fass news

Global Studies Programme Lecture Series


NUSS 60th Anniversary Lecture, Distinguished Speaker PM Lee Hsien Loong

Details of the event is as follows:


3 October 2014, Friday


7.30pm (Registration begins at 6pm)


University Cultural Centre

Dress Code

Shirt & Tie/ National Dress




(Click here to register.)

For queries please contact Miss Gayathri Ayathorai DID 6586 3739 or Miss Valerie Toh DID 65863744, or email nuss_lecture@nuss.org.sg. As seats are available on first-come-first-served basis, please do RSVP early in order not to miss this opportunity.

Please note that students will have to indicate “NUS” in the box labelled “Membership No.”

Thank you and we look forward to your participation.

HR Perspectives Recruitment Deciphered!

Dear FASS Students,

Take a glimpse into the “behind-the-scenes” process of job applications and understand from HR’s perspectives on what makes or breaks an application.

You are invited to join us for the inaugural recruitment discussion forum to meet with 3 of your FASS Seniors who have gone on to take on HR roles in Changi Airport Group (CAG), Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation!

hr perspective

See you there!

<Click here> for the Speaker’s Profile

<Click here> to sign up for the event, registration deadline: 15 Sep, Mon












Celebrating Words

It was a gathering of an all-star cast of Singapore poets and writers under one roof. From Emeritus Professor Edwin Thumboo to author and poet Felix Cheong, the event was a celebration of our literary scene and proved that with their vibrancy and creativity, Singapore’s literary minds have much to share with us all. The event, Celebrating Words: A Symposium of Poetry Readings by ELL Alumni and Friends, was held on August 23 in NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Thirteen prominent writers were invited to share their experiences and answer questions from eager students and members of the public. The fourteen prominent poets, all alumni and friends closely associated with the Department of English Language and Literature (ELL), were Felix Cheong, Elangovan, Gwee Li Sui, Heng Siok Tian, Aaron Lee, Lee Tzu Pheng, Oliver Seet, Kirpal Singh, Paul Tan, Edwin Thumboo, Eric Valles, Cyril Wong, Wong Phui Nam, and Yong Shu Hoong. Celebrating Words was co-sponsored by the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation.

In his opening address, Emeritus Professor Edwin Thumboo reminisced about the “old days” decades ago with a whole gang of young poets who loved and honed their craft through the years. Some, as he noted, are not known for their poetry, but for other aspects of their public life, yet he remembers their creative output fondly. In the panel sessions, the thought on not being known for their poetry continues to be echoed. Lee Tzu Pheng spoke of no one in her parish knowing that she wrote poetry, almost for a decade. Paul Tan added that he wears the hat of a poet “awkwardly” especially as our day jobs may be most “unpoetic”.

In the next panel session, a student raised the very pertinent question about what the hardest part of writing poetry is. To Kirpal Singh, the greatest challenge to poetry was being honest, echoing Hemingway’s insistence on writing words that are honest and true. For Cyril Wong, it was to continue writing despite social rejection of his poetry and even being turned away from events and sessions. On the other hand, Elangovan found poetry writing not a challenge at all, because to him it was “zen” – something to bring peace and calm in routinely crafting a work to represent the communities he was looking at. Yong Shu Hoong agreed that if a poem took a great amount of effort, it might not be meant to be. These insights were very illuminating in showing the students in the audience what it takes to be a poet and how these local literary greats honed and perfected their craft.

The final panel launched into a spirited discussion on gender. A member of the audience enthusiastically brought up the male gaze, used in poetry and prose when the female is objectified as the target of the male character. In response, Felix Cheong discussed one of his works where he took on the point of view of a woman and turned the male gaze on himself in that sense. The discussion also delved fruitfully into the purpose of poetry, when Oliver Seet very aptly pointed out that the purpose of poetry is to project oneself into different points of view and cultures and take on varied voices.

In sum, the stellar cast of local literary greats provided the audience with a session of poetry and enlightening discussion. Ultimately, they prove more than ever, that the local literary culture is not just existent, but flourishing. As Prof Thumboo noted, poetry is about passion. With passion in the human psyche, there will be words to translate that passion into poetry.

blog 2The event was attended by almost 200 students from schools, universities and members of the public.

blog 3Panellists for the 1st of 3 sessions: (from left) Edwin Thumboo, Gwee Li Sui, Lee Tzu Pheng and Paul Tan.

blog 4Paul Tan: “It was very meaningful to come back to NUS and see all the familiar and friendly faces.”

blog 5Celebrating Words (from left): Organising Committee member Vincent Ooi, Cyril Wong, Kirpal Singh, Yong Shu Hoong, Elangovan, Wong Phui Nam, Kirsten Law from the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation, Edwin Thumboo, Oliver Seet, Lee Tzu Pheng, Heng Siok Tian, Eric Valles, Paul Tan and Aaron Lee. Absent from photo were Felix Cheong and Gwee Li Sui.

blog 6Panellists for the 2nd session (from left):  Aaron Lee, Yong Shu Hoong, Elangovan, Cyril Wong and Kirpal Singh.

blog 7Panellists for the 3rd session (from left): Heng Siok Tian, Felix Cheong, Oliver Seet, Eric Valles and Wong Phui Nam.

blog 8Felix Cheong: “It was great to be back in NUS to do a reading.”

