Published on: 31-Oct-2016
Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) is expanding its programmes in humanities and social sciences by setting up two separate schools – the School of Humanities (SoH) and the School of Social Sciences (SSS) from August 2017.
Students majoring in Chinese, English, History, Linguistics & Multilingual Studies and Philosophy will be admitted into the School of Humanities. Those studying Economics, Psychology, Public Policy & Global Affairs and Sociology will come under the School of Social Sciences. The two new schools will be housed under the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, which also includes the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, and the School of Art, Design and Media.
Currently, NTU offers all its humanities and social science programmes at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). With the broadening of the undergraduate curriculum under the NTU Education blueprint in the last 5 years, the School has also been offering an increasing number of courses for students from Science, Engineering and the other Schools. Interdisciplinary minors such as Translation, Creative Writing and Film Studies, and modern languages such as Korean and Spanish attract a large number of students and enrich their learning experience. Humanities and Social Sciences at NTU are poised for further growth. The establishment of the two new Schools will enable the strengthening of existing minors such as Urban and Environmental Studies and Global Asia, and the introduction of new programmes such as Science, Technology and Society, and Health and Society.
NTU President, Professor Bertil Andersson said: “Although NTU is known as a science and technology university, it does not mean that Humanities and Social Sciences are secondary. In today’s world, it is ever so important to be interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary in our approach to work and the world at large.
“Growing the study of the humanities and social sciences at NTU is not just good for students keen on pursuing these disciplines as its benefits are university-wide. Humanities and social sciences play a unique and vital role in the development of vibrant creative societies. NTU’s big push in this area will boost students’ ability to think critically about the tough choices facing society in a rapidly changing world driven by technology, global connectedness and climate change.
“Creative thinking is also needed for truly excellent scientists, engineers, mathematicians and other professionals who can solve complex problems by looking beyond their own fields of expertise. Having two new schools enables NTU to offer our students a wider breadth of learning and knowledge which will include the humanities and social sciences.”
Moving from strength to strength
The current School of Humanities and Social Sciences was established in 2004 with only about 60 Economics students and has rapidly grown into one of NTU’s largest schools with more than 3,700 students today.
The School has recruited more than 100 academics in the past six years and is now home to more than 200 professors and lecturers, making it NTU’s largest school in terms of faculty numbers.
Instead of conventional training in classical humanities, the School’s approach is multidisciplinary. Its Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Philosophy programme, for instance, adopts a distinctive interdisciplinary curriculum that features courses on innovation and subjects such as the philosophy of science and philosophy of technology.
Having two schools instead of one will better serve the needs of the growing student population and to have sharper focus on the growth and development of the respective academic fields.
Professor Alan Chan, Dean, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, NTU, said, “The growth of HSS has accelerated in recent years and we have now reached a point where HSS has outgrown its current structure which was put in place more than a decade ago. The re-organisation of HSS into two schools increases flexibility for future growth and enhances opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary research. The new schools will enable NTU to fulfil the evolving educational needs and aspirations of our students.”
Maintaining the current admission and academic structure, the two new schools will offer four-year direct honours bachelor degree programmes with undergraduates majoring in their chosen discipline from the first year. Students will also have the option to choose a second major or minor in other subjects.
In addition, SoH and SSS undergraduates will be able to broaden their knowledge and enjoy more freedom to explore their academic interests outside their degree programmes. Students can also opt for selected courses from other programmes and institutes within NTU, such as the National Institute of Education and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies to complement their major.
Mr Nicholas Lee Leong Sheng, President of the HSS Club and a second-year Psychology undergraduate, said student representatives will work with the University on the establishment of the two new schools.
“Change is not always comfortable, but change is the only way to get better. The restructuring is an excellent opportunity to further enhance the enriching educational and personal development experience for current and future students.”
Building on 12 years of success
HSS currently offers nine Bachelor of Arts, 12 Master of Arts and 9 Doctor of Philosophy programmes. Among the new Bachelor programmes introduced over the last four years are History (2012), Public Policy and Global Affairs (2013) and Philosophy (2014).
Earlier this year, the school launched a new Bachelor of Arts programme where high achievers can choose from six double majors, combining the arts, social sciences and communication studies. Communication with a second major in business and integrated programmes in Economics and Business, and Psychology and Biological Sciences, are also on offer. The School’s more than 20 minor programmes provide all NTU students ample opportunities to pursue their particular interests and broaden their intellectual horizons. A new Master of Translation and Interpretation – Singapore’s first postgraduate programme for this fast-growing profession – was introduced last year. New master’s programmes are now being planned in areas that serve Singapore’s needs.
Two of NTU’s humanities degree programmes are ranked among the world's top 50 in the 2016 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Subject Rankings. Linguistics is ranked 24th globally and English Language & Literature is 48th – no ordinary achievement for a young school like HSS.
Ramping up interdisciplinary research
Besides the potential to offer more multidisciplinary courses, Professor Chan said that there will be deeper emphasis on interdisciplinary research activity and study, such as Gerontology, a new growth area involving social science, design, engineering and medicine.
Professor Chan said, “Ageing is a serious issue for Singapore and many other societies. Technology will play a vital role in addressing the challenges of an ageing population, but technology alone cannot bring about the kind of flourishing and caring society we all desire. There is a need to understand the complex psychological and behavioural conditions and the kind of interventions required, for example, to enable healthy and active ageing.”
Currently, HSS has five interdisciplinary clusters, including one on new frontiers in neuroscience. The neuroscience cluster brings together researchers from diverse disciplines interested in brain function, cognition and behaviour, and aims to boost societal welfare and well-being by investigating memory aging and how to prevent cognitive decline.
NTU’s new School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences will build on these existing efforts by focusing on research issues surrounding Gerontology, working in greater synergy with the School of Biological Sciences, College of Engineering and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.
To further promote such connections across the various disciplines, a joint research committee, comprising faculty from SoH and SSS, will be formed to work on thematic interdisciplinary research areas in line with the University’s strategic research foci on Global Asia, Sustainability, Healthy Living, Secure Community and Future Learning.
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Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687
About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world’s top young university for the last two years running. The University’s main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
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