Senior Seminars

As of AY2021/2022, what has characterised a Senior Seminar has been its focus on a significant issue that may be productively discussed from both Asian and global perspectives, and its openness to interdisciplinary 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 Seminar Timetable for AY22/23 Semester 1

View Seminar Timetable for AY22/23 Semester 2

Animals and the City

With a focus on Asia, this course draws on a diverse range of literatures to provide a broad context for understanding the dynamics between humans and animals. Southeast Asia is one of last regions in the world with extensive rain forest habitat for wild animals, but these creatures are threatened by burgeoning urbanization and agriculture. The module will go beyond a focus on wildlife, however, to consider our relationship with ‘urban animals’ of many types. Through seminar-style classes and fieldtrips conducted around Singapore, the module will test new perspectives from international and regional studies of human animal interaction

By Dr Liz Chee

Asia Now! The Archaeology of the Future City

This module concentrates on the Asian built environment – architecture, urban planning and sustainable development. The theme of the archaeology of the future considers the many layers of the city, from examining its past to identifying its already emerging possible urban futures. Discussions and readings that provide in-depth, analytical, and critical perspectives on urbanisation and urbanism in Asia will be supplemented with a field trip to Singapore City Gallery and workshops on Futures Thinking. In particular, students will be taught the Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) methodology to help them think critically and deeply about present trends and the multiplicity of future scenarios. Through Singapore as a case study, students will gain a deeper understanding of challenges facing a rapidly-urbanising Asia, cultivate intellectual tools to evaluate these challenges and embody solutions through a hands-on creative project.

By Dr Margaret Tan

Biomedicine and Singapore Society

This ‘Senior Seminar’ module will consider social and public health issues raised by modern advances in biomedicine, particularly as they affect Singapore and the surrounding region. Merging insights from medicine, social sciences, and the humanities, students will be introduced to problems, conflicts, and debates, and asked to form their own reasoned opinions. The seminar will meet weekly in small groups of 15‐20, with periodic full‐class meetings to hear guest speakers.

By Mr Shamraz Anver, Dr Karish​ma Sachaphibulkij

Climate Change

This ‘Senior Seminar’ module will consider one of the most pressing problems of our time from multiple viewpoints. Merging insights from the sciences and humanities, students will be introduced to problems, conflicts, and debates over the causes of, and solutions to, the phenomenon of global warming and its implications for humanity. The seminar will meet weekly in small groups of 15‐20, with periodic full‐class meetings to hear guest speakers.

By Dr Connor Graham, Mr Lim Cheng Puay

Gaming Life

Games are a fundamental aspect of our everyday lives — they permeate disparate fields of knowledge; involve, and are involved in, the creation of cultural practices; are part of ways of seeing and being in the world; might well be integral to relationships between peoples and the worlds they are a part of. This seminar attempts to meditate on the idea of games to develop an appreciation of gaming in life — with an accent on gaming life. Games, including specific games, are explored in theoretical and practical ways to develop questions involving — interrelating — tekhnē, technologies, cultures, epistemologies, and human communities. Further explorations potentially lead us to gaming cultures, including strategies, tactics, entanglements, addictions, pleasures, desires, délices, jouissances — exploring them in domains such as ‘political’, ‘social’, ‘familial’, ‘academic’, games, amongst many others — with play and praxis being echoes resounding through this seminar. Seminarians will engage in the construction, critique, and creation of games —imagining, and bringing forth, concepts in relation to the worlds in which we live.

By Associate Professor John Phillips, Ms Cera Tan

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 Dr Connor Graham, Mr Shamraz Anver

Knowledge and Expertise

In this seminar, students examine some of the beliefs humans have held about knowledge throughout history, with a particular focus on technological change and the idea of expertise. Through a socio-historical treatment of figures associated with knowledge, students will discuss how experts are created, challenged, and replaced. This module will enable students to critically appreciate various forms of knowledge, analyse and respond to current issues related to expertise, understand the context in which our methods and processes for acquiring knowledge are situated, and assess how they shape individual and collective lives and experiences.

By Dr Connor Graham, Dr Eric Kerr

Negotiating in a Complex World

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 other contextual factors that shape each unique encounter. The rapid advancement in science and technology adds to the challenge of interpreting highly technical, domain‐specific information, which is critical in rationalizing decisions and persuading counterparts. In this module, we adopt a case study approach to dissecting complex negotiations. Students will learn to adopt both a macro and micro perspective in analysing such negotiations.

By Dr Michael Grainger, Dr Kuan Yee Han

Picturing and Seeing Development

This module considers how development is pictured and visualised and, to a lesser extent, textualised through a focus on industries such as finance, information technology, tourism and the creative industries. This visual view on development allows students to develop a critical, conceptual perspective on how development is imagined, performed and carried out in these industries. Through a visual engagement with field sites, the module explores the intersection and interplay between organisations and bureaucracies on one hand and broader societies and collectives on the other. Development is 'seen' through the perspectives of performance, experience, concepts and practice.

**Compulsory overseas trip included as part of the module during Recess Week. More details will be available later**

By Mr Shamraz Anver

Singapore as "Model" City?

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 organization 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.

By Dr Margaret Tan

Technologies and Ageing in Singapore

Singapore population is ageing rapidly and there is a an increasing need to improve the health and social needs of the elderly in Singapore. Technological advancements offer opportunities to impact the lives of our ageing population. What 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 are the technologies required to address the needs of the growing ageing population in the future and how can Singapore develop them?

By Dr Kuan Yee Han

The University Today

What are universities for? A university education was traditionally exclusive to the elites but is increasingly seen as crucial to professionalization and social mobility; democratic citizenship; fostering debate and the pursuit of scientific knowledge. This module examines recent debates chronicling how growing trends of neoliberalism have led to changes in how universities and higher education are viewed. We also examine the confluence of historical, political and social factors that shaped the establishment and development of universities in postcolonial society like Singapore. Students will investigate how universities in Singapore relate with their overseas counterparts and with global trends in higher education.

By Dr Hah Sixian, Dr Fong Yoke Sim

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
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.