Dr. Stephen Lim awarded the UBC SoTL Leadership Certificate on Curriculum and Pedagogy in Higher Education

Dr. Stephen Lim is among the select group of NUS faculty members recently nominated and sponsored by the NUS Office of the Provost to undergo the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Leadership Certificate on Curriculum and Pedagogy in Higher Education program by the University of British Columbia. This program prepares academic leaders to develop expertise for scholarly approaches to, and the scholarship of, teaching, learning, and curriculum practices in contextually–bound higher education settings. Dr. Lim is the very first FASS colleague to have successfully completed the program.

We congratulate Dr. Lim on making this significant milestone.

Meet Our Pulitzer Prize Winning Alumna Mei Fong and Her New Book “One Child”

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(Interview conducted by Department of English Language & Literature undergraduate, Nigel Choo)

Mei Fong graduated from NUS with a Bachelors of Arts (Hons.) in English Literature in 1997. She began her career as a journalist at The New Paper, then pursued a Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University before joining the Wall Street Journal as a correspondent in 2001. Her work as a correspondent at the Journal won her various accolades including a shared Pulitzer for her stories on China’s transformation ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After leaving the China bureau, she was on faculty at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and is currently a fellow at the thinktank New America. Mei Fong was recently in town in December to promote her new book “One Child,” an account of China’s failed attempt at social engineering and its pervasive effects on the Chinese people.

Q: How did your undergraduate education in NUS influence you as a writer or journalist?

I think the honours year really helped me blossom as a writer by teaching me to read and write critically, and not just on Shakespeare or Joyce but also on popular culture. There was a great class Tim White taught on film critique I enjoyed immensely, and I also remember classes by professors Barnard White, Yong LiLan, Robbie Goh and Susan Ang vividly. Professors Goh and Ang in particular were influential because they encouraged my admittedly middle-brow tastes by lending me books on everything from science-fiction to Umberto Eco’s piece on James Bond. I knew I neither had the ability nor interest to write an epic canto, but their encouragement and examples showed me that it was possible–and indeed, necessary, to write intelligently about anything, even so-called “fluffy” topics.

Q: You have come a long way from being the 16-year old who was inspired by a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II to become a journalist and writer. Has there been a defining moment in your career thus far that you could share with us?

Lots of them! One was getting into a program to encourage creative writing that was sponsored by the Ministry of Education, when I was at Raffles Junior College. The program paired us up with mentors, and my mentor was the neurosurgeon and writer Gopal Baratham, who was a kindly influence. Gopal used to invite us mentees to the Tanglin Club for tea, and was generous about introducing us to the movers and shakers of Singaporean literary society. Imagine being a scrubby teenager and meeting folks like David Marshall and Catherine Lim. All these encounters inspired me, made me think there’s more to life than a 9-9 existence as an office peon.

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Q: What inspired the writing of “One Child”?

I’d been reporting on China for several years, and the one-child policy was one of the most interesting and fascinating policies that really shaped Chinese society. At first, as a city dweller, it seemed as if the policy really only affected those in rural areas, who were more subject to its excesses, like forced abortions and sterilizations. Such things didn’t happen to educated women in cities. But over time, I came to realize it really shaped a lot of things for everyday Chinese, things like who you date, the jobs you choose, and how you die. But the key for me came when I was reporting on the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, China’s biggest natural disaster in three decades. A lot of the children killed in the earthquake were only children, because the area near the earthquake’s epicenter had actually been a test pilot program for the one-child policy, before they launched it nationwide in 1980. Because of the coming Olympics, Beijing moved in ruthlessly to suppress dissent and parental concerns over the nature of these deaths–many in poorly built, “tofu” schools–and so, the earthquake became not just an illustration of the damaging effects of a natural disaster, but also exposed the great hurts inflicted by that unnatural disaster, the one child policy. While I was in the midst of reporting on all this, including taking a physically taxing journey with migrant workers, I discovered I was pregnant. I subsequently had a miscarriage. That brush with parenthood, and the pain of the loss, was a trigger for me to examine some of the issues raised in the book. Why do we want to have children? What happens when that desire is thwarted by nature or government fiat?

