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Out team have used a system perspective to understand how different professions can collaborate and contribute to ‘human flourishing’.


We argue that it is essential for each of us to adopt a ‘reframing’, ‘refocusing’ or ‘rebalancing’ perspective at the micro-meso-exo-macro-levels within the ecosystem so that human flourishing can be realized. At the microlevel, individuals are encouraged to refocus through meditation or arts on the practice of mindfulness. At the mesolevel, families can find strengths within family members to reframe issues and problems in lives in order to become resilient in face of adversity. At the exolevel, the planning process has to refocus on the making more creative and sustainable communities. At the macrolevel, there is an urgent need to have a rebalancing of exchange value and use value in our economics-first society. With collective efforts made at all these levels towards human flourishing, we can begin to envision Hong Kong as a place for people to live with dignity. 


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Source: Shaffler and Kipp, 2010, p.64. 


Human Flourishing: A Strength-based Perspective 

However, as can be seen in the following chapters, we would like to argue that while individuals, families and communities all possess innate capacities to self-transform and flourish, there are always nurturing and damaging factors simultaneously at work at different levels of the ‘ecological system’ (Table 1.1). The question is whether the human agents involved can reframe or rebalance the situations people are in and use different approaches including mindfulness and art forms to chart possible alternative futures that speak more to the dignified needs of human beings. 


Table 1.1: Nurturing and Damaging Factors for Human Flourishing 

Individuals & Environment
Nurturing factors Damaging factors

• Nature: positive, optimistic
• Nurture
o Basic needs satisfied
o Practising mindfulness
o Training our creative muscle through art
o Mindful of a purposeful life

• Nature: negative, pessimistic
• Damage
o Basic needs not satisfied
o Non-stop mind wandering?
o Biased towards technical training and slight on art subject
o No mindful purpose in life

Family • Strength-based
• Supportive and caring
• Resilient
• Finding faults
• Helpless, frustration
• Lose hope
Schools • Accessible education
• Learning as exploration
• Encourage adventures and creativity
• Collaboration to win-win
• Education not available
• Learning as a chore
• Rote learning
• Competitive: winners and losers
Community facilities • Fit the needs of the community
• Brings people together → diversity
• Nurturing engagement such as developing creativity through arts
• Empowering & nurturing a sense of belonging
• Provision standards
• Standardization
• Homogeneity
• Functional purposes and alienating

• Connection of microsystems serve the needs of people in place • Disconnect of the microsystems

 • In a capitalist society, just to serve the making of ‘a few more dollars’
Work environment

• Work as a process to realize our strengths, talents
• Work for a purpose

• Work as a means to earn for a living
• Work for money

Neighbourhood • A place to build a community
• A place to grow and to have mutual support
• A convivial place
• A place to live
• A place to consume
• A functional place
Mass media • To encourage good deeds
• To inspire
• To advocate for a ‘good’ cause
• To sell
• To entice consumption
• To indoctrinate
Government • Democratic government pursuing a just society • Government biased towards the interest of those with political and economic power
Built environment • To meet the daily needs of the people so that they can further develop themselves as human beings (USE VALUES) • To meet the demands of an economic system that feeds on the acceleration of capital accumulation (EXCHANGE VALUES)
• May lead to displacement, exclusion etc.
Social environment • Mindful of oneself and the connectivity of everyone
• Everyone counts!
• Yes we can!
• Lonely individuals
• Helpless individuals
• No hope!

(Culture and subculture such as socio-economic, educational, legal and political systems)

• Sustainability: environmental sustainability, social justice, long-term economic resilience, institutional fairness, etc.
• Vigilant against ‘hegemonic thoughts’

• Economic growth and competitiveness
• Excellence
• Class, rank, ethnic biases are taken as norms

Source: Knowledge Transfer team

Shaffler, D.R., Kipp, K. (2011). Developmental Psychology: Childhood & Adolescence (8th Ed.). Wadsworth.

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