FASS Alumni Bond with Faculty on ‘Lo Hei’ Day

FASS alumni, faculty members and staff came together for a Lo Hei lunch on 13 February this year.  The traditional ‘Lo Hei’ ritual, or tossing of the yusheng to invoke Chinese New Year blessings, was led by FASS Dean, Prof Brenda Yeoh.  She gave a presentation on the developments in the faculty, thanked Alumni and friends for their support and invited all to participate in the Faculty’s 85th Anniversary celebrations this year.

Prof Brenda Yeoh (5th from left) tossing yusheng with alumni, friends and faulty: Emeritus Prof Edwin Thumboo, Prof Michael Sherraden, A/P Su Jui-Lung, Mr Wan, Mrs Ann Wee, Dr Rosaleen Ow, Ms Patricia Gay, Mr Yap Boh Tiong and Mrs Patsy Yap
Prof Brenda Yeoh (5th from left) tossing yusheng with alumni, friends and faulty: Emeritus Prof Edwin Thumboo, Prof Michael Sherraden, A/P Su Jui-Lung, Mr Wan, Mrs Ann Wee, Dr Rosaleen Ow, Ms Patricia Gay, Mr Yap Boh Tiong and Mrs Patsy Yap

To kick off this special year, the Sociology Pioneer Class of 1969 brought with them the first-ever class reunion gift for the Department and the Faculty. Alumnus, Mr  Yap Boh Tiong shared that the idea to set up a class bursary fund to commemorate their 45th year of graduation was first mooted when he attended a Homecoming event together with some classmates last year. In less than two months, not only were they able to connect with all of their 53 surviving classmates; more than 75% of the class contributed to the fund with support even coming from Colorado, USA!

Mr Yap Boh Tiong and Ms Patricia Gay representing the Sociology Pioneer Class of 1969 in presenting a cheque to Prof Chua Beng Huat, Head (Sociology), in the company of A/P Victor Savage, Director (Office of Alumni Relations) and Dean, Prof Brenda Yeoh
Mr Yap Boh Tiong and Ms Patricia Gay representing the Sociology Pioneer Class of 1969 in presenting a cheque to Prof Chua Beng Huat, Head (Sociology), in the company of A/P Victor Savage, Director (Office of Alumni Relations) and Dean, Prof Brenda Yeoh

We would like to thank every one who joined us for the Lo Hei and we look forward to seeing you all at the next event!

FASS 2014 Alumni-Student Mentorship & Networking Evening

Dear FASS Students,

Are you curious to find out where your FASS Seniors have gone on to do?

What career options and paths are open to you as a FASS student?

Come join us for the 3rd run of the FASS Alumni-Student Networking Evening, where you would be able to mingle and chat with your FASS seniors from different industries.

See you there!

alumni-student networking evening


<FASS Alumni-Student Networking Evening 2014>

     Click here for the Alumni Profile

‘Fill labour gap with commuters from the delta’

Monday, 24 February 2014

South China Morning Post

This was an interview with Professor Paul Cheung from the Department of Social Work at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In this article, Prof Cheung, who is a Professor of Social Policy and Analytics, NUS and the Chair of the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM), discusses the Hong Kong immigration policy.

Click here to read the full online article.

Graduate Students’ Teaching Award: Reflections by Semester II AY2012-13 winners Anna Filippova and Galvez Victoria Francesca

Learning how to make facts live: a reflection on teaching challenges

Anna Filippova, Department of Communications and New Media

“The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Enough time has passed for me to be able to admit that I was completely terrified when I walked into my first tutorial. My mouth was dry, my hands shook when I put the attendance sheet down and pulled out my materials. Will I remember to tell them everything they need to know this week? Will we have time to talk through all the questions?

The class went smoothly. Everyone’s attendance and participation was recorded. All announcements and introductions were made. The answers were discussed. I walked out feeling like I’d done reasonably well. It was only later that I began to understand this wasn’t going to be good enough.

One day, at the end of class, I got a question I couldn’t immediately answer. We had been discussing social media phenomena, and like all good questions, it started with a “why”. Why is this so? Why indeed?

I don’t know.

I don’t know, but let’s figure it out together.

I read through some academic papers. It was a very good question, and a surprisingly small amount of research was done in the area.

“I don’t know,” I told my student as we discussed the extra material I’ve read. “And many very smart people haven’t figured it out completely yet. Why don’t you give it a go in Honours year?”

I’ve grown to believe that learning, and by extension teaching, is not just about getting through all the facts. Neither is it about having the answer all the time. It is about discovering the tools, some of which are already inside us, that allow us to examine the world around us, form opinions, ask questions and continue to add facts to the body of human knowledge. This for me has been the biggest challenge in teaching so far – supporting this process of self-discovery. How do you give an answer without giving the answer away?

I am sure that everyone who has had the privilege to teach a class has a different way to address this particular challenge. I am equally sure that this is a constantly evolving process. At the moment, context is my tool of choice.