Q: Who should read “One Child” and why?

Anyone who’s interested in China, in the kind of dystopian worlds envisioned by Orwell and Huxley, anyone who’s interested in journalism, anyone contemplating the costs of parenthood, anyone with a uterus.

Q: Finally, do you have any advice for our undergraduates?

My advice is to those contemplating creative careers, in the arts, in writing, in journalism, filmmaking–all the so called “unsafe” jobs that your parents are horrified by. There are a million obstacles, but if you really want to do this, then YOU can’t be the first obstacle, you’ll never get anywhere. To those who want to go into it, I say, Find a Way.

And for those who’ve had some success in these fields, I say, Make a Way.

For a more comprehensive Q&A with Mei Fong, head to http://www.meifong.org/author-qa/ where she responds to questions about “One Child” in greater depth.

Towards a Greener Future at FASS

As part of NUS 110th Anniversary celebrations and launch of “Celebrating Trees in NUS” programme, a tree-planting ceremony was held in FASS at the green space located outside of LT13 on 29 December 2015.

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Prof Brenda Yeoh, Dean of Faculty and Mr Mark Teng, Director (Administration) at the tree-planting ceremony

Despite the slight drizzle, Professor Brenda Yeoh, Dean of the Faculty, along with other members of the Deanery – Prof Lionel Wee, Assoc Prof Loy Hui Chieh, Assoc Prof Ong Chang Woei and Assoc Prof Melvin Yap, Mr Mark Teng, as well as faculty staff and student leaders came together to plant six umbrella trees. Scientifically known as Terminalia Mantaly ‘Tricolor’, the tree is known for its horizontal tiers which grow upwards to form distinct canopies or layers of leaves that look like inverted umbrellas. They are mostly found in tropical regions and commonly cultivated for the deep shade they provide.

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The Umbrella Tree, or scientifically known as Terminalia Mantaly ‘Tricolor’.

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Other members of the Deanery as well as student leaders gathered as well to plant the Umbrella Trees.

In total, 110 trees were planted at various locations in campus throughout the month of December. The initiative, spearheaded by the NUS Facilities Management (OFM), aims to further enhance green spaces and deepen the appreciation of the University’s lush natural heritage. A booklet featuring memorable trees on campus has also been produced. A PDF version is available here.

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Launch of “Clinical Psychology in Singapore – An Asian Casebook” – An Unprecedented Compilation of Singapore-based Case Studies

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Dr Gregor Lange and Dr John Davison, Clinical Psychology lecturers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Psychology, launched a compilation of case studies based on real Singapore clients and families at Brahm Centre, Ren Ci Hospital on 17 September 2015.

The first of its kind resource was authored by numerous members of the Singapore’s psychology community – many of whom were present at the book launch attended by academics, practitioners and members of the general public.

The book contains 20 chapters which provide comprehensive accounts of common mental health problems prevalent in society such as depression, panic disorder, pyromania and exhibitionism just to name a few.

It also sheds light on the challenges and successes of practitioners who had grappled with cultural and ethical issues in the therapy room.

Dr Lange said that the dearth of resources in the local context was the impetus to the conceptualisation of the book. In usual classroom settings, the case studies used commonly were those that took place in the United States or other Western countries.

“The difference in setting – which could range from the usual Hollywood celebrity gone mad profile to the scenario of a cocaine-taking young adult in downtown Los Angeles, was something that students here frequently could not relate to,” he says.

Thus, the book complements the current curriculum in schools and institutions that specialises in abnormal, counselling or clinical psychology courses. It is slated to be the textbook for the “PL3236 Abnormal Psychology” module at NUS and will be a supplementary text for Temasek Polytechnic’s “Abnormal Psychology” module as well.

The Clinical Psychology in Singapore – An Asian Casebook is available for sale at NUS Press Singapore and Kinokuniya Singapore Main Store. It is currently retailing at S$40.00.

