Calling for Facilitators for Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) 2019

(From the organizers)

Hello everyone,

The Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) turns 16 this year!

In line with the Bicentennial Commemoration this year, we will have The Bicentennial Edition of ISPD this year and participants will have the opportunity to explore concepts related to the Bicentennial Commemoration such as Openness, Multiculturalism, Self-determination, Identity, Culture and Progress.

It will be held on 2nd August (Friday), from 1500h to 1900h, in Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary).

The success of ISPD depends on our very helpful facilitators who are able to engage our participants in collaborative rational inquiry. To kick-start our prep for ISPD, please take a minute register yourselves at this link, to let us know that you will be joining us:

More information will be sent closer to the date of the event.

Lastly, if you know of anyone who is Philosophy-trained and is an experienced facilitator, and would like to join us for ISPD, please feel free to forward the above link to them.

We look forward to meeting all of you at our annual gathering and hope to see everyone at ISPD.

ISPD (2018): Knowledge

The Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) is an annual event which the philosophy programs of Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls’ School take turns to organize and host, with the sponsorship of the Department of Philosophy at NUS. Throughout the years, an increasing number of schools have participated in the event. This year, the 15th anniversary of the event, was held at Raffles Institution with 12 schools represented and some 171 secondary level students participating. They were joined by 25 facilitators, many of whom are alumni of the Department of Philosophy at NUS. Our own A/P Loy Hui Chieh gave the keynote address on Plato’s the Ring of Gyges (Republic II).

The theme this year is “Knowledge”, a theme that expresses the aims and ideals of the ISPD – to encourage students from schools all over Singapore to think more deeply about real and current issues we face in Singapore society as well as universal concepts such as fairness and truth. While participants may come away with more questions than answers to the scenarios posed to them, sparking an interest in the issues as well as introducing better ways to navigate difficult topics are definite take-aways that students bring back with them. At the end of the day’s event, 15 students—chosen for the maturity of thought, creativity, metacognitive awareness, and conversational virtues they exhibited during the discussions—were presented with the Gadfly Awards (named in honor of Socrates).

Photos from the event can be seen here.

Calling for Facilitators for Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) 2018

(From the organizers)

Hello everyone,

The Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) turns 15 this year!

It will be held on 13th July (Friday), from 1500h to 1900h, in Raffles Institution.

The success of ISPD depends on our very helpful facilitators who are able to engage our participants in collaborative rational inquiry. NUS Philosophy students who are interested to be facilitators, email organisers, Ng Chong Jin / Ong Shu Juin at:

More information will be sent closer to the date of the event.

Lastly, if you know of anyone who is Philosophy-trained and is an experienced facilitator, and would like to join us for ISPD, please feel free to forward the above link to them.

We look forward to meeting all of you at our annual gathering and hope to see everyone at ISPD.


The Philosophy Party 2017

NUS Philosophy held its fifth annual departmental party–The Philosophy Party–on 5th May 2017. Following last year’s precedence, the event was scheduled for the last day of the exam period. this year’s celebration saw the attendance of around 50 guests including undergraduates and graduate students, alumni, and department staff.

The festivities started with an opening speech filled with personal anecdotes by A/P John Holbo, who spoke of his own philosophical journey and his time in NUS. Dinner lines were opened shortly after, and as with all of our parties, a variety of mouthwatering dishes were provided. This year’s party saw a change in caterer: the party committee went for Peranakan cuisine from Chilli padi. Ranging from servings of authentic laska to kueh dada, each dish was carefully picked out to suit the needs of all our guests.

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Alumni Producer’s Film Wins Sundance Award

Reported in Channel News Asia:

Singaporean filmmaker Kirsten Tan made history on Sunday (Jan 29 ) when her debut feature film POP AYE won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival held in Park City, Utah.

You can read the whole story here. The film in question is “executive-produced by director Anthony Chen under his film company Giraffe Pictures, along with producers Lai Weijie and Huang Wenhong.” Lai Weijie is one of a recent graduate of the department (see also this). Our heartiest congratulations to Weijie and the whole team at Giraffe!

