group of students from Columbia and New York Universities last year.
In addition to Hong Kong and New York, the group arranges similar events in San Francisco and Sydney.
Although founded by University students, the events organized by Raising the Bar are slicker than the average student-run affair.
The events have successfully attracted corporate and media sponsors, with the list including Time Inc and Uber.
Several professors said they were impressed by the students’ entrepreneurial energy and logistics skills.
For example, talks are purposely scheduled on a Tuesday night, to drum up business for the bars on a weekday.
It also organizes some free talks by prominent scholars to help raise the group’s profile.
Last April, Raising the Bar invited renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz to give a talk on “The Price of Inequality” at a New York bar.
The event was packed with students, graduates and bar-goers throughout the night.
Now, Hongkongers can look forward to similar excitement and intellectual stimulation.
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