To purchase the book, click here. For more details regarding the book launch, click here.

For more information, please visit http://nuspress.nus.edu.sg/.

Department of Social Work Honours its First Alumni Award Recipients

Three distinguished alumni from the Department of Social Work – Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Dr S Vasoo and Mr Udhia Kumar – were the inaugural recipients of the Ann Wee NUS Social Work Alumni Award.

The Awards were given out on 22 September 2015 at an event held in conjunction with the annual Appreciation Tea for the Department’s Field Educators.

The Award, launched at the Faculty’s 85th Anniversary Dinner celebrations in November 2014, recognises alumni who have made major contributions to the social work education and practice.

It was also affectionately named after Mrs Ann Wee, the longest serving Head of Department of Social Work, who has inspired many with her selfless contributions to the sector. Dr Rosaleen Ow, Head of Department of Social Work, says, “the award is for alumni with a similar spirit to Mrs Wee who ‘serves without seeking rewards, give without seeking recognition’, in their work for more than 20 years.’”

One of the recipients, Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Senior Director at Singapore Children’s Society Family Service Centre (Yishun), dedicates her award to the people she has had the pleasure to work with namely Singapore Children’s Society, other social service practitioners, donors as well as supporters.

On her hopes for the social service sector in Singapore, Ms Wah Khoon acknowledges that social problems and sufferings will always be present in the society.

Despite that, she hopes the “social service sector would keep its ears to the ground so as to stay relevant to the changing needs of our people. That social service practitioners remember that social work is the gift of self, involving person to person transactions in order to bring about desired outcome for our clients.”

Dr S Vasoo, Associate Professorial Fellow at the Department, shares his sentiments about the sector as well. In essence, he feels that there is a need to adopt a more preventive and developmental approach while dealing with client populations as there is a tendency for social workers to take on a remedial approach instead.

“Such an orientation does not help to deal with the prevention of human breakdown,” he says.

He suggests that “It will be cogent for our human service professionals to help individuals and families to be inoculated with good human values, social skills and to be encouraged to acquire relevant industrial skills.”

Additionally, contributions can be more effective when more helping hands are involved in community development and community building.

Lastly, the current social work curriculum should be strengthened to equip trainees with invaluable skills such as the ability to anticipate social issues and problems to ensure a more dynamic social work profession.

“In understanding and analysing these aspects, they can develop a clearer sense of service direction for their organisations and make in-roads into areas where there are potential needs to be met and take proactive steps to tackle them,” he says.

Mr Udhia Kumar, Executive Director at Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre @ Tanjong Pagar, looks forward to more respectful sharing sessions with the Southeast Asian region and beyond.

“We should propagate or come up with our own indigenous models to uplift the community as the social service sector in Singapore is truly a unique one. We can share this knowledge or approaches with other nations who need not necessarily emulate us but adapt the approaches in a way that best benefits them. Likewise, we can also learn from other nations and I look forward to more of such sessions in the future,” he says.

The celebrations concluded with an Appreciation Tea for the field educators. Certificates and acrylic awards were also presented to various field educators and organisations for supervising students at the Department. Click here to see the full list of recipients.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Inaugural Ann Wee NUS Social Work Alumni Award Recipients 2015 (From left to right; Assoc Prof T C Chang, Ms Ang Bee Lian, Ms Florence Neo, Mr Udhia Kumar, Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Dr Vasoo S , Dr Rosaleen Ow, Mrs Ann Wee and Dr Peace Wong)

 

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Assoc Prof T C Chang and Dr Rosaleen Ow with individual awardees for their dedication in field education

 

Assoc Prof T C Chang and Dr Rosaleen Ow with Organisation Representatives
Assoc Prof T C Chang and Dr Rosaleen Ow with organisation representatives for the organisations’ continuous support for field education

Dr. Stephen Lim wins Appreciation Award at NUS Sports Awards 2015

Dr. Stephen Lim, NUS Sports Awards 2015 Awardee
Dr. Stephen Lim, NUS Sports Awards 2015 Awardee

The NUS Sports Awards 2015 Ceremony was held at the University Town on 25 September 2015, graced by NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye.

