HYI Visiting Fellows Programme By Manuel Victor J. Sapitula, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology

Manuel Victor J. Sapitula

The Harvard-Yenching Institute (HYI) Visiting Fellows’ Programme is an extremely fruitful and productive research opportunity for NUS students. HYI is most interested to invite students in the Humanities and Social Sciences who conduct work on East or Southeast Asia. Once accepted, HYI is the perfect home base in the United States for visiting fellows to conduct research and meet excellent scholars from their field. Visiting fellows are assigned a Harvard faculty to act as supervisor during their stay there; they are also invited to confer with scholars outside Harvard, should they find this helpful. Visits to other universities in North America for conferences and scholarly consultations are likewise encouraged. Furthermore, the Yenching Library houses one of the most exhaustive collections of materials on China, Japan and Korea in the United States. 

During my one-year stint in Harvard, I was able to interact with very promising co-fellows from various universities in East Asia and learn from their expertise. We had regular workshops where we had the chance to present our research and obtain useful feedback. What is even more exciting is the chance to be able to attend classes offered by Harvard Faculty, which has broadened my thinking and enriched my dissertation writing. Resources for research in Harvard libraries are breath-taking, and visiting fellows will surely find relevant (and sometimes rare) materials for their research in libraries scattered throughout the campus.

The HYI also sponsors leisure activities on campus and trips in various places in the United States. Trips around Massachusetts and other New England states are always eagerly anticipated by the fellows. It’s a welcome break from all the demands of research and writing!   NUS students should maximize this opportunity and apply for the Visiting Fellows’ Programme; it will surely be one of their most memorable experiences in their academic journey.

HYI’s Thanksgiving Day party
Plymouth Plantation, one of the trips that HYI sponsored for the fellows and scholars.
Wei Bingbing with Manual- both of our students in the Visiting Fellows Programme. The other two ladies are on a one-year “Training Programme” from Chinese universities.


Deanery Connect Session 2

The FASS Deanery would like to have a chat with YOU – our FASS undergraduates.

This e-chat session is with our Vice-Dean (Undergraduate Studies) – A/P Paulin Tay Straughan where you will be asked to log into IVLE to participate. Further instructions will be sent out to students who register for the session.

Talk to us by signing up right NOW!

Please click here to register your attendance for this event

NUS and CSC bring academics and policymakers together to discuss use of administrative data in formulating public policy

Prof Ho Teck Hua, Vice President (Research Strategy), NUS, giving the Opening Address

The Department of Economics, FASS and the Civil Service College (CSC) recently organised a two-day conference on “”Evidence-based Public Policy Using Administrative Data” attended by almost 280 participants. This marks the first time an academic institution and a government agency have come together to provide a platform for international and local academics to meet with Singapore public policymakers to explore the untapped possibilities of using administrative data to make sensible, informed policy decisions that are backed by robust scientific evidence.

The welcome address was given by Guest-of-Honour, Prof Ho Teck Hua, Vice President (Research Strategy), and Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor, NUS, and was followed by keynote presentations by Dr Victor Lavy (William Haber Chaired Professor of Economics at Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Dr Zhang Junsen (Wei Lun Professor of Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Dr Francis Kramarz (Director of CREST-INSEE). The presentations were on a wide range of research which utilised administrative data. Amongst other topics, the speakers demonstrated how increasing the budget allocated per class of students could have a positive impact on academic achievement and behaviour in Israel; and shed light on how population control policies affected household saving patterns in China.

“Administrative data provides a wealth of data points to evaluate and develop new policy. With its typically larger sample size and inherent longitudinal structure, administrative data enables researchers to follow individuals over time and address many critical policy questions. This is the first time that the NUS Department of Economics is partnering the Civil Service College to organise such a conference and we look forward to continuing this exchange of ideas between policymakers and members of academia,” commented Prof Ho Teck Hua.

Dr Jessica Pan, Department of Economics, FASS, chairing the session on Education and Family

Amongst the international speakers present, representatives from the Department of Economics included Dr Wong Wei Kang, who presented his paper on Does an Additional Year of Schooling Improve Skills in Reading, Mathematics and Science? Regression Discontinuity due to Imprecise Control over Birthdates”, which was authored together with Khaw Kaimin, a recent Honours graduate of the Department. The other representative of the Department was Dr Zhang Wei who looked at how quality disclosures affect the behaviour health care providers in “Are Two Report Cards Better than One? The Case of Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery and Patient Scoring”.

Freshmen Orientation 2012 Recorded Webcasts

In order to further familiarise our Freshies with the curriculum, we held a two-day Freshmen Orientation Talk on 31st July & 1st Aug 2012 at LT 11 with live webcast over at LT 12 & 13. These talks gave the participants a better understanding of FASS degree requirements, curriculum information and of CORS bidding as well as a brief overview of the different academic programmes offered by the Faculty. Click here to view the recorded webcasts.


