A Double Surprise!

CNM threw a thank-you party for Assoc Prof Millie Rivera for her dedicated service over two terms as CNM Head. Her successor, Prof Mohan Dutta was in turn surprised by a welcome-cum-tenure celebration.

CNM staff had a rollicking time hosting both profs who sent out separate but similar emails within the hour, each thinking they were organising a surprise party for the other.

The event started with buffet lunch attended by faculty, grad students and alumni. The guests were entertained by a video tribute put together by Dr Millie’s former students. CNM alumni also penned down their gratitude to Dr Millie in a scrapbook. Overwhelmed by the gesture of appreciation, Dr Millie declared that CNM would always hold a special place in her heart.

The party upped its ante when Assoc Prof Lonce Wyse presented the new CNM head, Prof Mohan with a Super Mario outfit, complete with a potted plant to signify power, to commemorate Prof Mohan’s arrival and tenure.

More significantly, the double celebration spoke of the common vision of both professors in bringing CNM to greater heights.

The CNM family with Dr Millie as Harry Potter and Prof Mohan as Super Mario

CNM welcomes new department head, Professor Mohan J. Dutta!

Professor Mohan J. Dutta


Professor Mohan Dutta has taken over from Associate Professor Milagros Rivera as the Head of Department of CNM with effect from 1 July 2012.

Prior to this, Professor Dutta was Professor of Communication and Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University.  He also served as a Service Learning Fellow and a fellow of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy in Purdue.

Professor Dutta is acknowledged as one of the most prolific scholars in health communication internationally. He teaches and conducts research in international health communication, critical cultural theory, poverty in healthcare, health activism in globalisation politics, indigenous cosmologies of health, subaltern studies and dialogue, and public policy and social change. Currently, he serves as Senior Editor of the journal Health Communication and sits on the editorial board of seven journals.

Concurrently, Professor Dutta will also establish the Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) within CNM for research in health communication and social change in Asia, and serve as its Director.

Meanwhile, Dr. Millie is looking forward to becoming a “civilian professor” after serving as Head for eight years. During her term, she transformed the Information and Communications Management programme into the interdisciplinary Communications and New Media, with a unique curriculum in Asia. Subsequently CNM was upgraded by the university to a full-fledged department, with one of the largest enrollments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

She also pushed the envelope by introducing an internship programme with academic credit and hiring full-time teaching assistants to cater to the large cohorts of students.

For all these efforts, the 2012 QS World University Rankings by Subject has recognised CNM as the third top department worldwide in the discipline of Communication and Media Studies.

Research Talk by A/P Milagros (Millie) Rivera

“Mobile phones and the creation of alternative spaces by South African youths”


Date & time:

Wednesday, 11 April, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM



School of Computing

13 Computing Drive

Singapore 117417



Many studies focusing on developing countries or marginalized communities have framed mobile phones as an effective strategy for poverty reduction, citing their relative lower infrastructural cost compared to landlines, relative affordability compared to the personal computer, important role in information dissemination, and ease of use (Bhavnani, Chiu, Janakiram, & Silarszky, 2008; Diga, 2008; Slater & Kwami, 2005; Cecchini & Scott, 2003). While poverty and social inequalities are important issues, research focusing on the social use of mobile phones would provide a greater understanding on how people in developing countries have appropriated the technology and the role that it plays in their lives. Moreover, such a study could help assess the cultural impact of the mobile phone and uncover the symbolic meanings that are attached to the artifact and its use. Finally, although much research has been conducted on marginalized communities, these communities are made up of pockets of people who differ in social status and life circumstances. For instance, among the economically disadvantaged there may be various groups who face different challenges and for whom the mobile phone may play a different role.

This paper focuses on such a group. Specifically, we examined how South African youths from the township of Makhaza in Khayelitsha, transitioning from high school to tertiary education or full time employment, used their mobile phones and the meanings that the devices hold for them. Using “space” as a key construct, this paper relies on Victor Turner’s theory of ‘liminality’ (Turner, 1979), Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopias as conceptualized by Wearing (1999), and the power of contexts and spaces Shields (1991), to understand the uses of, and meanings ascribed to, mobile phones by youth in transition. The interplay between these theoretical approaches paints a bigger picture of the youths’ lives and social circumstances and how these, in turn, are represented and expressed through the everyday use of mobile phones.



Associate Professor Milagros (Millie) Rivera is the Head of the Department of Communications and New Media in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore. Dr. Rivera’s work centers on new media regulation and the impact of new media on society and individuals. Her work has been published in Communication Education, New Media and Society; Communications of the Association for Computer Machinery; Journal of Science, Technology and Society; Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies; Asian Pacific Law and Policy Journal; Media Asia; Asian Journal of Communication; Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs; Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly; Journalism History; Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal; Federal Communications Law Journal; World Internet Law  Report; and Communications and the Law.

Congratulations to A/P Lonce Wyse on his tenure!

A/P Lonce Wyse had a rosy celebration today with the CNM family for his tenure.

And do we mean rosy! Thanks to Prof. Mohan Dutta who visited from the U.S. and hand-carried our surprise gift, we had a pink Hello Kitty-themed convocation gown and mortarboard.

After a department lunch, we called on A/P Wyse and sprung our little surprise. But he recovered quickly from his initial shock to join in the fun and pose for our cameras.

A/P Wyse holds up his tenure scroll, while balancing that Hello Kitty on his mortarboard.

A/P Wyse holds up his tenure scroll, while balancing that Hello Kitty on his mortarboard.

To honour him, we all joined in the Hello Kitty fun too. Congrats A/P Lonce Wyse!

Hello CNM!

