Celebrating 80 FASS-inating Years

By A/P TC Chang, Asst Dean (External Relations)

Befitting its 80th Anniversary, the FASS (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) celebrated 2009 with a host of activities enjoyed by alumni, students and faculty members alike.  The activities ranged from intimate lunches to a theatre performance, poetry reading and a homecoming dinner with over 350 guests.

According to Professor Tan Tai Yong (Dean from 2004-2009), the Anniversary provided an excellent platform for alumni, students and staff to celebrate and reminisce the faculty’s achievements together.  To commemorate the anniversary, a faculty logo and slogan competition was organised for students.  The winning slogan captured the faculty well, as a place ‘Where FASSinating Things Happen’. 

Kicking off the anniversary year was a Lo Hei Chinese New Year lunch attended by the faculty’s ex-Deans as well as over 50 alumni, young and old.  This was followed by a combined Anniversary Bash in which FASS, together with the faculties of Dentistry and Science, celebrated their joint coming of age.

In conjunction with the NUS Festival of the Arts 2009, the faculty also organised a cosy dinner reception followed by a theatre performance. Alumni were invited to the play ‘Tree Duets’ produced and acted by FASS staff, Dr Paul Rae.

When Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka came to town, the Faculty also took the opportunity to co-sponsor the event and invite over 50 alumni and friends to a poetry recital and dialogue.  FASS guests enjoyed an evening of thought-provoking discussion with Mr. Soyinka at the NUS Cultural Centre.

The final event of the year was held at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House, and was attended by over 350 guests.  The venue was specifically chosen as many alum had expressed a desire to return to their alma mater and to visit the new Alumni House.  Aptly called ‘An Evening with Friends’, the dinner-event featured musical performances by alumni Joanna Dong (Class of 2006), faculty member Associate Professor Victor Savage (Class of 1972) and various undergraduate music and dance groups.  

Alumni Joanna Dong interacting with A/P Victor Savage
Alumni Joanna Dong interacting with A/P Victor Savage ‘An Evening With Friends’ indeed!

The anniversary dinner appropriately fell on World Kindness Day (13 November 2009), and many guests took the opportunity to make new friends while reacquainting with old ones.  Some even took the opportunity to organise their very own reunions. The Geography Honours Class of 1989/90, for example, reunited for their 20th anniversary that evening. It was particularly touching for the alumni to meet their former lecturers, some of whom for the first time since graduation.  Alumnus Chan Miang Boon expressed her thoughts about the combined anniversary: “Twenty years on, we still meet to share and learn the Art of ageing gracefully and the Science of staying young. Congratulations to FASS on its 80th Anniversary and thanks for the memories!”

Four FASS Deans, alumni and students blowing out candles on the anniversary cake
Four FASS Deans, alumni and students blowing out candles on the anniversary cake


2009 was a memorable year for the faculty. Its diverse range of events and activities managed to capture what many fondly remember of FASS – a place filled with meaningful activities and warm friendships. Here’s looking forward to an equally successful 90th anniversary!

New social activity for students draws huge interest

Participants at Step by Step, a new social activity for students. FASS graduate student, Ms Camille Jenica Pajarillo Zapata, is third from right.
Participants at Step by Step, a new social activity for students. FASS graduate student, Ms Camille Jenica Pajarillo Zapata, is third from right.

The sky was pouring and everywhere was wet. But the inclement weather did not stop participants who signed up for Step by Step, a new social activity organized by CPS1, to turn up in full force. Well, almost.

It was indeed an encouraging moment of truth when participants gathered excitedly at the University Health Centre on 22 January, despite the inconvenience of having an umbrella in hand.

Interestingly, the socialization had begun even before the activity started as participants mingled and chatted away like they were long-lost pals at a reunion.

Facilitators Ms Shazaf Moonis, Senior Clinical Psychologist, and Ms Cathy Tan, Student Support Manager at School of Design and Environment, started the activity by getting participants to pick a card from a stack.