ISPD (2016): Philosophy and Science

4899e4ab-598b-4de9-813c-d50de61a165cFrom data privacy to artificial intelligence, to the ethics of experimentation–today’s scientific and technological advancement confronts core issues about our human identity and values. Against this background, philosophy promises to empower us with clear and critical thinking to make sense of our scientific present and future. That’s why “there’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning!” than to enable teenagers in philosophical discussion about science at the Inter-school Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD), said keynote speaker Assistant Professor Voo Teck Chuan of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics (CBmE), Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

039eb102-dbc2-4711-a208-158b7b8a92b7This year’s ISPD was held at Raffles Girls School (RGS) on July 9. It saw the participation of some 147 students from fourteen secondary schools from across Singapore, joining with scores of facilitators to discuss various topics on philosophy and science. This is the 13th ISPD, and for the first time, the event was jointly organised by the Philosophy Departments of Raffles Girls School and Raffles Institution, with the sponsorship of the Department of Philosophy at NUS.

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The Philosophy Party 2016

P1220766On 6th of May, the Philosophy Department held its annual commencement party for the fourth year running. Timed for the last day of the exam period, this year’s celebration saw the attendance of around 60 guests, comprising of undergraduates and graduate students, alumni, department staff and their families.

Besides being held earlier than in the past, this year’s party broke the mold in other ways too. For one, the party was not held at the usual function room, but by the Waterway on the ground floor of the Shaw Foundation Alumni House. Tables were set amidst the water features and in the large space, creating a more open atmosphere for the participants involved. For another, this was also the first time Yale-NUS students and staff were invited. New faces and places thus formed the undercurrent of this year’s party.

The festivities officially started at 6pm, with guests streaming in around that time. An opening speech was given by our Head of Department, Associate Professor Michael Pelczar, before the dinner lines were opened. At which point the guests tucked into a variety of dishes, ranging from the caterer Rasel’s signature Shepard’s Pie, to servings of authentic laksa and mock prawn for our vegetarian guests. The meal was accompanied with servings of craft beers and ciders, each carefully picked out by our graduate students Wilson and Jeremy. During this time of feasting and drinking, bridges were built across schools years and even generations, as students, alumni, staff and accompanying family conversed and interacted. The sight of graduate students entertaining some of the professors’ children, of undergraduates networking with alumni and of staff catching up on old times, certainly was something to behold.

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Kishore Mahbubani on Studying Philosophy

From Straits Times:

…each time I attended a philosophy class, I would feel sparks going off, metaphorically speaking, in my brain. As a result, I did something impractical. I asked NUS for permission to repeat my second year so that I could major only in philosophy and drop economics and sociology. Fortunately, NUS agreed.

Note: Professor Mahbubani is currently Professor in the Practice of Public Policy and Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He received a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy from the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore) in 1971. You can read more about him here as well.


The Philosophy Party 2015

02They say the third time’s the charm. And it certainly was a charming and merry evening at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House where the third Commencement Party (now renamed the Philosophy Party) was happening on 13th July, on the day of the commencement ceremony for our philosophy students. This year’s party saw roughly 50 guests, comprising of commencing students, honours students, alumni and faculty. The event opened with a speech by A/P John Holbo, peppered with anecdotes of his time at the University of Chicago as a Wittgenstein besotted undergraduate which left the guests chuckling as they made their way towards the buffet lines.

As with last year, we had a fantastic variety of mo01uthwatering dishes, ranging from Thai Green Curry with Vegetables, to Indonesian Butter Chicken and of course, the top favourite, Shepherd’s Pie—all to be washed down with a handpicked selection of craft beers, graciously sponsored by several faculty members. During the long interlude between the event’s opening and our next programme, students, professors, alumni took the chance to catch up and regale each other with tales (and woes) of studying philosophy. It was a wonderful time for easy but meaningful conversation, and the long interludes facilitated what was ultimately an evening of great company amongst friends, over good food and drink.

