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CNM participation at FASS Open House 2014

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By Zai Muhd, Year 3, NM Major

Open House 1

CNM Society members, staff and faculty spent the Saturday of May 17, 2014 on their feet fielding questions from streams of prospective NM students and their parents at the FASS (Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences) Open House.

The department’s booth at The Shaw Foundation Building on campus was teeming with CNMers and visitors who had come to find out more about CNM’s multidisciplinary curriculum, pedagogy and culture. The most popular questions posed were, “How is CNM different from other communication schools in Singapore?”, and “What are the career paths a CNM graduate can take?”. The visitors got their answer when the CNM hosts explained the department’s broad and flexible curriculum and the myriad of professions and industry sectors our graduates are now in. They had also liked that CNM offers internship opportunities and that we rank among the world’s top 10 communication and media studies departments.

Open House 2014- 2

Pameline, 18, who will be matriculating in the coming new semester, said that she’s been waiting for the FASS Open House to find out more about what the NUS Communications and New Media degree can offer her.

“Right now, I’m really keen on the publications and design modules. I  may even want to try the advertising strategies module,” said Pameline.

We wish to assure Pameline that, come August, she and her fellow freshmen will be spoilt for choice!

Written by Mary Lee

May 19, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Posted in News

Youth to trek Himalayan range for a cause

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By Chandini Manoharan, Year 1, Electrical Engineering

Ashik (left) and Ashok after an intense training session for their upcoming expedition.

Ashik (left) and Ashok after an intense training session for their upcoming expedition.

These days, it is not often that one hears of youth risking their lives for a good cause. But by attempting one of the world’s toughest treks, and during the monsoon season, in order to raise funds for the Society for the Physically Disabled, Ashik Ashokan, a Communications and New Media student in NUS and his friend Ashok Kumar, an undergraduate from the Singapore Institute of Management, are going to do just that.

The 23 year-olds aspire to complete the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, which includes an arduous trek of 220km around a Himalayan mountain range and a summit point with an incredible altitude of 17, 769 feet – all without the assistance of a climbing guide. The climb is made all the more challenging by having to carry a 15kg load on their backs for 21 days and having to brave hostile weather conditions and reduced oxygen levels at high altitude.

However, to Ashik and Ashok, the challenges that they face are only paralleled by the challenges of the physically disabled face, day in, day out. For their endeavour, they hope to raise S$50, 000 for the SPD.

“We have built a campaign, Heart2Climb to raise awareness about the challenges our physically disabled friends face everyday, and to inspire other youth to step out of their comfort zones and give back to society,” said Ashok.

Ashik added: “While many people hold a desire to make a positive difference in the world, only few have the courage to accomplish it. We believe, however, that if one puts all of one’s heart into a good cause, one will have the strength to make it through”.

Written by Mary Lee

May 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Posted in News

Meaningful Media at Media Rise, Singapore

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By Jacqui Hocking, Creative Director @LateNiteFilms & @GoneAdventurin in @HUBsg

Earlier this month, I received a phone call from a passionate women, Srivi Ramasubramanian. Srivi is the Executive Director of Media Rise, an incredible organisation that began in Washington DC.


Her goal was to connect into the creative community in Singapore to start some important conversations around the Media’s role is social and environmental impact:


2013 Media Rise Festival

I was asked to speak at their first event in Asia, as part of their #EarlyRise movement to discuss my perspective on creating meaningful media to accelerate social change. I would be speaking alongside two other people in the space; social entrepreneur Grace Clapham and social justice documentarian Julio Etchart.

From left to right: Grace, Julio and myself

The idea of #EarlyRiseSG was to help connect people already inspired to make an impact and ignite collaboration and conversation.

The three main objectives are:

  1. CELEBRATING success stories of how content creators, storytellers, designers and educators use media for social good;
  2. EMPOWERING media to integrate human values, such as compassion, connectedness and respect for all; and,
  3. ENCOURAGING partnerships among media professionals and change-makers to accelerate social transformation at the individual and community level.

What did I get out of the event?

Singapore is an amazing place, which is full of events for creatives and social innovators. As someone that works out of Hub SG, I’m constantly surrounded by inspiring organisations that focus on purpose before profit. There are even some organisations like Our Better World that focus on media and storytelling. What made #EarlyRiseSG so special, was that it was an inclusive event which invited not just creatives, not just corporates or academics, but everyone from across all backgrounds.

                             Live networking session at Early Rise Singapore


I spoke with corporates from within big multi-nationals such as P&G, producers from TV networks, and academics studying media / online behaviour and psychology. It was a real mixed crowd.

Grace Clapham’s presentation talked through her organisation “The Change School” / “Change” which helps individuals realise their ideas and passions.

I connected with this presentation on an individual and consumer level.


Julio Etchart spoke with vast experience about his work in social justice and the environment. He has lived with tribes battling against the corporate powers and spoke with passion about the hope of sustainable eco-tourism in pristine wilderness. Julio has pioneered the practice of photovoice with NGOs and has facilitated workshops in participatory image-making with grassroots communities in many countries in the majority world.

I connected with this presentation from a community level.


So  — with the consumer and community represented, I decided to shift the focus of my presentation to a key missing element — and one I feel most passionate about in recent years. The role of business for good and the potential for collaboration with multinationals and for-profit organisations. So, I presented from a corporate angle.

CSR is a common theme in big companies — but what we’ve developed here in Singapore is a new idea:

Corporate Social Possibility. The possibility, (which has been noticed by CEO of Unilever, Paul Poleman) of corporations DOING WELL by DOING GOOD.

Possibility. That is the key. Potential for communities, consumers and big multi-national companies to work together for a common goal.

                                                 A slide on how our enterprise works from the ground up


It’s something which cannot be achieved individually, without the authentic connection and collaborations between each party. We also need to utilise and combine a number of different areas: Non-Profit, CSR and Marketing.

That’s how our enterprise, Gone Adventurin, was founded.

Next Steps?

This is only the beginning. I’m super excited to be connected into the MediaRise community and to continue building a strong network of collaborators in Asia. I’ve been told there will be a follow up of the first #EarlyRiseSG event soon — and I hope to see more people across all the different areas and connect online with more people from across the world — to see how we can all contribute to make the world a better place to benefit all.



This blog entry has been reproduced from

Written by Mary Lee

May 1, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Posted in News

In conversation with Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian, Visiting Associate Professor

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By Keefe Chin, Year 4, CNM

In this post, CNM Honours Year student, Keefe Chin speaks to Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian, (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University) a visiting professor from Texas A&M University who is on a sabbatical with the CNM Department this semester. Read on to find out more about the woman who studied communication at a men’s university in India; who goes on to contributing to a global discourse on using communication for social good; and who now also has some advice for CNM undergraduates.

What got you started in communication as a field of study?

Srivi I grew up in Chennai in South India for the most part of my life and I had no idea about communication as a field. It was      very new and I had originally done science, maths, physics, chemistry and biology. One day, a neighbour said she wanted to take an aptitude test for communication. But the course was offered only in a men’s college and she was hesitant to go there by herself, and asked that I accompanied her. As it turned out, she didn’t get in but I got in. My father said, “Instead of being one of the thousands of engineers or doctors why don’t you go into communication? You obviously have an aptitude for it, which is why they picked you.” There were only 40 people in the class and my father thought that made the course special,  believing that it would allow me to combine my artistic talents with my scientific training. I agreed with him and so, in spite of objections from my teachers, I signed up!

My teachers advised against enrolling for a communication course, because in India, the bright ones always go for the sciences. The social sciences are not seen as something that is scholarly and done by the brighter kids in school. However, I found that the human sciences to be such an important part of learning, I am so glad I chose to be part of it. I was not only one of the very few people to have done communication in India in the nineties, I was also one of the few women to be studying it in a men’s college. The experience shaped my research interests later on in gender and race.

What are your current interests and direction?

My work comes broadly under media psychology. I am interested in media representations, especially of race, gender, ethnicity and nationality and how the media shape our attitudes, beliefs, feelings and opinions about ourselves and others. So, I am very interested in things like inter-group communication, intercultural communication and the role of media.

What’s the best part about being a professor?

Actually many people don’t understand what professors do and I spend a lot of time trying to explain this to a lot of my non-academic friends and family because their assumption is that you are off for three months and you don’t do anything in the summer and you just have to go to the classroom and back and your life is all about grading and teaching. But teaching is such a small part of what we do, especially in research universities like NUS or at Texas A&M. The focus in research universities is on developing innovative ideas, creativity and new ways, new lenses through which we can look at existing issues. Much of our work also entails making visible the invisible. Many communication scholars, especially critical media scholars, give voice to the voiceless and help make the invisible visible.

Because my work is a lot about media literacy, I’m very interested in sharing my work with the broader audience. Beyond the context of the classroom, I reach out to communities, parents, youth and even creative media professionals and engage them on raising social consciousness, on incorporating positive human values in the media and on using media for telling stories with wisdom and compassion.

I have had so much advice and support from so many people over the years, that I wish to pay it forward. I enjoy mentoring very much and love working with graduate students, undergraduate researchers or research teams. For instance, one of the most heartening experiences for me is to witness the changes happening right before me in a critical media literacy project.

Do you have any examples of past projects that have fulfilled these types of objectives?

I started something called ‘Media RISE’ ( which is a global alliance for creative professionals, educators, activists, social innovators, concerned citizens and parents who are committed to using media for social good. It is a very broad collaboration, comprising media art, storytelling and design for social good. We laid the groundwork for the past year and a half or two, and raised a platform for these people to network and to think of ways to work together for the kind of mediated world we want for the future. Media RISE allows academics like me to share our scholarship with practitioners. This platform also fosters conversations when it allows people like parents to interact with people like me as an educator. I can share my research insights with them and they can share their everyday experiences with me and that becomes very helpful in both ways, I hope.

Do you see any differences between the students that you usually teach back in the US and those in the class you are teaching now?

Yes, there are differences. The US it is a very big country so there are differences depending on the type of university that you are talking about. Texas A&M is a very large and public university like NUS so in that way it is similar in terms of wanting to serve the public and the state. I teach global media at NUS, and I don’t know if it is because it is an honours class, I find that the writing is very good here, and the ideas well articulated.

One of the things that I was hesitant about initially, was if Singaporean students would be willing to open up in class, to engage in discussions because sometimes they are a little bit reluctant to speak against what the professor is saying, or not against but to have a discussion on issues that they might not agree. So there is a little bit of a difference there but I think for honours students ,it is not that bad because once you set the stage from day one, when you make it open, they are more willing to air their views. It’s also much more formal here. In US classes, you will see students putting their feet up on the tables, drinking coke and eating hamburgers in class but you don’t see that here. Another thing which pleasantly surprised me was that the students, at least in the honours class, have studied abroad so they have a different world perspective. Since the class I am teaching is about global media, when we talked about nation and cross cultural communication, they were able to bring those experiences to the classroom, which was very valuable. I don’t usually have students like that. In Texas, there are very few who have even gone out of Texas.

Could you tell us more about your sabbatical so far and how you ended up in NUS?

That’s actually a very interesting story. The story begins a few years ago when A/P Lim Sun Sun, who was Deputy Head of CNM, came to Texas A&M University for a conference and there, she and I became friends. We kept in touch over the years and met up at conferences and things like that. So when it was time to apply for my sabbatical, I applied to come to NUS for six months.

