Having a formal curriculum is an important facet of our college, but it only encompasses one aspect of education. From the beginning, we've paid as much attention to developing an informal, non-compulsory, 'out of classroom' curriculum creating signature activities defining our college experience. While our dining hall and other spaces within the college provide for many conversations and informal encounters between our students and fellows, this deeper level of engagement requires planning and resources. Thus, a big part of the college experience happens in this 'middle space' between faculty-led seminars and entirely student-led activities (such as clubs, interest groups, and the like). What we have created in this space is true out-of-classroom teaching and learning: structured education-centred experiences designed either by fellows — in areas they are personally interested and invested in — or ideally by fellows together with a group of students with similar interests.
The flagship event of our college — the Tembusu Forum — takes place twice a semester, and is hosted and moderated by our Rector, Professor Tommy Koh. Compelling, important, and occasionally controversial, issues — often suggested by students — are taken up, discussed, and debated by eminent personalities at the forefront of their respective fields. Hearing the different views of experts will help you develop and expand your own thoughts on the crucial issues of the day. The forum is also one of the few of its kind, as all questions to our prominent guests are directed by students, allowing you to hone your public speaking skills.
Over the semester, you’ll be regularly invited to the Master’s Common Lounge, a cozy room on the 3rd floor of the college, to meet and chat with guests — both local and international. Our guest list places a value on diversity and typically includespoliticians, diplomats, artists, writers, poets, scientists, and activists. The only thing we ask of guests is that they bring something interesting to our community. Hosted by the Master of the College, Associate Professor Gregory Clancey, these sessions open the possibility for you to meet, mingle, and hear from our guests in an informal, small-group setting over cake and tea.
Fellow's & Student's Teas
In addition to teas sponsored by the Master, students and fellows alike are able to invite and host peers and guests — anybody they believe can bring something to, and enliven, the college community. Fellows often invite the whole college to have tea with guests they bring to their seminars, while student tea guests have ranged from interesting and successful alumni, to CEOs of start-up businesses, local social activists and entertainment personalities.
Reading pods are opportunities for you to read, discuss, and respond to a book that interests you with a small group of like-minded readers. With students and fellows leading several pods every semester, each is a small and imitate engagement (usually capped at 5 people who come together around a book). Free from the traditional teacher-student model of the classroom, session are collaboratively structured — with the guiding principle being developing rational thoughts through a deep, close, reading of the text.
Echoing the promise of our Rector, Professor Tommy Koh, to bring Tembusu to the World, members of our community are voracious travellers. And not just for vacations and exchange programmes. Some of your seminars in the college entail fieldtrips to various parts of Singapore, as well as a few of our off-shore islands. You can also choose to be a part of the NUS Study Trips for Engagement and Enrichment (STEER), led by our fellows, which have taken members of the college to Komodo Island, Borneo, and various cities in China, amongst other places.
Curios Magazine is a thematic collection of essays, poetry, short stories, photography and illustrations, created and curated by our very own community in Tembusu. We feature works from perspectives of the Tembusu community, which are then interwoven into a critical and intimate examination of society, community, and human experiences. Written and assembled by the people of Tembusu, Curios is intended to encourage our community to think, reflect, and contribute to the college community.
tCambodia is an overseas community service project partnering the Journey of Grace Academy (JOGA) in Siem Reap. JOGA was founded by Tembusu alumni, Winson Lim, who was a Graduate Fellow in the Academic Year 2013/14. JOGA runs on the belief that proficiency in the English language can go a long way in securing jobs for the children, particularly in a tourism-driven city like Siem Reap.
tChamps believes that truly sustainable community development can only be achieved by empowering locals to be the change-makers in their own communities. They are in a partnership with Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF), an NGO dedicated to empowering disadvantaged children through a range of programmes. tChamps members strive to develop leadership and personal skills in order to better mentor Cambodian students for community development projects, in order that they are able to start sustainable community intervention projects within their own communities. Crucially, tChamps advocates thought-leadership in the areas of sustainable and ethical overseas community development, in its stance against voluntourism.
