Singapore’s first liberal arts college outlines innovative Common Curriculum

9 November 2012

The pioneer batch of students at Yale-NUS College can look forward to a unique Common Curriculum when they begin classes in August 2013, the result of innovative and intensive shaping by the inaugural faculty of the new College.

The Yale-NUS Common Curriculum is one part of the curriculum being developed by the inaugural faculty, along with the Majors and a set of elective courses. The Common Curriculum is a set of interconnected courses designed to provide all students with a shared, intensive exploration of themes and topics ranging across all the academic disciplines, from science to the humanities.

Yale-NUS faculty members are spending the year prior to the opening of the new College designing these innovative courses. As work continues on the development of the full curriculum, a more detailed description of the Common Curriculum courses has been made available to potential applicants here.

Says Yale-NUS’ inaugural Dean of Faculty, Professor Charles Bailyn, “The Common Curriculum will provide students with an integrated introduction to the full range of arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences. The wide range of topics, small classes and student-oriented approach is fundamental to our conception of a well-rounded liberal arts education.”

In Scientific Inquiry, for instance, students will focus not on the specific facts that scientists have discovered, but on the process of scientific discovery itself, and when and how it provides reliable information. When studying Literature and Humanities, students will explore mythmaking and storytelling from a variety of traditions, to understand how poets, historians and artists represent their own worlds and times. Other courses will address fundamental questions about society, politics and human behavior. Students will actively participate in discussions, projects and research, and present their results in writing and speech. These activities, rather than end-of-semester examinations, will form the basis of student assessment.

The Common Curriculum, together with the residential college system, is designed to provide Yale-NUS students with a living and learning environment that fosters the ability to analyze, critically reflect, solve problems and communicate. The College will open its doors to the inaugural batch of students in August 2013.