Even my husband, who is also an academic in Industrial Engineering, is here on a sabbatical. We had to coordinate our schedules. So in London, he was in Imperial College while I was at the London School of Economics and now while I am in NUS he is at SUTD. We have a seven year old boy so we have to coordinate his schooling as well and he has been telling everybody that he is on a sabbatical as well!

Over the course of my sabbatical I have grown so much because I have to present my work to a different audience and in doing that I find that I have to reframe my research which has been a huge learning experience. When I share my work with different scholars, they give me feedback, ask me questions all of which has been very valuable. Opportunities for collaboration or even inter-institutional dialogue or programmes might even come up between Texas A&M and NUS in the long run because of my presence here. Now that I have been here, I know how things work here and I can see that there are so many ways which both institutions can benefit from each other.

Overall, there have been a lot of challenges, especially when you have to coordinate a sabbatical with family, but I think it is completely worth it and if anyone were to ask me if I would do it again, I would say, yes, definitely!

What have you enjoyed the most about Singapore so far?

It has got to be the food! The Peranakan food that I tried was very special and unique because I had never known about this culture before so it was very different and I liked that. Being here during Chinese New Year was also a very special experience for us because it felt so festive with so many celebrations everywhere. There was dance, music and art everywhere so it was very special to be here. There are also many other things about Singapore that I don’t know where to start! Everything is so well organised and clean and ecologically conscious. There are way too many activities to do, etc. I think even if I spend many years here, I wouldn’t be able to cover everything. Also, the CNM department being so warm and welcoming has certainly been a big, big thing that I have enjoyed so far.

What advice do you have for CNM students?

What I would say is that communication is a right. Communication is also a privilege so when we have the voice to share stories, because I see all of us as storytellers, we have the responsibility of saying the stories with some wisdom and thought put into it. So what I mean is that if you are going into advertising, public relations or corporate communications, because these are usually the fields which most of the students will be going into, I think we have to think about what are the standards which we want to set in the industry and how can we also be the critical thinkers within these industries and ask the questions that others might not ask. I think in all of these organisations we need people to say, “Hey wait, that seems too much” or “This is unethical” or “This is not right”. I hope our students will be the ones who will have the guts and the sense to ask those questions in those difficult situations when everyone is just focused on profits.

Students should consider alternative career options. You could spend some of your time, maybe half a day a week to use your talent and skills for those who might not have the kinds of resources that big media and organisations might have. For example, you could help the marginalised groups, or non-profits, for example, to project their voices.

When I think back on my own student days, I wish somebody had given me this advice.

Written by Mary Lee

May 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Posted in News

Visit to Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

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By Pauline Luk, PhD Student, CNM

Visiting Professor Gary Kreps visited the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine on 28 January. Professor Kreps shared his views on traditional Chinese medicine with Professor Xiang Ping, the Principal of the College. The meeting included a visit to the college’s herbal drug dispensary and library.

Founded in 1953, the SCTCM is the biggest TCM institute in Southeast Asia with a current enrolment of 900 students taking on accredited TCM programmes at bachelor, masters and doctoral levels.

CNM faculty Assistant Profs Iccha Basnyat and Leanne Chang had accompanied Prof Kreps with a view to exploring possible collaborations with the college in the future.

This was CNM’s second visit. CNM was at the college with its visiting professors, Barbara Sharf and Jeffery Peterson last October.

The visit included a tour of the college’s pharmacy

The visit included a tour of the college’s pharmacy

CNM faculty visited the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine to explore possible collaborations

CNM faculty visited Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine to explore possible collaborations

Written by Mary Lee

April 8, 2014 at 10:03 am

Posted in News

CNM grad students meet Nanjing University deans

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By Pauline Luk, PhD Student, CNM

Professor Duan Jingsu and Professor Wang Ping, respectively Dean and Vice-Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Nanjing University visited CNM on 26 March. They had come to get acquainted with CNM graduate students as potential teaching and research candidates for their faculty. CNM’s Head of Department, Professor Mohan Dutta and Assistant Professor Zhang Weiyu hosted the visitors as both parties discussed China’s growing demand for communication scholars, and the college’s efforts at cultivating ties with communication schools internationally.

