Starting Out as a (Successful) University Teacher

An academic workshop for FASS graduate students titled “Starting Out as a (Successful) University Teacher” was organised as part of the Teaching Assistants Programme (TAP) last September 2012 . During the session, Prof Hay highlighted the attributes of a successful university teacher, and also shared with participants useful strategies they could use to make a good start in their teaching, as well as identify barriers which they might encounter as fledgling educators. Prof Hay is currently a Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Geography at Flinders University, South Australia and since 2009, the Australian Teaching and Learning Council’s (ALTC) Discipline Scholar for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. He has contributed extensively to projects which enhance the scholarship of higher education teaching and learning in Australia, and has received several awards for his commitment to promoting scholarly and creative teaching in his discipline, including the Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year in 2006 and the 2010 inaugural Association of American Geographers’ E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Award.

Prof Shirlena Huang, Vice Dean of FASS Graduate Studies (4th from left), seen here with Prof Hay (centre) with her graduate students.

FASS Polytechnic Admissions Talk – 24 April 2013

This year’s Polytechnic Admissions Talk had over a 100 students gathered at LT9 to attend a presentation and talks by the Vice-Dean (Undergraduate Studies) and professors from various departments. This was followed by students engaging in conversation with professors, while enjoying a sumptuous buffet lunch. For those who have missed this talk, you may refer to the links below to view the slides that were presented:

For the video, please click here .


Team led by NUS researchers advocates a simple, affordable and accurate technology to identify threats from sea-level rise




Potential for method to be used within a network of wetland monitoring programmes in Southeast Asia and globally for assessing shoreline security and stability

Singapore, 25 April 2013 – A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Edward L. Webb of the National University of Singapore (NUS) is calling for the global adoption of a method to identify areas that are vulnerable to sea-level rise. The method, which utilises a simple, low-cost tool, is financially and technically accessible to every country with coastal wet­lands. The team seeks to establish a network to coordinate the standardisation and management of the data, as well as to provide a platform for collaboration.

The findings were first published in the journal Nature Climate Change on 25 April 2013.

Threat of rising sea levels

Sea levels worldwide have been rising, and existing models suggest that up to 20 per cent of global coastal wetlands may disappear as a result of sea-level rise by the 2080s, effectively drowned by rising ocean levels. The trend, linked to global warming, could lead to massive economic and societal costs through increased vulnerability to extreme events, such as cyclones and tsunamis. It could also put millions of coastal inhabitants at greater risk from the loss of direct and indirect ecosystem services that support livelihoods, as well as protect and stabilise shorelines.

Method to address coastal wetland vulnerability

Recognising that some wetlands may be able to keep up with sea-level rise, the research team argues that scientists must quantitatively evaluate which wetlands may persist in the future, and which may be most threatened by sea-level rise.

Although the science behind the tracking of sea-level is well-advanced, a large gap exists in the measurement of the biophysical processes underlying the vertical movement of coastal wetlands, so it remains unknown which coastal wetlands will be most vulnerable to future sea-level rise. Collection of relevant data across global wetlands is critical to informing not only local policies, but to generating more realistic regional-level predictions to inform costal management and policy.

In a bid to address this gap, the research team, comprising members from NUS and the United States Geological Survey, argues for the widespread adoption of a standardised, simple and inexpensive method to measure the vertical movement of coastal wetland surface and its constituent processes that determine whether a wetland can keep pace with sea-level rise. The method utilises a rod surface elevation table (RSET), in which a benchmark rod is drilled vertically through the soil down to the base of the mudflat. A portable horizontal arm is attached at a fixed point to measure the distance to the substrate surface. The RSET is thus a permanent reference point to measure the rate and direction of the mudflat’s surface movement.

RSET set-up and measurements (Photo credit: US Geological Survey)

This very simple and affordable tool can be extensively replicated, thereby providing critical data on the geomorphological processes contributing to the surface elevation change at a site. The data can then be used to make inferences about a site’s long-term vulnerability to sea-level rise.

Assoc Prof Webb of the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science explained, “This method differs from other existing methods, such as airborne imaging, because it has higher resolution whereby very small changes in surface elevation can be measured with high accuracy. Furthermore, it is able to quantify the major processes leading to surface elevation change. It is also very cheap to install and maintain so many RSET stations can be established at a single site and across many coastal wetlands.”