Each participant was required to match their card with a corresponding card from another participant displaying items of the same category. Participants with cards in the same category became walking partners.

The group later discussed how the social interaction went. It seemed that it was generally easy for the participants to carry a conversation with their walking partners because of their effusive congeniality.

Participants had come from as far as Norway, India and Philippines. The cross-cultural setting provided participants insights into the interesting facets of different cultures.

In an ensuing game, participants were divided into two teams. The notion was to get the teams to complete the game in the shortest possible time by working together. The teams also discussed about group dynamics and how to resolve potential conflicts when working with other students in group settings.

While the activity ended with a brief introduction to relaxation and breathing techniques, the socialization that started over an hour ago did not stop. Instead, it went on as participants exchanged contacts with each other and indicated their interest in other sessions lined up for this semester.

“I really like the activity a lot as it was very fun. It was extremely rewarding for me as I had the opportunity to meet students of different nationalities and cultures. I would definitely recommend it to students who wish to make new friends, learn new social skills, gain some confidence, enjoy nature and get active,” said Ms Camille Jenica Pajarillo Zapata, a graduate student at FASS.

So, if you are keen to know more friends and increase your social circle, take the first step and sign up for Step by Step today!

By Ignatius Pang, FASS Student Support

step by step flyer

1. CPS is the Counselling and Psychological Services branch of the University Health Centre which conducts free workshops/activities for students.

Korea Come Alive

by Prise Ho Pei Fang, Sociology, Year 2 and Lee Jia En, Geography, Year 2

Prise and the family she stayed with
The Korean family I stayed with

Annyeonghaseyo? (Hello!)

The memories of last spring are still deeply etched in our minds when we were awarded scholarships from the National Institute for International Education Development (NIIED) for an 11-day programme to Korea. There, we experienced many different aspects of the Korean culture and also forged lifelong friendships with the other participants from all around Asia.

It seems an impossible feat to pick just one favourite part of the trip as each and every part is equally precious and unforgettable. We especially enjoyed the interaction between the participants and the supervisors. Having spent every waking moment in each others’ company for 11 days, we learned a lot about each other’s quirks and truly grew close to each other.

Visiting Seorak Mountain was a breathtaking experience. At the peak of the mountain, we experienced the picturesque scenery through the peaceful calm of the Korean morning to the chilly afternoon was awe-inspiring. We spent quite a while on the mountain, simply soaking in the euphoria and taking many pictures in hope to catch the splendour and bring back part of it with us. One fond memory was eating piping Tokbukki, a rice cake snack, in the chilly weather of the high altitudes.

Homestay was yet another part of the trip that left us with timeless memories. It was raining when we arrived but the cold immediately dissipated as our host family welcomed us with open arms and warm hugs. We were enveloped in the warmth of family as we sat in the living room drinking soju, eating snacks and kimchi, and chatting with one another. Despite the short three day stay, it already felt as if we were part of their family.

There are so many parts of the trip that we fondly remember, each important in piecing together the memorable spring in Korea. The stately Cheongwadae (Presidential Palace), heart-stopping beauty of the lake we cycled past on our bicycle tour in Gyeong Ju, the heat from the steel rods at POSCO, the reverberation of the drumbeats through our bodies during the Nanta show, the rows of neatly parked cars waiting to be shipped at the Hyundai shipping yard, the mouth-watering Dakgalbi we ate for dinner at Chun Cheon on our first night there, the smell of freshly cooked Hoddeok that we had at a rest stop on our way from visiting Naksansa Temple, romantic walks beneath endless rows of pine trees in Nami Island, the lectures at the hosting universities, and the sheer smiles after eating Baskin Robbins on a hot Seoul day along Cheonggyecheon – these are all things that will continue to inspire us .

The trip gave us an opportunity to get to experience and learn more about Korea firsthand and where the Korean language which we learn in school came alive through Korean culture and traditions. The cultural aspect from this trip complemented our knowledge of Korea gained through the K-wave, thus giving us a holistic and memorable experience to dynamic Korea.