From left to right: Prof Duan Jingsu, Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University; Prof Mohan Dutta, Head, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore and Prof Wang Ping, Vice Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University

From left to right: Prof Duan Jingsu, Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University; Prof Mohan Dutta, Head, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore and Prof Wang Ping, Vice Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University


Written by Mary Lee

April 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

Posted in News

Conversation with A/P Maite: On interactive fiction, Singapore undergraduates and the Camino de Santiago

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By Oh Han Siang, Year 2, CNM

Associate Professor Maria T. Soto-Sanfiel gave a talk on the impact of interactive audio-visual narratives on audiences’ psychological responses, at CNM on 2 April 2014.

Speaking in a charming Spanish accent, AP Maite revealed in her study of Spanish students interacting with the 1998 BAFTA Film Award nominee – “Run Lola Run”, that providing viewers with a choice in deciding the progression of the movie plot, results in greater identification with the characters.

While viewers experienced a higher intensity of emotions such as guilt if they felt that their choices resulted in a sad ending, the study nonetheless shows that the narrative plot remains more influential on audiences than the affordance of interactivity.

At the end of her two-hour talk, A/P Maite graciously granted this writer time for a short interview

How did your interest in the field of interactive fiction first developed?

Maite: It was in the year 1991 when I was doing my PhD. My supervisor then in Canada was working on a smart system in a cable provider, whereby many different cable channels were showing the same programme but each channel was slightly different. Audiences had a sense of perceived interaction with the channels. That was the very first interactive system in the world and it greatly attracted my attention.

You are currently doing a cross-cultural study on the differences between Singaporean and Spanish students’ responses to interactive fiction and you seem to focus quite a lot on cultural orientations. Could you highlight cultural differences you noticed between Singaporean students and their Spanish counterparts?

Maite: Well, this is my personal view. Singaporean students are very respectful; more respectful than students in Spain! You all are very well-educated from a civic point of view; you respect laws and rules. In the train, for example, you do not disturb other passengers. And Singaporean students are devoted to their studies – Spanish students do not study as much as Singaporean students. Spanish students are more extroverted.

Are there any negative points about Singaporean students?

Maite: Well, Singaporean students are very concerned about earning money. Spanish students are not that really concerned with money. I mean money is nice to have but Spanish people are more concerned with living a good life. So Spanish students go to school not so much for future income but to really learn and be more cultured.

Any recommendations for places to visit in Barcelona or outside it, in Spain?

Maite: Barcelona is a small city but it has everything – the beach, mountains, musicals in Broadway, beautiful ancient buildings, so I would really recommend you to just walk, walk through the city and get lost in it. Outside of Barcelona, in Spain, there are lots to see as well. The north of Spain is beautiful and the southern parts too. Spain is really beautiful. The Spanish King once called Spain, the place where the Sun never sets because Spain is so big that no matter where you are, there will be a place where it is still daylight. Spanish food has so much variety and is all so delicious. The food in the south of Spain in particular, has Arabic influences because in the past there were Arabs in Spain so we Spaniards actually have some Arabic blood flowing through our veins! There’s  a place in Spain, which I think everyone should be visited. The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage trail leading travellers from France all the way to Santiago in Spain. You should definitely consider backpacking through the Camino de Santiago. I recommend one month or 21 days. The path of the Camino de Santiago actually follows the stars and is steeped in Catholic tradition. You get to meet everyone from everywhere backpacking through the trail and it is quite cheap as well. You stay in the hostels along the trail and they charge minimal fees for the one-night stay. I backpacked through the Camino de Santiago  with little else besides the shirt on my back. But really, the whole of Spain is wonderful.

Associate Professor Maria T. Soto-Sanfiel is from the Audio-visual Communication and Advertising Department at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in Barcelona, Spain. She is on a visit to Singapore till early June.

