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!

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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.

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition

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Samsung is calling for all young, creative and enthusiastic change makers to join the Solve for Tomorrow competition.

Create a better future for people in Singapore and stand to win cash prizes, an internship in Samsung Singapore, and a study trip to Korea!

What it is:
The best inventions in the world fulfill a need, solve an existing problem, or simplify the complicated. They are often based on a simple idea that makes you wonder, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’.

Well, now you can. We want to make Singapore a better place – and we want you to be part of it.

Think about how you can use technology innovatively to benefit the community around you. It could be to start an online movement against cyberbullying, or build a device that would make it easier to identify recyclable products, or design an app to collect old recipes and preserve local cultures.

Be creative!

How to take part
It’s easy to enter! From now to 5 September, all you have to do is:

1. Form a team of four and think of innovative and impactful ideas on how to solve a social issue in Singapore that leverages technology.

2. Record your idea in a 3-minute video, upload it to YouTube and make sure the link is public.

3. Submit your entry at

Possible benefits for infants exposed to two languages

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Straits Times


In today’s edition of The Straits Times, it was reported that a study, led by Associate Professor Leher Singh from the Department of Psychology at NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Science, has found that babies exposed to two languages may have better memory and are quicker to absorb information than those exposed to only one language. The study of six-month-old infants in Singapore was the first of its kind in the world to look at the effects of bilingualism in infants at such a young age. The study is a partnership between NUS, Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the National University Health System.

The dollars and economic sense of Cupid agencies

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Straits Times

This was an article contribution by Ms Elisabetta Gentile, a lecturer from the Department of Economics at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Discussing whether there is an economic rationale for matchmaking services, she highlighted that dating markets, like labour markets, are match making markets where there are two sets of elements (e.g. employers, and workers), and each element has a set of preferences. The market is in equilibrium when each element of one set is matched with an element of the other set. Dating markets, however, are different from labour markets, in that it is unclear who the buyer and the seller are, but the principle is basically the same. She opined that by facilitating the meeting of supply and demand, matchmakers eliminate information asymmetries and correct the market failure. That makes the whole society better off by creating more matches, and higher satisfaction among matched pairs.

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.

Book tracing contributions of cultural pioneers launched

beritaSunday, 31 August 2014

Berita Minggu

It was reported that the Malay community can trace back and follow the contributions of local academics and cultural pioneers through a new publication series, called “Seri Warisan Melayu Singapura”. The first two books, Narrating Presence: Awakening from Cultural Amnesia by Dr Azhar Ibrahim, a Visiting Fellow from the Department of Malay Studies at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Potret Puisi Melayu Singapura by local writer, Mr Isa Kamari, were launched on 30 August 2014. The publication series by the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) aims to document and preserve the intellectual and cultural heritage of the Malay community for the future generation.

FASS Forward: Reading Articles and Writing Essays

Calling all Year 1 freshmen! If you would like to learn how you can dissect academic readings or pick up tips on crafting your essay assignments, this session is just for you! Together with top-performing students, our FASS lecturers (Geography, Psychology and Sociology) will be there to share their personal experiences! Registration closes 12 September, 11.55pm.

Please click on the following link to register:

FASS Forward 2014 Publicity Slide