Elaborating on the ease of collecting and sharing data, Assoc Prof Webb said, “Data collection requires a level of expertise already present in most governmental departments and non-governmental agencies and the data are amenable to cross-site and regional comparisons, providing that appropriate geodetic references are also available. Essentially, it’s cheap, easy, very accurate, and empowers every country to monitor their own wetlands and become an equal partner in regional coastal wetland conservation.”

Coastal monitoring network in Singapore and the region

Given the low cost of deployment and monitoring, the team argues that the method provides critical data that will benefit coastal conservation. As a part of their research, the team explored the potential for their method to be used as a central data collection for a large network of wetland monitoring programmes within Southeast Asia and globally.

Assistant Professor Daniel Friess of the Department of Geography at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, who is the second author of the paper, has installed initial RSET monitoring stations in Singapore and Thailand with support from the Singapore-Delft Water Alliance. Other co-authors from the US Geological Survey have also installed several RSETs in the Asia-Pacific region.

The team envisions a trend of expanded coastal monitoring in the South and Southeast regions of Asia, and they aim to have Singapore and NUS as a leading partner in evaluating coastal vulnerability in the region.

About National University of Singapore (NUS)

A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 23 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner in Singapore’s 5th RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

For more information, please visit



The Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Competition 2013 (Poetry)

Enter your original unpublished poetry in The Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Competition 2013 (Poetry) now and stand to win!

1st Prize:              $10,000

2nd Prize:            $6,000

3rd Prize:             $4000

The biennial Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Prize is a gift from Dr Sylvia Goh to NUS in memory and recognition of her late husband Goh Sin Tub, one of Singapore’s best-known writers. The Competition is open to all members of the NUS community.  The closing date for receipt of entries is at 5pm on 30 August 2013.

Click here for details of the competition and the official registration form. Enquiries can be sent to Angeline (

FASS’ IPSA-NUS Summer School 2013

The National University of Singapore‘s Department of Political Science is proud to announce the 2nd Annual IPSA-NUS Summer School for Social Science Research Methods, July 8-19, 2013. The Summer School is organised in cooperation with the International Political Science Association. IPSA’s mission is to promote empirical research in political science and related disciplines around the world, and the IPSA-NUS Methods Summer School forms the Asian-Pacific hub in a global network of methods schools, with other summer schools hosted at the University of São Paulo and the University of Stellenbosch.

This is the second annual Summer School, and this year, several basic and advanced courses have been added to our roster, such as Applied Data Analysis, Causal Inference, and Game Theory. More information about the various courses on offer, testimonials from last years’ participants, as well as details on financial aid can be found on our website:

FASS Mentorship Programme 2013 – Applications Open Now!

Not sure about your career choices, which jobs fit you, how to prepare for your dream job or what it entails?  Let an FASS alumnus be your guide and helping hand to answer your queries about the working world.

In the words of a former mentee –

“I was truly privileged in that my FASS mentorship experience was in many ways no less than an internship experience! My mentor provided opportunities for me to get “hands-on” experience and an insider’s perspective on the tourism sector. As a student with various other school commitments, I also benefited tremendously from the flexibility the program offered in terms of arranging meetings with my mentor. During these meetings, my mentor candidly related personal experiences for me to learn from and readily addressed the many questions I had for him. I am certain that the FASS mentorship experience will prove to be a crucial first step I took closer to graduation, and in preparation for embarking on my career path. It has also been memorable in that it accorded me an invaluable learning experience outside of NUS.” Sarabjeet Singh (Geography Major)

Please APPLY HERE by 28 April 2013.

If you have any queries, please write to

FASS Alumni Dinner at University Town

Joined by over 50 guests, Professor Brenda Yeoh (Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) hosted the second FASS Alumni Dinner and walking tour at University Town on 21 March 2013.

With the completion of the Stephen Riady Centre, eight FASS undergraduates walked the alumni visitors through the centre as well as Educational Resource Centre and the residential colleges. The alum marveled at the beautiful architecture and impressive sports and social amenities.

Ms Sandra Buenaventura (B Soc Sci (Hons) Political Science 1975) shared her views on the new campus: “We were green with envy with the amenities and accommodation provided at UTown. We never had a 24-hours Starbucks, Sakae Sushi and a quaint Italian restaurant. We only had the 10pm push cart pau man; the sarabat stalls at Adam Road Hawker Centre, the Tuesday pasar malam at Kheam Hock road apart from of course the canteen, Union house and the hall food.”