Written by Mary Lee

April 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Posted in News

CNM at NUS Open Day

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By Samuel Cho, Corrine Goh and Chia Pui San, Year 2, CNM Society

It was a busy yet energizing Saturday for CNM Society and their professors as they fielded a flood of questions from prospective freshmen at the NUS Open Day 2014 on 15 March.The hottest question of the day was “Could you tell me more about the courses at Communications & New Media?”.  The visitors were pleased with what they heard. They thought the CNM interdisciplinary offerings offered a variety of modules which were both theoretically and practice-oriented.

One  parent commented that the wide range of modules meant that students would have the invidious challenge of having to decide within a span of three to four years, which mods to take, given that they were equally attractive.

Finally, the visitors also expressed appreciation of the chance to directly interact with CNM seniors and faculty and have their questions addressed and answered in detail.

Written by Mary Lee

March 21, 2014 at 9:18 am

Posted in News

CARE’s Heart to Heart programme helps women become healthier

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By Sarah Comer and Daniel Teo, Research Assistants, Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation

CNM’s research lab, Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) launched a women’s heart health improvement programme called “Heart to Heart” at National University Hospital on 18 March 2014. The programme involves a group of seven Singaporean women with heart conditions taking part in a heart health instructional session comprising lessons conducted in Mandarin by an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist and a dietician.

“Heart to Heart” was designed by an advisory committee comprising women suffering  from heart conditions. The larger aim of getting the women involved in programme development was to empower and engage Singaporean women to take charge of their own heart health.

“With the launch of the first session, we are reminded of the power of the voices of the women in our study who developed the vision and the call for content for this programme,” said CARE research assistant, Sarah Comer.  The committee worked from the research findings of a study jointly conducted by CARE and the Women’s Hearth Health Clinic of the National University Heart Centre, Singapore.

The study consisted of interviews and focus groups with female heart patients from various ethnicities and income backgrounds to find out about the problems they faced in maintaining their cardiovascular health. “Heart to Heart” participants will attend two group instructional sessions during a four-month period. They will also meet with clinicians individually to set and review lifestyle goals which aim to improve their cardiovascular health. Instructional sessions will be carried out in English, Mandarin and Malay, with assistants on hand to translate the lessons into six other languages and dialects.

According to the Singapore Heart Foundation, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Singaporean women. One out of every three deaths among Singaporean women can be attributed to heart disease. The kinds of heart conditions that women are more prone to differ from that of men due to biological factors such as menopause.

For more background information on the state of women’s heart health in Singapore and the initial study, please refer to this issue of the CARE White Paper.

"Heart to Heart" participants learning breathing techniques from an occupational therapist for stress management. (Photo credit: Julio Etchart)

“Heart to Heart” participants learning breathing
techniques from an occupational therapist for
stress management. (Photo credit: Julio Etchart)

CARE researchers attending to participants of a "Heart to Heart" instructional session. Photo credit: Julio Etchart

CARE researchers attending to participants of a “Heart to Heart” instructional session. (Photo credit: Julio Etchart)

Written by Mary Lee

March 21, 2014 at 9:06 am

Posted in News

Open science and e-science

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4 February 6pm onwards, CNM Meeting Room

Ivan Zimine from talked with science communication enthusiasts on open science and novel ways scientists share data and improve the ethics and goals of science communication. He also presented his cloud solution for open science data. The audience also enjoyed the unique chance of learning more about his project on improving how MRI data are shared and how to support the publishing of data.

Open science has the potential to increase the rate of discoveries and improve the quality of scientific output across all disciplines (“The New Einsteins Will Be Scientists Who Share”, Wall Street Journal, October 2011). Much more than access to academic publications, open science is sharing of scientific knowledge which includes the sharing of experimental protocols, analytic methods and most importantly, sharing of experimental data. Open science sharing happens within legal frameworks inspired by open source and creative common movements.



Written by Mary Lee

March 12, 2014 at 10:50 am

Posted in News