Dynamic learning at its best

Seminar-style lessons and work-and-play spaces enhance the tertiary experience for Singapore Management University undergraduates

Artist’s impression of the co-curricular centre and amphitheatre on the campus green at Singapore Management University (SMU).PHOTO: SMU
Artist’s impression of the co-curricular centre and amphitheatre on the campus green at Singapore Management University (SMU).PHOTO: SMU
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opened the School of Law Building and Kwa Geok Choo Law Library last March. PHOTO: SMU
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opened the School of Law Building and Kwa Geok Choo Law Library last March. PHOTO: SMU

Would you like a vibrant and fulfilling university educational experience?

Since its inception in 2000, the Singapore Management University (SMU) has prided itself on achieving that with its highly interactive, collaborative and project-based approach to in-and-out-of-classroom learning.  

In line with its commitment to produce creative and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge and innovation-driven economy, SMU aims to deliver a transformative education that produces future-ready graduates.

SMU’s curriculum anticipates the real needs of the future — one that features participative learning backed by cutting-edge multi-disciplinary research.

Learn, play and grow

Complementing this approach is SMU LifeLessons, a goal-setting framework focused on helping students uncover their personal values and purpose as they grow to become global citizens. 

This is achieved through three bodies: the Centre for Social Responsibility, the Mrs Wong Kwok Leong Student Wellness Centre and the Office for Student Life.

Community service initiatives are available, counselling and support services are rendered, and a wide range of arts, sport, special interest and adventure activities is facilitated.

Students also enjoy opportunities to attend talks by world-renowned government and corporate leaders, diplomats, industry captains and entrepreneurs.

Through events such as the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership Lecture Series, the Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series and conferences organised by SMU’s Wee Kim Wee Centre, students are able to engage with invited guest speakers.

The list of illustrious speakers included former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon; Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi; chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, Dr Donald Tsang; professor of Economics and senior United Nations adviser Jeffrey D Sachs; and DP Architects’ chief executive Angelene Chan.

The SMU community is also encouraged to be of service to the community both locally and overseas via special projects, task forces, and outreach and recruitment activities.

Students can choose to be part of more than 120 co-curricular activities (CCAs), student leadership groups and special student committees. They can also start special interest groups with like-minded friends.

Students Elliot Gaston Braet, Clarabelle Koh, Nur Dini Haziqah Mohd Sukri and Subramaniam Narayanan. PHOTO: SMU

Thriving hub

All this happens in SMU's engaging environment that stimulates learning.

The only city campus in Singapore and one of just a few around the world, SMU is located in the heart of the civic district, just a stone’s throw from the Central Business District.

A bustling space of communal activity, the campus is home to creativity space lyf@SMU and CCA hub Campus Green. In both the Li Ka Shing Library and the Kwa Geok Choo Law Library, the SMU community can enjoy access to Learning Commons, which are open 24/7 as study areas, wireless access to the Internet and the SMU network, and printing and copying facilities.

lyf@SMU, located at SMU Labs for study, work, and living is also a living lab. PHOTO: SMU

On February 27, SMU opened its Student Services Hub. Apart from offering a convenient and one-stop centre that amalgamates student-related services, the Student Services Hub also aims to offer bite-sized workshops such that learning takes place through centre programming. These workshops will enable students to build a strong foundation in independent decision-making and effectively adapt to the demands and challenges of university life.

Another extension of these on-campus facilities is the existing student residence – SMU Prinsep Street Residences (PSR), located just an eight-minute walk from the school campus.

Artist's impression of Prinsep Street Residences (PSR), a community where students can live, work and learn together. PHOTO: SMU

The PSR estate is currently being refurbished and when completed in July, it will feature 23 large shared apartments for 255 local and international students, along with purpose-built communal spaces that will facilitate co-living/working/learning. 

As part of a new residential learning-and-living concept to be introduced at PSR from August, students can look forward to a residential experience in the heart of the city that is integrated with programming — both curated and student-directed. 

SMU aims to build a community where residents live, work and learn together, and give back to the Bras Basah community, as they participate in collaborative projects and activities revolving around the themes of entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, community service, grooming future leaders, and social integration and diversity.

Says SMU Provost, Professor Lily Kong: “The SMU residential living-and-learning model is very much an extension of our holistic approach towards education, which has been a hallmark since SMU’s inception in 2000. 

“As a university, we are committed to nurturing well-rounded students who will make a meaning impact in their communities.  We are confident that students will benefit richly from the residential experience while contributing to the larger community around them. Through various learning opportunities between the community and the classroom, students will build character, develop life-skills and forge friendships for life.”

Singapore Management University (SMU) student Nelson Goh taking a group photo with Kenyan children during his community work in Nairobi, Kenya. PHOTO: NELSON GOH

Transformational journeys

SMU's approach to education has prepared its graduates to excel in the world beyond the university. Over the years, its cohorts have gone on to join some of today's most reputable employers.

Goldman Sachs executive director Lorraine Tan, who earned a double degree in Accountancy and Business Management, says SMU gave her a richer and more well-rounded education that empowered her with the flexibility to integrate different disciplines. 

Says Ms Tan: "I was attracted to SMU's broad-based curriculum, which is modelled after the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. It equipped me with analytical thinking, and soft skills such as leadership and communication," she adds.

Similarly, one of the reasons why graduate Yam Yujian found his university life fulfilling was because SMU's pedagogy was a good fit with his personality. As he learns best through interactive discussions instead of lectures, he was able to excel academically while participating in a range of CCAs.

Now a deputy director with the Ministry of National Development, he advises aspiring students to not hold back in order to experience everything that SMU has to offer.

Making a difference

Lee Kong Chian School of Business graduate Manorama Singh embraces the same mindset. After finding her passion and purpose in community service through SMU, she has gone on to impact the lives of people in Singapore and beyond.

She has tutored students with financial difficulties and taught exercise routines to the elderly. She has also distributed solar-powered bulbs to villagers in the Philippines and set up a scholarship fund for needy students in India — even graduating a semester early to ensure she had the necessary finances.

"My experience with mentoring youth at risk for the past six years made me realise that we can make a difference in their lives if we provide them with time and a commitment that is long-term," she says.

In fact, her community service journey is not going to stop at SMU.

"I'm an optimist who believes strongly in the power of love to effect change. I have seen how as an individual or a group, we can move mountains,” says Ms Singh.

"The exposure that I gained in SMU has shaped my world view. Each of us is different, but I believe we deserve the same respect and rights. I found my passion and purpose in community service, and this will not fade."