Yale-NUS College has to adapt the Yale model to Asia to succeed: PM Lee Hsien Loong

Yale-NUS College leadership and faculty line up for their ceremonial procession into the auditorium before the inauguration on Oct 12, 2015.
Yale-NUS College leadership and faculty line up for their ceremonial procession into the auditorium before the inauguration on Oct 12, 2015. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Yale-NUS senior management and faculty enters the auditorium in a ceremonial procession during the inauguration of the college.
Yale-NUS senior management and faculty enters the auditorium in a ceremonial procession during the inauguration of the college.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
(From left) President of Yale University Professor Peter Salovey, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Founding President of Yale-NUS College Professor Pericles Lewis, and Preside
(From left) President of Yale University Professor Peter Salovey, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Founding President of Yale-NUS College Professor Pericles Lewis, and President of National University of Singapore Professor Tan Chorh Chuan at the inauguration of the college.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Yale-NUS College Campus new campus.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Yale-NUS College Campus new campus. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Yale-NUS College Campus new campus.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Yale-NUS College Campus new campus. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - Singapore's first liberal arts college, Yale-NUS, cannot be a carbon copy of Yale in the United States if it is to succeed, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Oct 12).

Instead, it has to experiment and adapt the Yale model to Asia, he said at the inauguration of the college campus.

This is because while countries in Asia and the United States face similar challenges such as income inequality and wage stagnation, each country has different constraints.

Each country has different situations - natural endowments, historical experiences, geopolitical situations, social structures, cultures and values - and so there is no one-size solution and each has to find its own way forward, Mr Lee said.

Yale-NUS needs a curriculum and a college ethos that respond to the regional context of Asia, he said.

"Its graduates have to understand these countries... not just a theoretical, intellectual understanding on paper but actual experience living in Asia, interacting with fellow students from this region and outside," he said.

To do so, the college should be in Asia, to feel the buzz of societies on the move, to respond to the zeitgeist, the issues, and the priorities of a rising continent, added Mr Lee.

"We are building an institution here that is relevant and valuable both to the hosts in Asia and to ITS intellectual parents in the US," he said.

"Go forth and change the world," he said as he ended the speech.


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (in pink) speaks to Mr Amarbold Lkhagvasuren (second from left), 18, a Mongolian from the Class of 2018, Cendana College, and founding member of the Yale-NUS South Asian Society (YNDUS). ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

The 64,000-sq-m campus, designed by architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli of New Haven in the US and Forum Architects of Singapore, consists of three residential colleges, 1,000 student rooms, seminar rooms and facilities including a library, art studios and a black box theatre.

This year, the college had its third and largest intake of 190 students. It will reach an annual class size of 250 in a few years. 


Spanning 64,000 square metres and designed as a learning landscape that extends beyond the classroom, Yale-NUS College Campus new campus facilitates the Yale-NUS unique model of residential living and learning, a first in Asia. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN


Spanning 64,000 square metres and designed as a learning landscape that extends beyond the classroom, Yale-NUS College Campus new campus facilitates the Yale-NUS unique model of residential living and learning, a first in Asia. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN