Cultural policies and global cities

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Friday 19:00 – 21:50

Lecture venue

Course description

Cultural policy is becoming a subject of growing interest in the public arena, due to a global spread of cultural emphasis in contemporary, post-industrial societies. Public debates on issues related to the subject are proliferating. To equip students to make sense and participate in those debates, this course introduces a comprehensive survey of key aspects of cultural policy, historical development of how policies evolved, origins of relevant concepts and discourses, and existing justifications of policy formulation and administrative decisions.

Part one of the course explains the different scopes of cultural policy, from the more limited definition of “the arts”, to cultural industries, and the broadest sense addressing citizenship. Each of these scopes has a different set of policy implications, and provokes different political debates.

Part two of the course aims at a comparative understanding of policies in different countries, based on their different histories and socio-political conditions. In part three of the course, we examine current cultural policy issues in Hong Kong, in light of foundational concepts we learned, and participate in dialogues with art administrators, researchers and concerned citizens.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Acquire the capability to comprehend meaningfully current public debates on cultural policy
  2. Relate cultural policies to the general mode of governance of modern states
  3. Engage with arts and culture practitioners in productive dialogues
  4. Construct original and educated arguments on cultural policy
  5. Obtain in-depth knowledge on Hong Kong’s cultural policy


Group/oral/recorded presentation20%
Reflective journal20%
Essay outline (a Moodle Q and A)20%
Individual essay40%

Required reading

Bennett, T. (1995). In The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics. London and New York: Routledge.

Miller, T. & Yúdice, G. (2002). Cultural Policy. London: Sage.

Thorsby, D. (2010). The Economics of Cultural Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Recommended reading

Pick, J. (1988) The Arts in a State. A study of government arts policies from ancient Greece to the present. Bristol, England: Bristol Classical Press.

Chong, T. (2018). The state & the arts in Singapore : Policies and institutions. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Pte.

Course co-ordinator and teachers