Context helps to answers those difficult “why” questions, like “Why is this important?”. Context highlights how material is relevant to the broader themes of the module. It makes connections to current and familiar events, and helps to understand not only how but why a tool is used.

Context is more facts, but facts that provide perspective.

We live in a time of unique opportunity when facts are so readily available, they may easily overwhelm us. Our real challenge, of course, is to navigate the wealth of information available, and I believe this to be an increasingly important part of teacher-student interactions. Rather than being the keepers and disseminators of knowledge, we are increasingly learning to facilitate the individual knowledge gathering processes of our students.

Now I actively encourage my students to ask me ‘why’ more, and though I may not always have an answer, I try to provide more background and a broader overview that might in turn stimulate more questions. It is my hope that this will contribute not only to learning the facts in our course material, but also in helping the facts come alive and stay with our students beyond their university experience.

And together with my students every semester, I too, am continuing to learn.


Reflections on what makes an exemplary educator

Galvez Victoria Francesca, Department of Sociology

My three years of postgraduate education in the National University of Singapore have been instrumental to my growth and wisdom as an educator. I have had the fortune of observing a range of teachers and teaching styles or methods. In addition, I have had the privilege of tutoring undergraduates of various academic abilities, disciplines, and interests. These three years of ‘participant observation’ – a term that qualitative researchers deploy to refer to an in-depth observation, immersion, and participation in the social milieu of their research subjects – have yielded numerous insights into the teaching profession. They have also enabled me to craft my teaching philosophy, which I will lay out below.

I strongly advocate that a competent educator is an all-rounded individual. Ideally, he should be extremely knowledgeable in his field of study, and is able to work well with his lecturer or module coordinator. Moreover, an effective teacher should be able to deliver a lesson in an effective manner, and cultivate in his students a thirst for knowledge that transcends classroom learning.

An excellent tutor is usually well-versed in his field of study. When I teach a particular topic, I endeavour to acquaint myself with both the foundational and seminal works and authors in the area of concern. Furthermore, I keep abreast of the changes and overall trends in the field. What are the gaps in the current body of research? What are the suggested trajectories for future research? What does the latest research reveal about a given social phenomenon? Thus, I consider the preceding questions to check that my content mastery skills are in tip-top condition.

It is also crucial that I work closely with the lecturer or module coordinator. The lecturer may supplement and build on my content knowledge of a subject. He may consult me when designing the course too. More vitally, I keep in tight contact with the lecturer in order to tease out the overall approach that he employs in the module. What are the overarching messages and learning points that the lecturer desires to convey in the course? What does a bird’s eye view of the module look like, and how do individual topics fit into this aerial orientation?

After a teacher has mastered the relevant content and consulted the lecturer, he needs to seriously contemplate how to convey this stock of knowledge to his students. Lesson delivery techniques are paramount here, and they refer to the skills and process of preparing, breaking down, and delivering a lesson. I frequently ask myself if my lesson has been taught in a clear and succinct manner. Moreover, has my tutorial been ‘student-centric’? Have I catered to and fulfilled my students’ learning wants and needs? Are my students able to grasp my points, and proceed to question, challenge, and embellish them? Also, has the lesson been delivered in an engaging, interactive, and (intellectually) conducive environment? Have I been able to glean pearls of wisdom from my students, even as they learn from me?

Finally, I contend that an exceptional teacher sparks an interest in his students that goes beyond classroom learning. During the process of carving out my role as an educator, I discovered that I have grown much in my academic imagination and my sense of empathy. In a similar vein, I strive to ignite and stretch my students’ sociological imagination and curiosity in their social world and life. I also hope to impart skills – sharp critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills – that serve the students well in their university education. Ultimately, I labour to instil in my students a sense of understanding and appreciation for diverse social groups, issues, and problems. I too, wish to inculcate in my students, a desire to effect social change in their own social milieu. Such change need not be revolutionary or groundbreaking; it suffices that my students seek to alter their world in small but substantive and meaningful ways.

Calling out to aspiring Allied Educators!

MOE will be running a recruitment exercise for the position of Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) for final year undergraduate students and alumni.

There are no restrictions with regard to the GPA eligibility criteria. Application starts on 22 Feb 2014. To apply, please complete the application form at  www.moe.gov.sg/careers/allied-educators/learning-behavioural-support  by 7 March 2014. 

AED brochure

Malaysia in 2014 – a perspective from Singapore

Friday, 21 February 2014

New Mandala

This was an article contribution by Associate Professor Bilveer Singh from the Department of Political Science at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences on Singapore’s relationship with Malaysia. He noted that for Singapore, while Malaysia in 2014 is expected to continue ‘good business as normal’, there are also potential minefields that might explode, and hence, there is a need for caution and added that the relations can never be taken for granted.

Click here to read the full article.