Yale-NUS Inaugural Symposium

There is a surge of interest globally in liberal arts and sciences education. Yale-NUS College in Singapore is one of many new institutions that are inspired by the ideas of the liberal arts education – one where students are educated broadly, with liberal learning in arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Liberal Arts education can free students from rigid specializations and allow them to discover new talents, and to think in new interdisciplinary ways that will prepare them to respond creatively to the challenges of the world. At Yale-NUS College we have launched a global liberal arts initiative that includes meetings on innovative teaching in liberal arts settings, and a database on global liberal arts programs, both within larger universities, and from stand-alone colleges.

Since coming to Yale-NUS College, I have worked closely with the Yale-NUS President and Dean to plan and implement two large international conferences that celebrate the expansion and innovation within liberal arts in Asia and across the world. The two events are the Yale-NUS College campus opening on October 11-12, 2015, and a conference on innovative undergraduate education at Yale University from June 6-9, 2016.  I was the co-PI on a grant from the Teagle Foundation that provides some of the funds for the Yale University event in June 2016, along with additional funding from the Luce Foundation.  Peter Salovey, President of Yale University, greets Tan Chor Chuan, NUS President, the PM of Singapore, and Pericles Lewis, Yale-NUS President at Yale-NUS Campus Opening – October 2015.

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The first of our Global Liberal Arts meetings was on October 11-12 of 2015, when we celebrated the opening of the new Yale-NUS campus in Singapore. This ceremony included a day-long symposium featuring presidents from the best universities and colleges in the world. A partial list of the Presidents coming to the October campus opening include leaders from these institutions:

  • Oxford University
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • New York University
  • Wesleyan University
  • NYU Shanghai
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Wellesley College
  • Pomona College
  • Lingnan University
  • National Taiwan University
  • Chulalongkorn University (Thailand)
  • Seoul National University
  • O.P. Jindal Global University
  • Osaka University
  • University of Delhi
  • Paris Sorbonne
  • Underwood International College,Yonsei University (Korea)
  • Yale University
  • National University of Singapore
  • Vassar College
  • Ashoka University (India)


Here is an account of the Yale-NUS College campus inauguration from October 2015 – from the blog post:

Clearly one of the biggest events from last semester – perhaps of the year – was our official campus inauguration – on October 11 and 12, 2015. We were joined by 40 University Presidents – including those from Yale, Oxford, NYU, Shanghai Jiao Tong, University of Hong Kong, Pomona, Wesleyan, Vassar and many, many others. The Yale Corporation, Richard Levin, the NUS President Chor Chuan, and other supporters of Yale-NUS were all attending, and the energy and support was very gratifying. I spent most of the 2014-15 year helping plan the event with a small task force that included Fiona Soh, Casey Nagy, and Jenifer Raver, and it was wonderful to see it all come together so nicely!  The Public Affairs office had made impeccable arrangements for the various venues and meals, and our program included a full day of talks on Sunday October 11 which explored The Future of International Liberal Education (Andrew Hamilton from Oxford gave a great talk!), and discussed the founding of Yale-NUS College (with a panel that included Richard Levin and Chor Chuan Tan). I had a chance to open up the event with a short 5 minute speech, and also to introduce our President, Pericles Lewis, and help keep the various sessions on time. The NUS President Chor Thuan Tan wrapped up the session with a great talk, and we spent the next day enjoying the spectacle of our campus opening. This included a ceremonial precession of academics into our performance hall, and address from the Prime Minister of Singapore, student dance and music performances, and a series of talks and gift exchanges. The final segment was to dramatize the opening of the campus with a small model on the stage, which led to a wonderful video of the construction of Yale-NUS College (imbedded below). Those of us who have been working so hard on the new Yale-NUS College found the video very inspiring and touching!  It showed the dramatic building of an entire campus in two years, which was paralleled by a similarly rapid construction of a curriculum, and an academic culture. What an exciting weekend – and more such adventures are coming!

Construction of the Yale-NUS College Campus video from inauguration

We will post information and updates on our next event – the Yale University June 6-9, 2016 conference on innovative undergraduate education here as they develop!

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