IARU Global Summer Programme 2018



NUS2 - Asia Now! The Archaeology of the Future City 
(UTC2109 / UTS2109 / GEM2909X)

25 June 2018 - 20 July 2018
Hosted by Tembusu College, NUS

According to the UN 2014 Revision on World Urbanisation Prospects, over half of the world’s population today live in urban areas, of which 53 percent are concentrated in Asia. The global urban population is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050, with nearly 90 percent of the growth taking place in Africa and Asia. What are the cultural, economic, political, and social forces shaping urban development in Asia? How are cities in this region managing the challenges associated with rapid urbanisation and working towards innovative, sustainable and liveable solutions?

This module draws from the Singapore setting and comparative studies to uncover the dynamics and meanings of interrelationships between society and the built environment of cities in Asia.  The theme on the archaeology of the future invites us to examine the many layers of the city to not only find elements of its past, but to also identify possible urban futures that are already emerging. Discussions and readings that provide in-depth, analytical, critical, and alternative perspectives on urbanisation and urbanism in Asia will be interspersed with field trips in Singapore, one of the world’s most urbanised cities. These sessions will be supplemented with talks by prominent policy-makers, scholars and activists, as well as a workshop on Futures Thinking for a Sustainable Future. Students will come away from the module with a deeper understanding of challenges facing a rapidly-urbanising Asia, and will gain tools to evaluate solutions being worked out in Singapore and elsewhere in the region.

Field Trip

There will be three field trips to examine the challenges and innovative solutions unfolding in Singapore with regards to sustainable public housing, water management, food production and the Smart Nation initiative.  In addition, there will be a workshop on Futures Thinking for a Sustainable Future conducted by the Sustainable Living Lab.

All trips and the workshop above are at no extra cost to the students.

Target Audience

Bachelor students.

This course is designed with undergraduates in-mind. Nonetheless, graduate students are welcome to take this course on a non-credit basis.


This programme is open to students from participating residential colleges/universities, regardless of academic majors.

NUS undergraduates should have a minimum CAP of 3.0 on a 5-point scale.

Non-NUS students will be assessed based on recruitment criteria and procedures administered by each participating residential college/university in consultation with Tembusu College, NUS.

There is no requirement to have prior background in Asia, Asian Studies, and Urban Studies. The course will be conducted in English and students should be prepared to work in groups, across different disciplines.

Delivery Method

The course will be seminar-based with writing and presentation components. Seminars, readings and assignments will also be in conjunction with the field trips, talks and workshop.

Students are expected to:

  1. Attend all seminars, talks, field trips and the workshop.
  2. Be sufficiently prepared and actively participate in the above by attending to the assigned readings ahead of time.
  3. Bring their own background knowledge, skills and creativity to strengthen, enrich and enliven discussions, their project and presentation.

Learning Outcomes

Students are expected to learn how to:

  1. Examine the issues of contemporary Asian cities in relation to projecting future possibilities.
  2. Recognise the cultural, economic, political, and social forces in urban development and possibilities to interpret them in urban planning.
  3. Discuss social, cultural, and environmental problems in the city and their relationships with social structure and agency.
  4. Critically assess development concepts and theories related to cities and urbanisation.

More generally, students should develop skills in:

  1. Relating theories, concepts and policies with observations of everyday situations and creative practice.
  2. Communicating theoretical reflections, observations and research results clearly and effectively in writing and presentations.
  3. Engaging with local experts, residents, and their peers in thoughtful and respectful ways.


General Class Participation

This includes attendance, active participation in discussions with other students, facilitators and guests.


Group Presentation on Futures Thinking for a Sustainable Future Project

Students will work in interdisciplinary groups for the Futures Thinking for a Sustainable Future workshop. The week after the workshop, they will present their idea, prototype and learning journey to the whole class.


Critical Reflections

Two reflections (500-800 words) on any of the field trips and talks.


Individual Essay

A 3000-word essay on one or more topics covered in the course. Students are required to submit their essay topic to their lecturer for approval at least one week before its due date. 


Credits equivalent at host university & contact hours

4 NUS Modular Credits (Equivalent to 3-credit hour course under the North American credits or 6 ECTS under the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System.)

36 hours (seminars and talks) + 28 hours (field trips and workshop) for a total of 64 contact hours (excluding self-study)

Lecturer(s) / Tutor(s)

Dr Margaret Tan (Lecturer & Coordinator)

Dr Tatjana Todorovic (Lecturer)


Students will stay on campus in 6-bedroom suites at Tembusu College, NUS University Town. Each bedroom comes furnished, and is equipped with air-conditioning and internet access, while the suite has a common living area with a dining table, sofas and shower facilities.  In addition, there are shared facilities within the building such as kitchenettes, laundry rooms and student lounges to create a living environment that encourages social, educational and cultural interaction. Tembusu College is also located within walking proximity to classrooms, study clusters and sports facilities, as well as a wide array of dining and retail options on-campus.

Additional information:

Students must arrive by 24 June 2018 and check-out by 21 July 2018. If students require early check-in before 24 June 2018, rooms may be available at additional cost. Check-out is compulsory on 21 July 2018. While students will not be able to extend their stay at NUS, they are encouraged to travel further in Singapore and the region before and/or after the course.

Estimated Costs in Local Currency

*Tuition fees: SGD 1,482.50

Mandatory Miscellaneous Fees: Approximately SGD 70 (payable by all exchange & non-exchange international students. Cost subject to change.)

*Accommodation including any deposits: Estimated SGD 840 (for 27 nights’ on-campus accommodation)

Field Trip and Workshop Fees: Included in tuition fee

Estimated Textbook Costs: N/A

Estimated Living Expenses: SGD 600–800 (for on-campus meals over 4 weeks and does not include personal expenses such as toiletries, clothing, groceries, entertainment etc.)

Estimated Local Transportation Costs: SGD 100–150 (based on 4 weeks travel by public buses/ trains only)

*Tembusu College students will receive a 50% discount for tuition fees and the cost of accommodation

Required and/or Recommended Insurance(s)

Travel insurance and medical insurance from student’s Home Country recommended for international students.


Please contact the following:

  1. For academic-related matters: 
    Dr Margaret Tan – marge@nus.edu.sg

  2. For housing and payment matters:
    Mr Foo Junhong – rctfj@nus.edu.sg 
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.