Cancelled project did not meet academic standards

The Yale-NUS College campus in Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Goh Choon Kang wrote that Yale-NUS College's recently cancelled Dialogue and Dissent in Singapore project raises questions about external interference (Singapore does not need a 'colour revolution', Sept 21).

First, to be clear, this was an internal decision by the college, on intellectual and pedagogical grounds, that the said project did not meet our academic standards. Moreover, the proposed activities expose students to the risk of breaking the law.

The entire episode has nothing to do with efforts to promote any form of protest or revolution.

Second, there is no connection between this Week 7 Learning Across Boundaries (LAB) project cancellation and the students' gathering in March last year.

In that incident, the students dispersed that same evening after meeting the college administration to discuss greater student engagement in college community decisions.

Third, administrator Tan Yock Theng was appointed to provide general support for the project. She had no hand in designing it.

Mr Alfian Sa'at, who proposed the project, formerly had a visiting appointment teaching playwriting at the college.

This project is not within the college's regular curriculum but instead, is a part of the Week 7 LAB programme, which takes place outside the Yale-NUS campus.

The college remains fully committed to academic freedom - to open inquiry, critical discussion and study.

This is distinct from undertaking activities that cross the line of what is legally allowed in Singapore. This operating principle is true in all countries.

Yale-NUS College is committed to a vision of education that fosters intellectual curiosity, rigour of method, historically informed critical awareness of social, political, scientific and cultural realities, and a firm commitment to the betterment of life on the planet.

We do so by fostering critical understanding within the contexts of academic study.

The Week 7 LAB project that was cancelled clearly did not fulfil that requirement.

Tan Tai Yong


Yale-NUS College

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2019, with the headline Cancelled project did not meet academic standards. Subscribe