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.
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.