Hello CNM!

A/P Lonce Wyse addressed the “Creativity in Singapore” symposium

A/P Lonce Wyse was invited to present at an interdisciplinary panel as part of the “Creativity in Singapore” symposium organised by the Singapore Research Nexus (SRN) on February 17th, 2012.

A/P Lonce Wyse making his presentation

A/P Wyse making his presentation

A research repository undertaken just last year by NUS’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the SRN showcases research on Singapore in the fields of arts, humanities and social sciences.

The panel was timely, given increasing opportunities for and debate on creativity in Singapore. A/P Wyse’s talk was entitled “Creativity, Interdisciplinarity, and the New Relevance of the Arts” and he discussed the trend of collaborations between the arts and the sciences, with both cultures mutually informing and engaging the other. In so doing, he painted the new relevance of the arts, especially in the context of Singapore.

An enthralled audience

An enthralled audience

Masters student Wendy Wong wins research scholarship to Korea

Wendy Wong, a Masters research student and teaching assistant with CNM, has won a research scholarship to conduct part of her research on the socioemotional needs of older adults and their use of new media in South Korea. This scholarship is awarded to only six students from participating universities of the ASEAN Universities Network and Wendy is delighted to be one of them from NUS for 2012.

She will be conducting her research in Seoul, South Korea over the vacation period.

Congrats Wendy!

Dr. Carol Soon makes for CNM’s second PhD graduate

Graduate students and staff from CNM gathered in a surprise celebration for Dr. Carol Soon on being conferred her PhD from NUS.

Carol was presented a number “2” jersey by CNM Head Dr. Millie Rivera that was specially created by the graduate students, in recognition of Carol being the second-ever PhD to have graduated from our young department. Dr. Ganga Sasidharan, CNM’s first PhD graduate, then passed on the symbolic flame from an Indian oil lamp.

Carol had good news to share with the department too. She received the 2012 Endeavour Research Fellowship Award from the Australian government. This is a competitive, merit-based scholarship programme offered globally, which will allow Carol to conduct her post-doctoral research with the Asia Research Centre (the Special Research Centre of the Australian Research Council) in Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

Carol with CNM Head Dr. Millie Rivera and supervisor Dr. Hichang Cho

Carol with CNM Department Head Dr. Millie Rivera and supervisor Dr. Hichang Cho

2 CNM winners at the FASS Teaching Excellence Awards

CNM scored another haul at this year’s FASS Teaching Excellence Awards (FTEA). Both Dr Ingrid Hoofd and Mr Gui Kai Chong were recognised at the Faculty-level to be awarded the FTEA.

Dr Ingrid Hoofd, three-time winner of the FTEA

Dr Ingrid Hoofd, three-time winner of the FTEA

Of course it helped that both are excellent teachers who have been conferred with other awards on previous occasions.

This is the third time that Dr Hoofd (left) has won the FTEA (she has won it in 2008 and 2010). She also received a CNM teaching award in 2009 and the University-level Annual Teaching Excellence Award (ATEA) in 2010.

Mr Gui Kai Chong, two-time winner of the FTEA

Mr Gui Kai Chong, two-time winner of the FTEA

Mr Gui (right) won the FTEA in 2010 and the CNM teaching award in 2011.

Both Dr Hoofd and Mr Gui credit the supportive environment within the department. Said Dr Hoofd, “The general atmosphere of collegiality in CNM has certainly contributed to my passion for teaching!” Mr Gui echoed, “I am very grateful to the department for nominating me for this award, the Faculty for presenting this award to me and to my great colleagues who make CNM such a wonderful place to work in.”

Mr Gui added, “Teaching CNM students as well as students from other departments in NUS about ‘Theories of Communications and New Media’ and ‘Culture Industries’ has been a truly joyful and memorable experience. I feel encouraged when I see students complete my modules with very high morale, because it means that they have enjoyed the whole learning process and have found the modules useful and enriching.”

Mr Gui and Dr Hoofd were presented with award certificates

Mr Gui and Dr Hoofd were presented with award certificates at a FASS ceremony

Heartiest congratulations to both!

CNM’s new “knight” — Associate Professor Cho Hichang

As a new department, A/P Cho Hichang’s tenure and promotion follows hard on the heels of A/P Lim Sun Sun’s success a few months back.

After all the fun shared at A/P Lim’s celebration, CNM colleagues decided that A/P Cho be knighted this time, with a tunic, belt and gauntlets that travelled here from the US. The dubbing ceremony was presided over by Dr. Millie Rivera, who conferred a crown that read “Tenured Prof” and a ruler in place of his chain-mail and sword. After all, a researcher and teacher of the highest order cannot do without some tools of the trade.

A/P Cho was given an onerous task—at short notice—of briefing colleagues at a staff meeting, and so was kept plugged away at his presentation while colleagues surreptitiously organised the celebration. Imagine his surprise when we swooped in with chocolate cake (his favourite), costume and put him through an oath!

A/P Cho with CNM colleagues

A/P Cho with CNM colleagues

Congratulations A/P Cho, our shining knight!

Dr Weiyu Zhang delivers keynote lecture to youth in Korea

Dr. Weiyu Zhang was invited to deliver a keynote lecture titled “Change, Youth, Failure, Excellence” at the 22nd International Youth Forum on August 18, 2011.

The forum is an annual event organised by The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and The National Council of Youth Organisations in Korea. Over one hundred youth from thirty-one countries participated in this event.

The full transcript of the talk can be found at http://www.weiyuzhang.net/uploads/2/2/2/7/222747/a_talk_prepared_for_the_22nd_international_youth_forum.doc