CCST9067 Scientific and Technological Literacy
Leaving Earth: Our Future in Space

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

The class will explore the technological challenges, economic realities, and ethical and legal considerations we will face as a space-faring civilization in the future. Who owns property or natural resources in space? Who will be responsible for responsible practices off planet? How will humans survive and thrive in the harsh conditions of outer space? Are we destined for a bionic future? Can we terraform planets to make them habitable? And can we find answers to our origins in the ether beyond Earth? We will address these questions and others in this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate basic functioning science vocabulary through class discussion.
  2. Communicate scientific understanding through coherent writing.
  3. Demonstrate clear understanding of differences between science fact, opinion and speculation.
  4. Read, comprehend and critique news articles related to space science.
  5. Convey an understanding of the basic scientific and technological elements of space-related exploration, and the issues associated with colonization of space.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Seminars 2
Fieldwork / Visits 4
Reading / Self-study 48
Film and video viewing 4
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 20
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 6
Assessment: In-class quizzes 4
Total: 124

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Debates 20
Writing assignments 30
Photo essay 10
Final project 20
In-class quizzes 20

Required Reading

Readings will depend on the current events of the time. Students will be asked to view and respond to TED talks from space entrepreneurs and to listen to topical podcasts from BBC and other organisations. They will read science fiction short stories from Kim Stanley Robinson, as well as excerpts from a book called Altered Carbon (Richard Morgan) and another called Homo Deus (Yuval Noah Harari).


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J.R. Michalski
Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 1452
Email: jmichal@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J.R. Michalski
Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 1452
Email: jmichal@hku.hk
Dr P.M. Saz Parkinson
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
Tel: 3962 1433
Email: pablosp@hku.hk
Dr C.C. Ho
School of Biomedical Sciences, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9501
Email: ccho12@hku.hk