26 January 2016: Yale-NUS Humanities Divisional Director shares plans for the Humanities Curriculum

Written by Jeannie Tay  | Images by Weave for Yale-NUS College

humanities books (cropped)

As Singapore’s first liberal arts college, starting a curriculum from scratch presented immense challenges, but at the same time, provided Yale-NUS College with opportunities to innovate and achieve the educational mission of the college: to found a community of learning.

Since Yale-NUS College started its first class in 2013, the College has offered a wide spectrum of courses to its students spanning its three broad divisions – Humanities, Science and Social Sciences.

The Humanities Division, which houses majors such as Arts & Humanities, History, Literature, and Philosophy, has exciting plans to enrich the experiences for Yale-NUS students through its innovative arts and humanities offerings. Divisional Director of Humanities, Professor Rajeev S Patke, is excited about the plans, which he hopes will make it possible to develop the all-rounded potential of Yale-NUS students, regardless of their majors.

Rajeev Patke(cropped)

For example, the Division will be launching a new Artist-in-Residence programme soon, which will bring in one local and one overseas arts practitioner, drawn from among the different arts genres (e.g. painters, sculptors, writers, dancers, musicians, etc) to live and work with students and faculty in the College for either a semester or a year. Recognising the value of integrating theory with practice, the Division regularly hires external arts practitioners, such as poet Alvin Pang and animator Yanyun Chen, to lecture at the College on a part-time basis, and impart their practice-based experience to the students. “This is a pragmatic way to bring in outside experts who will complement our academic expertise with practical skills, and integrate the learning with the real world,” says Professor Patke.

Recognising that many learning opportunities take place outside the classroom, Professor Patke feels that it is important to recognise and encourage such learning in order to develop the overall growth of students. To this end, Professor Patke shared the view that the Division is exploring the idea of integrating the co-curricular aspects of student life with the curriculum through awarding academic credits to students taking up artistic projects outside the classroom, such as film, art, or writing projects that students might undertake on their own as part of their interests, for which the College would like to find a co-curricular academic context.

In terms of infrastructure, Professor Patke is confident that the College spaces are well endowed to support the learning of the arts and humanities. For example, spaces such as the Performance Hall and studios are available to students, faculty and art practitioners invited to the College, allowing them to showcase their work to the community, and facilitating interactions between the College community, local and overseas artists and the public. The Division is also looking into having performances and reading sessions recorded, with the aim of eventually showcasing some of these materials on the College website, with the permission of the artists and authors involved, thus extending the reach of what is done in the College to a much wider audience, enabling them to share in the arts experience created at the College with the a wider public. “The vision is to bring all these together as we integrate the practice of the arts into the life of the College,” adds Professor Patke.

To support Yale-NUS’ global curriculum, the Humanities Division also offers a wide range of language courses for students. Through collaboration with NUS and Yale University, the College has expanded the language offerings and introduced online classes for Italian, Russian, and Portuguese, in addition to Chinese, Spanish, Latin, Greek and most recently Arabic, which are all taught on campus. Other developments in the Humanities Division involve the full range of Common Curriculum Courses under the Historical Immersion rubric, as well as the offering of a wider range of electives contributing to the majors in History, Philosophy and Literature.

Yale-NUS offers a distinctive curriculum that emphasises broad-based multi-disciplinary learning across the natural and social sciences, humanities and the arts. Students are exposed to an interdisciplinary inquiry-based curriculum which enables them to master a broad body of knowledge and techniques, taught by a globally diverse faculty of leading educators and researchers.

This story is part of our feature on the three academic divisions at Yale-NUS. To find out more about our Science and Social Sciences curricula, click the links to read the interviews with the respective Divisional Directors.