Kamsahamnida. (Thank you.)

Us with our new friends eating Baskin Robbins ice-cream along Cheonggyecheon in Seoul
Us with our new friends eating Baskin Robbins ice-cream along Cheonggyecheon in Seoul
Us at the Cheongwadae (Presidential Palace) which means The Blue House
Us at the Cheongwadae (Presidential Palace) which means The Blue House

Prise Ho and Lee Jia En are reading Korean 2 at the Centre of Language Studies, FASS and have been awarded scholarships by the National Institute for International Education (NIIED). The Korean government organisation is affiliated with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and aims to develop and foster human resources in the age of globalisation. It awards scholarships to international students to give them an opportunity to know more Korean culture and society through the programme. The scholarships will cover all expenses for the students in Korea.

They participated in the programme from 11 to 21 May 2009 and visited cultural and industrial sites, and Korean universities. They also experienced staying with a Korean family (home stay).

Proud to be part of the NUS Waterpolo Team!

by Sean Bai, Geography, Year 4

The NUS waterpolo team celebrating their win The NUS Waterpolo Team celebrating their win

Receiving the Merit Award for Team (Men) at the recent NUS Sports Awards 2009 has been a real honor and reward for the NUS Waterpolo team. This award is the gratification and fruit of all the hardwork and dedication that the team has put in over the past few years.

Every award is always accompanied with a legacy or story of toil and sweat, perseverance and resilience. Our journey thus far has especially been so, where every organising of the annual inter-varsity tournament or every adrenaline-charged training has been deeply etched in our minds. We believe that hard work pays off and it certainly has paid off in more ways than one.

Awards and accolades aside, our experience as a team has been unforgettable. Remembering the times when our mates from the local waterpolo community, alumni of the NUS family or even friends on exchange or overseas job postings joined us in a game of waterpolo, it has definitely been a fulfilling and memorable time of camaraderie and friendship. It is precisely the testing times of pulling through difficulties and complications where bonds were forged and our resilience polished. These experiences molded us and made us grow as a team, not only to face greater challenges but also as ambassadors of the sport and the university.

Winning tournaments would not have been sweet if not for the team spirit that brought us through as well as the unfaltering support from our families, friends and the school. However, it has also not been simply about winning that makes all our time spent worth it. Our pursuit stems out from our aspirations in realising our dreams, to excel and to inspire. Our common goal drives us on to continually challenge and exceed ourselves. It is precisely the assurance of a team being there for each other that gives us the confidence to always press on and do better.

Waterpolo is definitely one of our many interests jostling for our time and attention. It definitely has not been the easiest of tasks to juggle trainings, schoolwork as well as our other commitments. However, neither is it impossible. There has to be a lot of self-discipline to set our priorities right as well as willpower to make sacrifices. It takes a lot of self-belief and reassurance to handle multiple commitments simultaneously. The expectations of being a good student, dedicated sportsman as well as a contributing hall resident may seem too arduous for some but it is precisely these circumstances that challenge our limits. A matured and positive attitude is necessary to always keep our goal in mind as well as to withstand the incessant temptations to give up or slack off.

Time truly flies when you are making full use of it. Our varsity life is the last frontier before we step out into the ‘real’ world. It is the last opportunity for us to fully maximise our time here before we take that final step. Reading the news of our national waterpolo team clinching their 23rd consecutive SEA Games Gold medal, I sincerely hope that our team will continue to soar to greater heights as well. At the same time, my advice would be to find your interest in these remaining vestiges of our student life. Challenge yourself to the limits, grab hold of your aspirations and realise them, make them worthwhile, meaningful and memorable.


FASS congratulates all the winners of the NUS Sports Awards and is very proud of the 108 FASS students who have participated and won.