The alumni also enjoyed dinner at Sapore Italiano, catching up with old friends and making new ones as well.  It was a good opportunity to reminisce on the past. As Mr Sunit Singh (MA English Studies 2004) mentioned, “Attending the dinner brought back memories and I certainly would love to be a student now given what NUS has become.”

Entertainment for the evening was provided by a magician, a FASS alumnus no less, Mr Alexander Yuen (B Soc Sci (Hons) Psychology 2012). The dinner ended on a high note with many of the alum expressing a desire to return to reconnect with friends and faculty members, and revel in the ‘good old days’.

[FASS hopes to invite alumni to a tour/dinner at UTown each semester. Please contact if you are interested to visit]

Japanese Studies alum
FASS Dean, Prof Brenda Yeoh (first from left) with Psychology alum
The walking tour around U-Town
Our FASS Student Tour Guides

The alum were well-entertained by our own FASS Magician

 Original Quotes

“Attending the dinner certainly brought back memories but I certainly would love to be a student now given what NUS has become.”   – Sunit Singh (English Studies Class of 2004).

“There is a misconception that FASS Alumni activities are occasions to solicit donations and support for the Faculty. Neither are they just nostalgic trips down memory lane. I brought two former varsity classmates to the FASS Alumni Dinner on March 21st. They were pleasantly surprised.

The dinner like all other alumni activities provided us with an opportunity to meet new friends and reconnect with long – lost varsity acquaintances. We shared our experiences with younger graduates and also learnt from them the new challenges that young graduates face these days. These networking and sharing sessions are indeed invaluable for personal and professional growth.

We were green with envy with the amenities and accommodation provided at U town. We never had a 24 – hour Starbuck, Sakae Sushi and a quaint Italian restaurant. We only had the 10pm. push cart pau man, the sarabat stalls at Adam Road Hawker centre, the Tuesday pasar malam at Kheam Hock road apart from of course the non-hostelite canteen, Union house and the hall food.” – Sandra Buenaventura (From the History, Geography and Political Science Class of 1974 and Political Science Class of 1975)

Dr. Lim Wee Hun Stephen elected to International TOP 100 EDUCATORS 2013

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences extends the warmest congratulations to Dr. Lim Wee Hun Stephen who has, on 22nd March 2013, been named by the International Biographical Centre (IBC) as a member of the TOP 100 EDUCATORS 2013.

A citation abstract of Dr. Lim’s nomination by the IBC Director General is reproduced below:

“As a noted and eminent professional in the field of education you have now been considered and nominated for recognition by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England. Of the many thousands of biographies from a wide variety of sources investigated by the research and editorial departments of the IBC, a select few are those of individuals who, in our belief, have made a significant contribution in their field to engender influence on a local, national or international basis. Ratification of your nomination by the Awards Board is now complete and it is therefore my great honour to name you as a member of the IBC TOP 100 EDUCATORS 2013. In any one year only one hundred of the world’s best educators, both famous and uncelebrated, from all disciplines will be elected. These are people whose daily work makes a difference. As a holder of this distinction, you can be gratified that your work has not only been noticed but recognized as outstanding.”

Congratulations, Dr. Lim, on receiving this international recognition!

Invitation to a Joint Event between OAR and The China Society – Lecture Presentations by Prof Michel Hockx

Lecture by Prof Michel Hockx, Professor of Chinese, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Date: 9 April 2013, Tuesday

Time: 6.00pm

Venue: Auditorium @ Shaw Foundation Alumni House

*All guests are invited to a buffet reception at 6pm before the start of lecture.

Organised by The China Society, Singapore and the Office of Alumni Relations

Please refer to the attached for more information and registration.

All are welcome!

Canadian Film Forum 2013

You are cordially invited to the Canadian Film Forum 2013! This is the 3rd consecutive year of partnership between the High Commission of Canada and the NUS Office of Alumni Relations that aims to bring the best of Canadian films to the NUS community. Head over to our website for more information about the selected films & registration.

*Do note that the tickets will be allocated on a first come-first served-basis. Due to limited seating, a confirmation email will only be sent to you after the registration has closed on 1 April 2013 to confirm your booking.

So hurry on to to reserve your seats!