We congratulate our Assistant Dean, Dr. Stephen Lim, for being one of only two recipients of the 2015 Supportive Staff Award. In addition to meeting and guiding FASS Sports Scholars regularly, Dr. Lim inspires and empowers student athletes beyond his classroom and research lab.

Dr. Lim comments: “In my view, holistic educational experiences are important. My wish is for FASS and NUS students to excel not just academically and in student-led research, but also in such areas as sports, the performing arts, and community work. I particularly wish, on this occasion, that many more deserving students will come to benefit from the NUS Sports Scholarships and Grants. I look forward to continually contributing towards NUS’s educational landscape in as many diverse ways as are within my capacities.”

Congratulations again, Dr. Lim.

CNM offers new online Public Relations Specialisation programme for public through Coursera

Singapore, 14 September 2015 – The National University of Singapore (NUS) will introduce a new online specialisation programme in Public Relations for Digital Media. Designed for those who are keen to pursue a career in public relations in a digitally transforming global landscape, the programme is the University’s latest massive open online course (MOOC) to be offered through Coursera, a leading online leaning education provider.

The programme, which is offered by the Department of Communications and New Media at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is the first online specialisation programme of its kind to be offered globally on Coursera. The programme will be made available online via the Coursera platform from 15 September 2015.

NUS first announced its collaboration with Coursera as a partner university in February 2013. The University currently offers two MOOC courses via Coursera – Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition and Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogues By Plato.

Professor Mohan Dutta, Head of the NUS Department of Communications and New Media, is leading the new specialisation programme with Assistant Professor Iccha Basnyat and Dr Tracy Loh. With many years of experience in research, innovation in practice, and experimentation in cutting edge theorising of communication processes, especially in a digital media framework, this team of academic experts will emphasise theory-practice linkages through examples and real life problems drawn from across the globe.

Prof Dutta said, “The nature of Public Relations is rapidly changing, with the democratising role of new communication technologies in facilitating participation and engagement. This Specialisation course captures the Department’s core strength in leading the global conversation on drawing the theory-practice bridge. Moreover, the Specialisation depicts our continued innovations with new technologies as frameworks for delivering learning in globally accessible and culturally meaningful forms. Through this Specialisation, we hope to add to our continued contributions to the industry in leading the conversation on the practice of communication for cultivating a sustainable and just future.”

The Public Relations for Digital Media Specialisation programme

The new Public Relations for Digital Media Specialisation programme is specially designed to cater to individuals who have limited access to public relations education and who are keen on becoming public relations practitioners, including undergraduate students and professionals in other fields. It is also targeted at public relation practitioners who would like to delve deeper into theory practice conversations.

The 16-week certification programme will emphasise on the use of digital media in strategic communication activities in organisations. It will cover four courses – Introduction to Public Relations, Public Relations Research, Public Relations Campaigns and Social Media in Public Relations. The courses will be conducted using a staggered approach such that the level of specialisation and difficulty of each level will build on the previous one. The courses may also be taken individually for those who are keen only in specific topics.

Students who pursue the full specialisation programme will be required to complete a Capstone Project, whereby they are expected to apply their theoretical knowledge, undertake research and provide strategic solutions to communication issues in the form of a Public Relations Plan. At the end of the programme, students will be able to analyse public relations problems, understand the role of research in problem solving, develop strategic plans and implement the public relations plans in social and digital media contexts.

NUS will continue to create suitable MOOC offerings through Coursera. On 28 September, the University will be introducing another online course on Coursera titled ‘Superhero Entertainment’, which will examine the social and cultural significance of superhero comic books and films.

For more details regarding the Specialisation programme, visit www.coursera.org/specializations/public-relations.