Graduate students going places

Mr Taberez Ahmed Neyazi has been selected as Visiting Fellow for the East-West Center Visiting Fellow Programme for 2009-2010 by the East-West Centre located in Hawaii for research in the broad area of deepening of democracy in India. Taberez joined the South Asian Studies Programme for a PhD after securing an M. Phil in Political Studies from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Taberez has successfully defended his doctoral thesis in May 2009. His thesis engaged with the causes and consequences of the rise of the Hindi language media in India. The doctoral project has resulted in the acceptance of a paper in the prestigious journal, Media, Culture and Society. Taberez has also published papers on Indian Muslims in the Asian Journal of Political Science and in the Journal of Muslim and Minority Affairs.

 His post-doctoral project on media and politics in India at the East-West Center seeks to explore the relationship between the rise of the vernacular media, and a phenomenon that is popularly known as India’s “democratic upsurge”. India’s is not only the most populous democracy – it is one where people from lower caste and class groups are increasingly beginning to participate in electoral politics. Taberez’s main hypothesis is that the process of the deepening of India’s democracy has occurred largely due to the rise of the vernacular media with its ability to reach the masses that could not be reached by English newspapers and television.


Dr Sujoy Dutta received a PhD in South Asian Studies from NUS in December 2008. He has recently been appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. The present appointment includes teaching Microeconomics and Agricultural economics at the undergraduate level. He is also involved in designing a module on research methodology for doctorate students who come from a variety of disciplines. His research interests includes transformation of peasant economies in South Asia and political economy of development and change in South Asia.


Ms Gauri S. Pathak has won funding to pursue doctoral studies in the Medical Anthropology programme of the University of Arizona. Gauri came to SASP with a BBA degree from the NUS Business School.  Her strong interest in the Social Sciences drew her to the South Asian Studies Programme where she wrote a Master’s thesis on the social organisation and identity of the Dabbawallas in Mumbai, India. 

At the University of Arizona Gauri will pursue further studies in the area of South Asian medical anthropology. Her interests lie in examining cultures of biomedicine, the indigenisation of biomedical conceptualisations, and tensions between cultural variations and globalising influences on medical knowledge, as well as the themes of subjectivity, embodiment, and citizenship. As it undergoes rapid change, South Asia provides fertile material on such themes and the practiced medicine resulting from globalisation’s homogenising and heterogenising forces, and she is interested in lived experiences and narratives of illness, especially chronic and psychiatric conditions, in the region. For doctoral research, she plans to zoom in on the subjective experiences of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), their families, and their health professionals in an urban Indian cultural world.

Student to attend Ministerial Dialogue 2009

Mr K. Shantasaravanan, a Year-2 Social Work student has been nominated to attend the Ministerial Dialogue (MD) 2009 organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) on 24 Oct 2009 at the National Museum Gallery Theatre. The MD provides opportunities for youths in Singapore to share their views on social and national issues. The theme for this year’s MD is “Youths Talkback”. Participants will discuss topics across the broad categories of Economy, Society, People and Our Future.

Participants are also required to participate in the MD pre-dialogue online forum hosted on the NYC, Singapore Facebook page. The online platform would enable participants and the wide youth community to exchange their views before the actual MD.

New scholarship holders

Chen Jiahui, a fourth year student from the Department of Japanese Studies, was awarded the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho: MEXT) Scholarship 2009. Awarded by the Japanese Government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the scholarship entitles Jiahui to a year of study at Hiroshima University.

Ong Shu Dawn also received the JASSO Scholarship from the Japan Student Services Organisation (JASSO). The third year student is majoring in both Psychology and Japanese Studies. Dawn will receive a monthly stipend of 80,000 yen for 11 months of study at Hokkaido University, as well as a one-time travel allowance of 80,000 yen.

Wang Gungwu Medal and Prize

Our heartiest congratulations to Dr Genevieve Denise Duggan who graduated from Sociology in December 2008 – Dr Duggan was the recipient of the Best PhD Thesis in the Social Sciences/Humanities AY2008/2009. Her thesis was entitled ‘Processes of Memory on the Island of Savu, Eastern Indonesia’. She was supervised by A/P Roxana Waterson. She also won the Ananda Rajah Prize for having written the Best PhD Thesis in Sociology/Anthropology for Academic Year 2008/2009.