04After dinner, Shang Long, delivered a short but entertaining speech on behalf of the graduating class. Dosed with a generous helping of his own anecdotes from his days as an honours student in the Philosophy department, it sent the crowd laughing heartily in unison at his tales of mischief, and left them fondly reminiscing about their own experiences of their time as students in the department. Following that, A/P Loy Hui Chieh encouraged all present to participate in NUSgiving, emphasizing the importance of giving back to help needy students.

This year’s party is organized by a group of our own students from the Philosophy Interest Group. They put just about everything together–from selecting the menu, to the decorations, to sending out the invitations and reminders; and not to mention acquiring the beer. Their efforts were greatly appreciated by all present. One member, Si-En (a philosophy major), designed this year’s party logo, which was also placed on our commemorative doorgift, a double-walled plastic tumbler. The tumbler’s insert bore the tagline “You can never attend the same party twice”—a small tribute to the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus. Both the tagline and design were well-received by the guests. The graduating class, received in addition a LiNUS lion plushie, kindly sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations: a cuddly reminder of their years in NUS.

05With the evening drawing to a close, the event ended with a group photo and a few words by A/P Loy, where he’d mentioned that he’d hoped to see our guests again for next year’s party. That our guests began to file out of the room reluctantly, moving to linger instead just outside the venue of the event whilst continuing to chat merrily, is, perhaps, symbolic of the success of the night’s event as a time for good food and drink, and even better company.


(You can see more photos from the event on this Facebook album.)

(Prepared by Ms. Rachael Yap, with input from A/P Loy)

ISPD:SG50 Edition

ISPD Poster_with NUS110 SG50 Gadfly logos_11 JulyOn Saturday 11 July, 2015, students from 19 different secondary schools gathered in Raffles Institution for the 12th annual Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD). The ISPD is a yearly event organized by the RI Philosophy Department where secondary students meet to engage each other in interesting discussions. The aim of the event is to provide students with a platform from which to practice their critical thinking, analysis and presentation skills—and for them to experience how fun and engaging philosophical discussion can be.

After a keynote address, participating students were organized into small groups according to their allocated discussion topics. Guided by their facilitators, participants of the dialogue were given a valuable opportunity to engage with difficult philosophical issues. The most outstanding student in each group—the one that displays the virtues of a probing and charitable inquirer—was awarded the “Gadfly Award”.

ISPD 2015 is especially interesting and noteworthy because it coincides with SG50. In keeping with the spirit of 2015-07-11 08.59.44SG50, Mr Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, co-author of Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus, was invited to be its keynote speaker. Mr Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh gave an engaging and thought-provoking keynote address on the topic of “Challenging the Singapore Consensus”. Furthermore, the thought experiments provided as discussion topics—all of which suggests questions in the area of ethics and politics—were also crafted for their relevance to ideas about nationhood, citizenship, governance and other societal issues.

ISPD 2015: SG50 Edition was extremely well-received by participants, facilitators and organizers alike. While many of the secondary schools represented have been attending ISPD in previous years, five schools joined for the very first time. The overwhelming consensus by the facilitators was that the level of discussion and the maturity of thought displayed by the participants were impressive and went beyond their expectations.

IMG_2175This year, as part of SG50 and NUS 110 celebrations, National University of Singapore is the main sponsor of the event through the Department of Philosophy. The Deputy Head of Department, Associate Professor Loy Hui-Chieh worked tirelessly with the event organizers, Ms Kristie Chen and Mr Ng Chong Jin to ensure the smooth running and success of the event, both of whom are alumni members of the NUS Philosophy Department. Further representing the start of a collaborative relationship between the Philosophy Departments of NUS and RI, Mr Huang Yuhuai, a graduating student of the Department, was also responsible for crafting the thought experiments used in the discussion as part of his internship with Raffles Institution. As with previous years, the vast majority of the facilitators who led the small group discussions are also current undergraduates, graduate students, as well as alumni members of the NUS Philosophy Department, making the event a veritable alumni gathering of the Philosophy Department.

2015-07-11 08.55.332015-07-11 10.52.402015-07-11 10.56.082015-07-11 11.11.542015-07-11 11.44.03IMG_2154

(Prepared by Mr. Wilson Lee and Mr. Jeremy Huang, with additional input from A/P Loy and Mr. Ng Chong Jin)