My Joint Degree Programme Experience at King’s College London

In the autumn of 2014, I arrived at King’s College London (KCL or King’s for short) under its Joint PhD Degree Programme with NUS. Located in Central London by the side of River Thames, King’s is a vibrant academic community and the home of more than 10 Nobel Laureates. My stay in London and study at KCL have been a fruitful and eye-opening experience.

Year-end lunch organized by King's Interdisciplinary Social Science for its members.
Year-end lunch organized by King’s Interdisciplinary Social Science for its members.

One feature I think very positively about King’s academic community is that the links across departments are strong and the boundaries are almost nonexistent. For example, although I was officially hosted by the China Institute for the Joint Degree Programme, I was able to appoint a professor from the Department of Management as my main supervisor because of the close proximity between my research and his. The King’s Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (KISS-DTC) was established with the aim to build links for social scientists across the college. Soon after I arrived at King’s, I became a member of the KISS-DTC and benefited a lot from the methodological training I received at the center. In the process, I also got to know and became friends with many doctoral students from other disciplines of social science.

Celebrating the 2015 Chinese New Year with the classmates of King's College London
Celebrating the 2015 Chinese New Year with the classmates of King’s College London

 

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria. Taken during the 2015 European Political Science Assoiation Annual Meeting
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria. Taken during the 2015 European Political Science Assoiation Annual Meeting

During my time at King’s, in addition to researching for my dissertation, I had the opportunity to audit two modules on European political economy and public policy. The insight gained from the modules complements my current research very well. Given that I focus on monetary policy, the case of the European Monetary Union has greatly enhanced my understanding of the topic and at the same time, poses many theoretically challenging questions for me to reflect on. Furthermore, these materials are very useful for a political economy module that I am currently teaching at NUS, as they allow me to introduce a European perspective to a mostly Asian audience.

IAPSS World Congress 2015, Birkbeck College, University of London
IAPSS World Congress 2015, Birkbeck College, University of London

One good thing about studying at King’s is that one automatically has University of London. That brings about much more opportunities and resources beyond KCL itself. When I was at King’s, I often walked across the (highly dangerous) road to attend seminars at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), talk to the scholars in my field of study or visit the British Library of Economics and Political Science (the LSE library). Moreover, the geographical location of London makes academic conferences in Europe much more accessible and affordable. Within the academic year, I managed to attend three conferences held in Jerusalem, London and Vienna. At the conferences, I received valuable feedback for my research and greatly expanded my social network.

Academic conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Academic conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

 

St. Anthony's College, Oxford University
St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University

 

In front of the International Court of Justice (Peace Palace), The Hague, The Netherlands
In front of the International Court of Justice (Peace Palace), The Hague, The Netherlands

My life in London was certainly not all about academics. During my free time, I often walked along River Thames and visited the parks and the museums of London. On weekends, I could travel to other places in the UK for sightseeing or join my friends studying at Oxford or Cambridge. In addition, I also travelled to other European countries such as France and the Netherlands for slightly longer holidays during my stay in London. The marvel of the European culture and civilization only not opened my eyes and mind, but also constantly made me reflect on themes such as humanity, modernity and scientific progress.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

 

Louvre Palace, Paris, France
Louvre Palace, Paris, France

 

St. John’s College, Cambridge University, where Mr. and Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew took their photos three times in their lives.

Today, when people ask me what I miss about London and the UK, I can easily give them a long list, which includes, among other things, the vibrancy and diversity of the society, the splendid culture, the spirit of the Industrial Revolution that continues to inspire us today, as well as the Green and Pleasant Land, the British sense of humor and the aphrodisiac accent. Virginia Woolf, a famous modernist English writer and alumna of King’s College London once wrote: “London itself perpetually attracts, stimulates, gives me a play and a story and a poem…” That is, I think, the most accurate and vivid summary of my memory of London.

A marvel of art on the bank of River Thames, an embodiment of British creativeness
A marvel of art on the bank of River Thames, an embodiment of British creativeness

 

Big Ben and red telephone box, two icons of London
Big Ben and red telephone box, two icons of London

Li Xiang
Department of Political Science