Graduate Students’ achievements

Graduate Teaching Assistantship

Ho Chi Tim was admitted into the History-PhD programme at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (UHM), starting August 2009. He was awarded a graduate teaching assistantship, which includes an annual stipend of US$15,552 for the first year and a tuition waiver, and will assist in teaching the pioneering World History courses offered by the Department of History at UHM. The award is renewable for an additional two years. Chi Tim has proposed to research a history of social welfare in colonial Singapore and in the process, hopes to cover several fields of research including social, economic and developmental theories, social histories, and colonialism and post-colonialism in modern Southeast Asia.

Chi Tim earned a BA (Hons) (1999-2003) and a MA (2006-2009) from the Department of History at NUS. He worked as a policy officer in the Singapore Civil Service. His MA thesis on “A Situated History of the Journal of Southeast Asian History / Studies” was completed under the supervision of Assistant Professor Maitrii Aung-Thwin. He is also the co-founder and editor of the web-journal Citizen Historian (http://citizenhistorian.com/), a graduate students’ initiative to promote discussion and sharing of ideas about all things concerning history.


 Minami Orihara recently received her MA degree in History, and will join the Asian Studies Programme at the University of British Columbia in Canada, beginning in September 2009. She will be working on Japanese Buddhism and politics during prewar and wartime periods under Professor Nam-lin Hur. She has been awarded full financial support for up to four years.

Her MA thesis focused on Japanese millenarian thought in the 1930s and she has co-authored a paper with Assoc Prof Gregory Clancey on Japanese religion and nature, to be published in a volume edited by Professor Prasenjit Duara.

Students win grants and awards

Student Research Grant Award

Ganga Sasidharan, a PhD student in Communications and New Media Programme, won the Student Research Grant Award on 27 July 2009. The year- long grant was conferred by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation.

The Lien Centre for Social Innovation, a partnership between the Lien Foundation and Singapore Management University aims to advance the thinking and capability of the non-profit sector. The centre had called for student research grant applications for 2008-2009 that focused on, among other areas, research that would enhance understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Asia. The centre had invited student research proposals from full-time Honours/Masters/Ph.D. degree students in local universities in Singapore. The grant of S$2000 for full-time PhD students covers direct expenses incurred as part of the research study. Applications were evaluated based on the originality, quality, importance and impact of the study with respect to issues in social innovation as well as the relevance of the study to Singapore or Asia. Ganga was awarded the student research grant for her PhD research project, “Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Relations: Conceptualisation of CSR in India, its effect on Organisational Commitment and the mediating role of Organisation-Public Relationships.” This recognition of the importance and potential impact of her work has been of immense encouragement to Ganga as she travels between India and Singapore to complete the data collection for the study.

Ganga will receive S$ 2000 for her PhD fieldwork.


 Fee Waiver Programme Award

Also a PhD student in the Department of Communications and New Media, Carol Soon Wan Ting was given the Fee Waiver Programme Award by the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR).

Organised by the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), the Internet Research 10.0 – Internet: Critical is the 10th annual conference for students and scholars in any discipline in the field of Internet studies. The conference was held from 7-10 October 2009, in Milwaukee, WI, USA. Last year, the conference organisers launched the inaugural AoIR annual fee waiver program. Opened to all graduate students and faculty members, three applicants would be selected for the conference fee waiver program award based on their proposal of how their participation will contribute to the conference. Carol, with her full paper presentation, panel presentation and doctoral colloquium participation, was selected for this award. The award included free conference attendance, free annual AoIR membership for one year and free admission to the conference banquet celebration.

At that point in time, Carol said that she was encouraged by the recognition of her reseach contribution and looked forward to a fruitful participation at AoIR.