Tembusu Coders bring together those with an interest in building, making, inventing, things through computer science. We aim to create a community of passionate students who build exciting projects to tackle challenging problems. We are also on a mission to increase the interest in technology within the college through our regular programming workshops, as well as tea sessions with distinguished guests.
tFreedom is an LGBTQIA+ affirming community that aims to build a more diverse and inclusive college. We organise events to advocate and educate on matters regarding gender and sexuality, fostering greater awareness and understanding amongst Tembusians on such issues. tFreedom also hosts private gatherings for LGBTQIA+ identifing members to create a safe space for them to freely express themselves. Ultimately, tFreedom aspires to be the pillar of support for LGBTQIA+ Tembusians while actively engaging with the general college community to promote an inclusive residential environment.
tKampung is an overseas community service initiative in Tembusu College that aims to improve the living conditions of villages in less developed countries. Support will be provided through volunteering to create a life-enhancing sustainable environment for local villagers to be more independent and resourceful in different aspects of life. The group aims to impart skills and knowledge that supports livelihood in villages, as well as to engage the volunteers actively in the planning and conducting of the programme with the villagers. The team is working with Firefly Mission (FFM), a registered society in Singapore with focus on the children living in the Shwegyin Yourth Development Centre (YDC), Myanmar. YDC is the home for 160 children aged 3 to 18 years, comprising orphans, and also children from broken/dysfunctional families from the minority tribes.
tMentors is a local community outreach project which works closely with Newtown Secondary School students to help them manage not only their schoolwork, but also their ability to tackle a stressful school environment. Almost all the students in our programme are chosen because they want to do well but don't have the right means to do so. Our mentors are student volunteers from Tembusu College who organise mentoring sessions every weekend. About 20 students are involved as mentors to 20 mentees.
Tembusu Debate Society
The Tembusu Debate Society fosters intellectual engagement among students through discussing current controversies and questions for the college, Singapore, Asia, and at a global level across different platforms. Over the years, the guest panel discussion series, The Elephant in the Room, has supported the debate of issues such as freedom of speech and non-heterosexual rights. In previous years, the Debate Society has supported intellectual engagement across different the colleges in UTown and beyond, by organising the University Town Intercollegiate Provost's Challenge Shield. The Debate Society conducts regular training session in debating skills and techniques, in accordance with the British and Asian Parliamentary formats.
Tembusu Wildlife Association (tWild)
tWild is a community involvement project that incorporates both community service and education aspects towards animal conservation. It aims to increase students’ exposure and awareness of the threats faced by endangered animals, as well as how to mitigate them. One of tWild's initiatives was Tembusu’s “Animal of the Year”, wherein which awareness to the plight of one of the five endangered animals the houses are named after is highlighted. During that year, it is the responsibility of one house to remind the College community of the difficulties facing its namesake species, and educate us — through various activities, and initiatives — on what can be done in order to help in a concrete way. This usually ends with a college-sponsored field trip to encounter the animal in its habitat, along with those individuals, groups, and organizations who are attempting to conserve it.
Treehouse - Tembusu's Online Student Journal
Treehouse is home to a community of writers who are both curious and committed. We bring together individuals who are excited about exploring issues and ideas, both within and beyond the college. Through our writing, we seek to make meaning of our observations, experiences, and interests, and are dedicated to the purpose of deepening the landscape of thought in Tembusu College, by inspiring reflection and conversation among our readers.
The Tembusu Urban Gardens Strategic Project was initiated in 2013 to build sustainable urban food gardens within Tembusu College. In an increasingly dense and urban environment, it is important not to lose touch with nature and to appreciate that food production is a time-consuming process that requires effort and lots of patience. Our urban farmers experiment with different farming systems, such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and traditional soil planting. We bond over farm excursions and tending to the garden at Level 3, which we have christened “Tembusu Misty Garden.” We also hold mini-events on farm-related topics and to share our labour of love.