New Alice Goh Scholarship to help support future generations of Social Workers

She was the wife of one of Singapore’s founding fathers, but Madam Alice Goh (1925-2012) preferred to serve as unobtrusively as possible. A social worker for almost 30 years*, Madam Goh, who later separated from her husband Dr Goh Keng Swee, was known as a quiet, steady person and an able administrator who dedicated her life to children’s welfare. Her motto was “Every child is special; every child is God’s gift’. Alice Goh worked ceaselessly towards a better quality of life for her “little ones” and had an abiding interest in social work at various levels throughout her life.

Her giving spirit and sterling values will be bequeathed to a new generation of students with the establishment of the Alice Goh Scholarship at the National University of Singapore’s Department of Social Work at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The endowed Scholarship fund was set up with gifts from Madam Goh’s family, friends and well-wishers. The Scholarship will benefit two deserving students who need financial assistance annually – one Undergraduate student and one Master student – starting from Academic Year 2013/2014.

Social Work students in class

Dr Rosaleen Ow, Head, Department of Social Work, said, “The Alice Goh Scholarship is a timely response to the current need to increase the number of social workers to meet the needs of enhancing social development in the country. It is in tandem with the Singapore government’s support for the training of professional social workers in the social service sector. The Department of Social Work, NUS, continues to play a pivotal role in the training of social workers from its inception in 1952. Many of its graduates have become leaders in the public and social service sectors, including a Past President of Singapore, current and former Members of Parliament and Nominated Members of Parliament as well as senior management in the civil service and statutory boards. The Alice Goh Scholarship will therefore provide significant encouragement to social work students in NUS to excel both in classroom learning and in translating the knowledge towards contributing to the community through practice.”

A pioneer of children’s social centres in Singapore, Madam Goh is remembered as a quiet but popular figure. Ann Wee, a social work veteran who worked with her in the Social Welfare Department, says, “There was nothing arrogant about her. It was always a pleasure to stop by and chat with her. She was also trusted. People would say, ‘It’s alright. That’s being handled by Mrs Goh’.” During her time at the Social Welfare Department, Madam Goh was in charge of childcare centres to tackle, among other responsibilities, the problem of malnutrition among children.

Born in 1925, Madam Goh (née Woon) married Dr Goh in 1942 when she was 17 and he 24. The two met while working at the War Tax Department. For the next 44 years, until their separation in 1986, she supported his illustrious career as he went from Minister of Finance in the first PAP Cabinet (1959-65) to Deputy Prime Minister in 1973.

Applications for the scholarship will begin in June 2013. More information about the Alice Goh Scholarship can be found here.



* Taken from http://www.ncss.org.sg/documents/Rapport%20April%202012.pdf

Thai Art by NUS Students

Second year undergraduate Leong Chao Yang posing with his portrait of Phra Wesuwan, a guardian god in Thai Buddhist cosmology

From now till 16 August, you will be able to see the works of traditional Thai art by NUS students on display at the Central Library.

Aptly entitled “Wijit”—which means “exquisite” in Thai, the exhibition showcases some of the projects produced by the students enrolled in SE3224: Thai Drawing and Painting. The pieces range from intricate gold and black lacquered-style creations to complex scenes from Buddhist literature and Hindu epics.

Possibly the first time a traditional Thai art class is being taught outside Thailand, SE3224 is an undergraduate class offered by the Department of Southeast Asian Studies that teaches students not only the history and cultural meanings of Thai classical art, but also the practice of its artistic production.

Conducted twice in 2011 and 2012, the class taught students how to appreciate the various genres of Thai art (sculpting, architecture, lacquerwork, wood carving and mural painting) and how to draw the complex patterns and forms that make up the core of Thai traditional art heavily influenced by Indian, Chinese and Khmer sources. As the class was only one semester long, the students were only taught the preliminaries of Thai art focusing on the Central Thai style of the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century.

Dr Irving Johnson with Ms Phasporn Sangasubana, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Royal Thai Embassy (centre) and Associate Professor Goh Beng Lan, Head of Southeast Asian Studies Department (right)

In addition, during their semester recess the students were brought on a weeklong fieldtrip to Bangkok and Petchburi to experience Thai art in the palaces and temples. They also visited sites of artistic production, including the Royal Craftsmen Academy (chang sib mu) and the Pok Chang College of Fine Arts, where they mingled with Thai art students and professors and received a first-hand approach to learning Thai art as artists.

As part of their immersion into the world of Thai art, all students were tasked to produce an art piece as part of their final assignment for the class. Many hours were spent copying mural and decorative patterns at two of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples – the Buddhaisawan Chapel and Wat Suwannaram. The pieces displayed in this exhibition represent some of these projects.

On 7 August, the exhibition had an informal opening graced by Ms Phasporn Sangasubana, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Royal Thai Embassy, who was very impressed with the talents of the students.

“I guess this is an ongoing project and the Embassy will be very supportive if [NUS] needs any assistance from us,” Ms Sangasubana said.

Dr Irving Johnson giving an introduction on Thai art.

“For students who have no art background and have never seen Thai art to produce something like this is very impressive,” said Dr Irving Johnson, who teaches the class. He hopes visitors will take their time to experience the exhibition.

“The way to appreciate Thai art is to just look at it. Just stare at it and explore the intricacies of the patterns,“ he said.