Senior Seminars

What characterises a Senior Seminar is its focus on a significant issue that may be productively discussed from both Asian and global perspectives, and its openness to multi-disciplinary debates and input.

Small-group discussions, facilitated by fellows from diverse backgrounds, are at the heart of the Senior Seminar. These are complemented by interactive sessions with guest speakers with deep expertise on pertinent aspects of the seminar topic. The overall aim of these seminars is to foster critical engagement with a topical Global-Asia issue that exerts a profound impact on society. These modules do not have final exams.

View Timetable for AY17/18 Semester 2

Gaming Life

This module explores the idea of ‘the game’ with an emphasis on gaming in life. Games are explored in both theoretical and practical ways particular to social form. Questioning where games interrelate technology, culture, and human community is a central feature. This is supported by a practical exploration of gaming as individual and group experiences.

By Dr. Adam Groves, Dr. Jeremy Fernando

Technologies and Ageing in Singapore

With a rapid growth in ageing population, technological advancements offer opportunities to impact the lives of the elderly in Singapore. There is an increasing need to improve the health and social needs of the ageing population. In what ways can we do to help the elderly achieve a sense of worth, confidence and productivity? How do technologies empower and disempower the elderly to have a stronger connection to their community and improved social life? What kind of technologies are required to address the needs of the growing ageing population in the future and how can Singapore develop them? 

By Dr. Kuan Yee Han, Dr. Kelvin Pang

Time and Life

There are few things that impact our lives as much as our sense of time. Singapore is a 'fast-paced' city where deadlines, time-saving apps and fertility clocks shape people's actions and experiences, and where many feel 'time poor', even if they are cash rich. In this module, we examine the ways in which we take time for granted through analysing the ways in which our lives are temporally grounded. We do so particularly through tracing connections between individual experience, social life and technologies such as clocks and watches, electric lighting and the internet. Is time-stress inevitable in this day and age? What does it mean to use one's time well?

By Dr. Céline Coderey, Dr. Catelijne Coopmans, Mrs. May McAllister, Dr. Eric Kerr, Ms. Sorelle Henricus

Singapore as "Model" City?

Singapore: A 'global city', a 'city in a garden', a 'city of 6.9 million' ... what do these and other models say about Singapore and its relationship to its past and future? This course facilitates critical and multi-disciplinary engagement with the imagination and organisation of Singapore as city. Students will examine visible aspects of the urban environment together with what is (treated as) invisible, and explore what is at stake in meeting Singapore's ambition within its borders and beyond. The module culminates in a project that allows students to situate ideals of the liveable, sustainable, inclusive, etc. city in particular urban sites. The anchor for the module is an 'intervention project' connected to research conducted at the Singapore-ETH Centre's Future Cities Laboratory (FCL). In groups, students will engage with a particular site or situation in the urban environment and then design and document an intervention project that brings ideals of a liveable city in relation to realities and concerns on the ground.

By Dr. Jeremy Fernando, Dr. Margaret Tan, Dr. Tatjana Todorovic

Climate Change

Climate change is invariably a human problem in all its dimensions. Drawing on perspectives from the sciences and the social sciences, this module addresses the following questions: How have human practices radically changed the biosphere? How do policy makers propose to 'manage' the atmosphere? How do we expect human lives to change over the next 100 years? Does climate change as a problem change how people understand global society? Or how they understand the future? Overall, the seminar will demonstrate how human practices are rapidly changing the earth as a planet and as a home.

By Dr. Connor Graham

Negotiating in a Complex World

"No two negotiations are identical because each negotiation has its own agenda, its challenges and complexities, its cast of negotiators, its tone and momentum." – Prof Tommy Koh

We live in a world where complex negotiations take place daily. Navigating these complex negotiations requires one to be conscious of the psychological, historical, sociological, economical, and contextual factors that shape each unique encounter. What is more, rapid advancements in science and technology add the need to interpret highly technical, domain-specific information, which is critical in rationalizing decisions and persuading counterparts. In this module, we use a case study approach to dissect complex negotiations, equipping students to adopt both a macro and micro perspective in making sense of such negotiations.

By Dr. Kuan Yee Han, Dr. Kelvin Pang

Intelligence and Singapore Society

This module invites students to probe the concept of 'intelligence' in relation to Singapore's ongoing development as a nation. The idea that smart minds are essential for survival has shaped domestic policies and international positioning strategies. We ask: in what ways has human intelligence been defined, measured and harnessed? What counts as intelligence, and what does not? Beyond notions of intelligence centred on the human individual, we will also consider forms of collective and artificial intelligence, mediated by science and technology. What kinds of intelligence are needed for the future and how can Singapore develop them?

By Mr. Shamraz Anver, Dr. Adam Groves, Dr. Jeremy Fernando, Ms. Sorelle Henricus

Biomedicine and Singapore Society

At the intersection of biomedicine and society, we find a pertinent question: What does it mean to live well? Grounded in Singapore-based examples and realities, this module explores different perspectives on "living well" and the role of biomedicine in it. Students examine how these perspectives play out in, for example, healthcare policies, health-seeking behaviour, care standards and practices, scientific research and technological innovation, and ethical discussions. Developing their own case studies on topics such as end-of-life decision-making, palliative care, cancer, obesity, dementia and mental health, a key analytical skill students will develop in this module is to identify tensions, controversies, paradoxes, dilemmas or complex choices that underlie our thinking about biomedicine in order to promote a good life for individuals, families and the larger collective.

By Mr. Shamraz Anver, Dr. Catelijne Coopmans, Dr. Adam Groves, Assoc. Prof. Prakash Hande, Assoc. Prof. Lina Lim, Dr. Karen McNamara

Technology and the Fate of Knowledge

In a recent cover story, The Atlantic magazine asked:"Is Google Making Us Stupid?". Increasingly, technology is changing how we learn and what we learn, as well as how we define and access knowledge, evidence, and information. In this Senior Seminar we look at how the concept of knowledge and its meaning have been shaped over time by the kinds of technology we have developed. While much of the module looks at recent innovations in big data, human-machine interaction, engineering, and the internet, our discussion will take place against a historical, cross-cultural, and even cross-species backdrop. The module enables students to critically engage with different forms of knowledge, and to experience the effects of translating knowledge and information from one medium to another: essential skills in our ever more complex knowledge societies.

By Dr. Eric Kerr
The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.