The National University of Singapore, Purdue University, and Team Rubicon officially launched a new joint programme for communication students on Dec. 4. The programme, titled “Communicators Without Borders”, seeks to give NUS and Purdue students the opportunity to work with NGOs such as Team Rubicon on humanitarian and social change efforts around the world.
“[We want to] bring students into situations where they, in fact, have an opportunity to really grow, and to be challenged, and to make a difference.” Prof. Howard Sypher said in his speech at the launch event held in the CNM Playroom. Prof. Sypher is the head of the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University, Indiana, US.
Prof. Sypher also noted how Singapore’s global interconnectedness made the nation-state the perfect location to commence “Communicators Without Borders.”
Prof. Mohan Dutta, Head of the Communications and New Media department at NUS, highlighted the centrality of communication in the programme. “If there is one theme that I think connects these organisations together, that is the vision for understanding the role of communication in how it has an impact on society,” Prof. Dutta said. “I believe that’s a strong thread that flows through what we do here at CNM.”
Team Rubicon is an early NGO partner of “Communicators Without Borders.” The three-year-old American humanitarian organization is made up of military veterans who provide emergency aid in crises and disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy which recently devastated the US east coast.
“A lot of us have extensive experience, sadly, in war, but it teaches you a lot,” Team Rubicon Regional Director Ford Sypher said. “We’re taking that experience, and we’re taking these hands that were trained for war, and we’re re-tooling them to deliver aid, both domestically and internationally.”
To launch “Communicators Without Borders,” Prof. Sypher, Ford Sypher and Dr. Tracy Loh, representing the communication management team at CNM, put together a large three-piece jigsaw puzzle. Each piece represented the three major partners of the programme.
While the launch of “Communicators Without Borders” is a significant step, there is still much to do before students can be sent to work with NGOs. “Collaboration is always hard,” Prof. Sypher said. “There are misunderstandings, there are difficulties. But if it was easy, there wouldn’t be the rewards that come along with it.”