8 July 2016: Double degree programme in law and liberal arts offers students an interdisciplinary legal education in a liberal arts setting

By Daryl Yang | Image by Weave for Yale-NUS

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On 6 May 2016, Amelia Chew (Class of 2017) argued against the introduction of affirmative action to ensure a minority race president before Singapore’s Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

She was speaking before the Constitutional Commission formed to review the Elected Presidency system in Singapore, which included Mr Eddie Teo, Chairman of the Public Service Commission and Professor Chan Heng Chee, Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design. Professor Chan is also a member of the Yale-NUS College Governing Board.

Amelia is part of a group of four law undergraduates at the National University of Singapore (NUS) invited to present their proposals on aspects of the Elected Presidency. She is also in the pioneer batch of students in the Double Degree Programme (DDP) in Law and Liberal Arts.

Jointly offered by Yale-NUS College and the Faculty of Law at NUS, the double degree programme offers students a broad liberal arts education in addition to their professional training in the law. Students take the Yale-NUS Common Curriculum, including Philosophy & Political Thought and Comparative Social Inquiry, as well as core and elective law modules, such as Law & Society and Introduction to Legal Theory.

The intellectual breadth of the DDP was what appealed to Cephas Tan (Class of 2018) who is currently a legal intern in shipping law with Holman Fenwick Willan – Asialegal LLC.

“Studying certain modules related to philosophy and sociology at Yale-NUS have helped me understand the study of jurisprudence better. I also have a deeper appreciation for the law and its many intersections in other fields,” he shared.

Similarly, Amelia noted that her greatest takeaway from her experience presenting to the Constitutional Committee is “realising that constitutional law in practice takes place at the intersection of law, politics, and policy.”

Many DDP students also make use of their legal knowledge to contribute to the larger community. For instance, Bozy Lu (Class of 2018) has been involved in the Labour Court Research Project since January 2016.

The project is a collaborative effort involving other law students and faculty from NUS and the Singapore Management University as well as volunteers from TWC2, a non-governmental organisation that promotes equitable treatment for migrant workers in Singapore.

“With the analytical skills acquired from Yale-NUS and NUS Law classes, I have been researching on the role that the legal system plays in Singapore, and how this complexity influences employer-employee relationships in the workforce,” explained Bozy.

“This project has challenged me to look beyond the legal aspects of the issue and connect with other disciplines, in order to make the best use of the law as a form of protection, instead of punishment.”

This summer, Melody Lau (Class of 2018) has also taken up a pro bono legal internship at a migrant workers non-governmental organisation, Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).

She shared that the internship has helped her realise that the issues facing migrant workers are ‘extremely complex’.

“It is a political, social, economic and systemic problem on all fronts.”

The DDP is a five-year honours programme and graduates are awarded a Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) degree from Yale-NUS College and a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) degree from NUS Law. Click here for more information on the DDP.