Yale-NUS College welcomes two distinguished scholars as named professors

11 November 2015

Scholar of comparative religion Gavin Flood and anthropologist Nicole Constable named as Yap Kim Hao Professor of Comparative Religious Studies and J Y Pillay Professor

Two distinguished scholars in their respective fields of comparative religious studies and anthropology have joined Yale-NUS College as named professors, augmenting the College’s talent pool of leading educators and researchers.

Yap Kim Hao Professor of Comparative Religious Studies

An internationally acclaimed scholar of comparative religion, Professor Gavin Flood, has been named the inaugural Yap Kim Hao Professor of Comparative Religious Studies. Prior to joining the College, Professor Flood was a Professor of Comparative Religion and Hindu Studies, at the Theology Faculty, University of Oxford. He is presently a Senior Research Fellow at Campion Hall, Oxford and was the Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Professor Flood is an elected Fellow of the British Academy, an honour conferred to those who have attained distinction in the study of the humanities and social sciences in the UK. His research interests span South Asian traditions, especially Hinduism. Recent books written by Professor Flood include The Truth Within: A Comparative History of Inwardness in Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, and The Importance of Religion: Action and Meaning in our Strange World.

As part of the College’s faculty, Professor Flood will enhance Yale-NUS’ teaching and research capacity in comparative religion, which is a crucial component of the College’s global curriculum for the 21st century. Professor Flood’s work on Hinduism is particularly relevant to Singapore and the region, which have substantial Hindu communities.

Named after Reverend Doctor Yap Kim Hao, former Vice-President of the Inter-Religious Organisation (Singapore), who has been actively promoting inter-faith dialogue and understanding in Singapore since 1949, the Yap Kim Hao Professorship in Comparative Religious Studies is aimed at enhancing the academic study of religions at the College. Focusing on the multiple religious beliefs, practices and experiences in today’s world, the study of Comparative Religious Studies is a crucial component of the College’s broad based learning approach, where faculty and students are encouraged to conduct scholarship and research on a wide range of topics. A spirit of open inquiry and respectful sharing, learning and exchange of ideas are an important part of the education at Yale-NUS.

“I am delighted to be joining the Yale-NUS community and very much look forward to the new challenges ahead. Religions have been central to the development of humanity and world civilizations and their academic study is crucial to understanding global cultures and the challenges that face the human future. At Yale-NUS, I hope to contribute to the ways we explain religion, especially in Asia, and to foster critical and open inquiry among students that entails both deep and broad reading,” says Professor Flood.

Professor Flood will begin his appointment at Yale-NUS in January 2016.

J Y Pillay Professor 

Renowned anthropologist Professor Nicole Constable was named the J Y Pillay Professor at Yale-NUS College in October 2015. Prior to joining the College, Professor Constable held the positions of Professor at the Department of Anthropology, Research Professor at the University Center for International Studies, and Director of the Asian Studies Center, at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Constable has done extensive research on gender and migration, transnationalism and global intimacies, focusing on East and Southeast Asia, where she has written books such as Christian Souls and Chinese Spirits: A Hakka Community in Hong Kong and Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and ‘Mail Order’ Marriages. Her research, which deals with international labour and transnational migrant workers, is very relevant in today’s globalised world, which is seeing significant movements of people for work and refuge.

“It is a great honour to be named J Y Pillay Professor. It is exciting to be here at Yale-NUS College, especially with its spectacular students, and many research opportunities so close by. I look forward to learning about the lives and work experiences of migrant workers in Singapore,” says Professor Constable.

The J Y Pillay Professorship was established in 2012 and is awarded to leading academics engaged in cutting-edge research at the College. Professor Constable is the first full-time faculty member to hold this professorship, which runs concurrently with her tenure appointment as Professor in the Division of Social Sciences at Yale-NUS College. Previously, Professor Sir Peter Crane FRS, Yale University and Professor Bryan Garsten, Yale University, had been awarded the visiting J Y Pillay Professorships.

Among the subjects that the two professors will be teaching include The Self in Comparative Perspective and Gender Perspectives in Anthropology.

Inaugural Public Lecture by named professors

Two inaugural public lectures will be delivered by Professor Gavin Flood and Professor Nicole Constable during their appointment period. The lectures will contribute to the College’s continued efforts to enable the community to learn from and engage with these learned scholars on contemporary issues facing our world today.

“The named professors are distinguished scholars whose expertise and international renown add to the research and teaching reputation of the College. The College is pleased to be able to attract such exceptional scholars to its faculty, who can guide our students to an appreciation of topics in anthropology and comparative religious studies. By exposing our students to multidisciplinary perspectives, they can develop the confidence and cultural sensitivity to thrive in diverse environments,” says Professor Tan Tai Yong, Executive Vice-President (Academic Affairs), Yale-NUS College.

Yale-NUS College faculty grows to 100-strong

Besides the named professors, over 30 new faculty members have joined the College in Academic Year 2015/2016, bringing with them diverse experiences and knowledge in their various domains of expertise in Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. With these new faculty members, the College’s faculty strength now stands at more than 100, as compared to over 50 faculty members in the College’s first year of classes in Academic Year 2013/2014.

Besides Professor Flood and Professor Constable, some of the new faculty members include Professor Steven Bernasek, an experimental chemist previously from Princeton University, who is now helming the Science Division, and renowned anthropologist Professor Joseph Alter who previously served as a Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

As the first liberal arts college in Singapore, Yale-NUS offers a distinctive curriculum and residential programme that encourages active learning, adaptability and critical thought. 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 who are passionate in mentoring and teaching. The list of Yale-NUS faculty members can be found at https://www.yale-nus.edu.sg/about/faculty/


For media enquiries, please contact publicaffairs@yale-nus.edu.sg.


11 June 2019: Links have been updated.