Puzzling behaviour of Singaporeans at 55

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Straits Times

 This was an article contribution by Associate Professor Sumit Agarwal, who has appointments with the Departments of Economics, Finance and Real Estate at NUS, Assistant Professor Jessica Pan of the Department of Economics at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Assistant Professor Wenlan Qian from the NUS Business School, in which the authors discussed what Singaporeans do with their CPF savings withdrawn at age 55.  They noted that findings from their recent research paper suggest that consumer financial literacy and sophistication are important factors driving withdrawal decisions.

The article is part of a monthly series “Ask: NUS Economists” by the NUS Department of Economics. Each month, a panel will address a topical issue.

Click here to read full article

The evolution of modern Singapore’s civil society

Thursday, 11 September 2014


This was an article contribution by Mr Pravin Prakash, an NUS student who is pursuing his master’s degree at the Department of Political Science at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, on the growth in Singapore’s civil society. He opined that it is essential that this public sphere evolve with little government interference, in order for it to function as an independent socio-political space, with original and autonomous ideas. He also noted that for this to exist, civil society must develop self-governing mechanisms that embrace diversity of ideas, while rejecting and censoring extremist ideas and groups that promote hate speech and discrimination.

Click here to read full article


When growth outpaces development

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Straits Times

This was an article contribution by Professor Jonathan Rigg from the Department of Geography at NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, on a gap opening up between economic growth and social well-being in Southeast Asia. Prof Rigg opined that the reason for this widening gap is that economic growth and rising incomes are treated as development ends when they are the means to achieve development, while other components of development – such as education or environmental regulation – are regarded either as means or as barriers to development, when they should also be viewed as ends.

Click here to read full article.

Calling out to all Year 1 and Year 2 Students.

Dear FASS Students,

The NUS Career Centre and National Council of Social Service is proud to bring to you the inaugural Social Work Forum to provide young undergraduates like yourself with insights to the world of social work.

3 speakers with different backgrounds and years of experience in the Social Service Sector are specially invited to share with you their firsthand personal experiences and answer any questions you may have about their line of work.

Come and find out more about the rewarding and fulfilling career in social work!

See you there!

blog post

Click here for the Speaker’s Profile

Click here to sign up for the event, registration deadline: 12 Sep, Fri

An Interview with Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal Recipient Joseph Daniels

Mr Joseph Daniels graduated from the Joint Degree Programme (JDP) in Geography hosted by NUS and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) with First Class Honours in 2013. He has won several awards, including the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal and NUS Geographical Society Gold Medal.

Currently a Master of Arts candidate in economic geography at the University of British Columbia, he came back to Singapore recently to conduct fieldwork for his master’s thesis. We had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with him to find out more about his experiences.

 Hi Joe, can you tell us a bit about your research?
 For my honours thesis, I was looking at bank restructuring in the early 2000s here in Singapore after the Asian financial crisis. I was focused on the ways in which state-firm relations had been reshaped by the restructuring as part of a larger process of international financial centre development. For my master’s thesis, I’m looking at the financialisation of urban space, or the relationships between real estate and finance, and specifically at the real estate investment trusts (REITs) and their role in shaping urban development and management in Singapore. This is work that tries to integrate what is called the ‘social studies of finance’ with the wider array of concerns found in Geography pertaining to places and spaces of economic, political, and social change.

 That’s interesting. What got you interested in Geography?
 At first I convinced my mom to let me enroll into UNC because I wanted to do public policy. To this day, I have never taken a formal course in public policy. However, I took a few geography courses in my first year and fell in love with it. It appeals more to me – I prefer to theorise and think about the world as opposed to perhaps the practicality of planning the world (though I do believe one leads to the other). Ultimately, geography provided a means of addressing the questions I had about the world in a way other disciplines had not—perhaps best captured by what some have called its intellectual promiscuity. The undisciplined nature of the field’s theoretical tool box was most appealing. I mean, who knew I would be able to meaningfully study the finance industry as a geographer! The ability to be surprised by what I learn is what is most enjoyable about geography.  Geography at NUS is one of the best places to do that.

 Q: Why choose Singapore?
 I always knew I wanted to study abroad for a while. Unlike most of my peers who went to Europe or Latin America, I wanted to go somewhere different. This concern for difference and being different has probably impacted more than I would typically admit, and probably is one of the reasons the identification of Geographer was so appealing. Yet I didn’t have the language skills, aside from a little bit of German, so I didn’t want to go to a place that was too daunting, particularly because I wanted my education to be worthwhile. I did not want my study abroad experience to be a glorified vacation. I stumbled upon the JDP which happened to be in Singapore and thought it seemed like a great opportunity. Little did I know that NUS Geography is one of the top programmes in the world and that it would impact my life so greatly!

How did find your experience living and studying in Singapore?

JD: Well, I keep coming back! (laughs) This is now my third extended trip to Singapore. I was really interested in what NUS had to offer for its strength in economic geography and I really took advantage of all of what the joint degree programme (JDP) had to offer. I also enjoyed the independence I had in planning my readings and assignments in NUS. The JDP, with its support at both UNC and NUS, has certainly opened new doors for me; to new intellectual horizons in new places. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

I was staying at the Prince George’s Park Residences here in NUS and also at my friends’ places at Ang Mo Kio and Kovan. The best part of my experience living and studying in Singapore has been creating what will be life-long friendships from an incredibly supportive group of students and mentors.

lky1         Joseph planting lemongrass at his friend’s house in Kovan

lky2(from left) Prof Robbie Goh, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Faizal Bin Abdul Aziz, Prof Brenda Yeoh, FASS Dean, Tan Sock Keng, Joseph Daniels and Yeo Li Kuang. The students are all from the Joint Degree Programme.

Semesters will end, but learning won’t

Pauline Luk, Department of Communications and New Media

I enjoyed very much my first year of being a graduate teaching assistant at NUS. It was challenging but rewarding. In the first few tutorials, I was frustrated. It seemed no one was interested in the module. I saw from the students’ eyes that they were puzzled at how the research methods they learned could be applied in real life. I felt like a failure, but I thought I needed to come up with a new trick to encourage them to participate in the learning.

I decided to set as my primary goal for the semester to use my training in communication and my research experience in qualitative research to emphasize integration of theories with practice. I realized it took a lot of time and experience to gather a complete bag of tricks and skills in teaching. I needed to make the teaching and learning interesting.

During tutorials, I associated theories with real situations I encountered while doing research. On some days, students would stay behind after tutorial to ask questions about their projects and how they could practice what they learnt. And when this happened, I would think: “This is a great day”. I saw students smile when they could associate what they did in their research projects with what they learnt in the lectures. I imagined that they would have tried their best to associate what they learnt in their projects and would be wondering if those same lessons could be applied to their work in future.

Learning is never-ending. I was lucky to have had an opportunity to help carry out a project of a group of students after their module was over. This came from a challenging invitation given to me by Professor Jeffery Peterson, the lecturer of the module, who suggested that I help put up the students’ project in a public exhibition organized by the Department of Communication and New Media to be housed at the ArtScience Museum in March 2014. I was worried if this could happen because the semester was already over by the time we got the invitation. This meant students would have to continue working on the project without any academic rewards.
I hesitated at first because I knew most NUS students were very concerned about their academic results. They would prefer to study hard to get a higher CAP or participate in a CCA to get CCA points. The project we planned to do could bring no such benefit. It also required a lot of time and commitment.

When I sent an email to recruit volunteers to participate in the project, the response was good. We formed a team of seven students from different tutorial groups, including a few from tutorial groups taught by another tutor. We had meetings to apply what we learnt in class to prepare for an exhibition from data collected. The volunteer team coordinated the photo selection for the installation within a week using social media. The volunteer students showed increasing confidence and reflectivity when we defined the purpose of the exhibition. They came up with creative ideas to attract more people to support the project. In the latter stage of the preparation, we collected original files of photos from selected assignments from the module. Luckily, we got 100% response rate within 24 hours. Most of the students were excited to present their coursework to the public and showed their eagerness to share.

The D-day came. The installation was showcased at the ArtScience Museum which attracted members of the public. I learned to call on students and get their help in presenting their ideas to the public. At the beginning, students were not familiar with sharing their ideas proactively. I encouraged them to approach
and engage visitors. Slowly, their confidence grew and by the end of the day, I could see a change in their level of engagement. This reinforced the meaning this project held for both me and the students.

From this experience, I learned to take up challenges for students. As a teacher, we ought to learn to trust students’ ability and offer them guidance so they can learn by themselves. Pushing the boundaries for both myself and the students is difficult but it is a way to learn. We can be a role model or we can just be a catalyst for learning. If there is a learning opportunity, give the students some hands-on practice. They would come to love and enjoy it. The outcome can be more than we expect.

Learning can be go beyond the curriculum. If it is meaningful, there would always be a way to make things work.

I hope that in the future I can create a more “Lively, Encouraging, Analytical, Responsible, Navigated, Interactive, Novel and Grateful” learning experience for my students. I hope my students can make a difference and can transform theory into practice in an enjoyable way.

Pauline Luk is a recipient of the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award (GSTA) for teaching undertaken in Semester 1, 2013-2014.