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​New NTU doctoral scholarship to grow Singaporean talents in humanities, arts and social sciences 

Published on: 08-Jul-2014

​Three pioneer scholars heading to top US & UK universities before returning to teach and do research at NTU
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has introduced a new scholarship to grow Singapore’s pool of local academics with PhDs in the humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS).
The HASS International Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Scholarship will enable outstanding Singapore citizens and permanent residents to pursue an academic career in the humanities, arts and social sciences by supporting their doctoral and postdoctoral studies at top overseas universities. After successfully completing their studies, the scholars will return to Singapore to teach and conduct research at NTU. 
Three talented young Singaporeans, Mr Benjamin Li, Ms Yeo Min Hui and Mr Jonathan Yeo are the first to receive this prestigious scholarship. Benjamin, a PhD student from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), will be pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship in the United States. Min Hui, who will soon be starting her Master's in Chinese Studies at NTU's School of Humanities and Social Sciences, will subsequently apply to a top university in the United States to do a PhD. Jonathan, an economics graduate from NTU, who is currently doing his Master of Science in Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), has already accepted a place in Warwick University and will commence his PhD studies in September this year.
Prof Freddy Boey, Provost of NTU said, “This scholarship is an important investment in Singapore’s long-term intellectual and creative capacity. It will ensure that our higher education sector will have a steady stream of our best and brightest minds in the humanities, arts and social sciences who can help us understand and respond to the various social, ethical and even technological challenges in society. The scholars can also contribute to important areas of innovation and policy making, and the cross-pollination of ideas between the sciences and the humanities.”
Prof Alan Chan, Dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences said, “We believe this scholarship will motivate many talented young Singaporeans, who might otherwise be anxious about the opportunity costs of pursuing a graduate degree, to take on the challenge of an academic career. We are investing in the next generation of home-grown academic thought leaders who will contribute towards shaping Singapore’s future through their teaching and research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.”
During the scholarship period, the scholars will be employed as NTU staff and granted paid leave of up to 5 years to pursue a sponsored PhD programme in an overseas university. Alternatively, the scholars can do a PhD in NTU, combined with an extended period of research in an overseas partner university. Upon successful completion of their programme, they will be appointed as tenure-track Assistant Professors at NTU.
Scholars enjoy a broad range of benefits, including a monthly salary, fully covered tuition fees, as well as living allowances and grants of about $21,000 annually. The scholars are expected to visit their NTU school for at least four weeks within the scholarship period, where they will interact with fellow faculty, and participate in various teaching, research and other activities.
Overseas exposure integral for academic career
The overseas exposure will allow the scholars to gain a better understanding of other countries and cultures, making them better prepared to assume leadership roles in their academic careers. The networks they gain from pursuing a PhD abroad will be another important asset.
“Doing research abroad is an enriching experience; it exposes our young scholars to a different competitive learning environment and prepares them for the challenges ahead,” Prof Boey said.
Jonathan Yeo, who is completing his Master’s at the LSE this month and heading to Warwick University for his PhD, agreed. He said, “The overseas scholarship will enable me to widen my horizons as compared to pursuing a PhD locally. The connections I gain overseas will be especially important to both my future academic career in terms of research opportunities, collaborations and as a source of outside expertise.”
Jonathan’s current research interest is in behavioural and experimental economics, and he plans to contribute to the growing research in this field at NTU and in Singapore, particularly its potential real-life applications in terms of policy making.
“With Singapore having a wide mix of individuals from various countries and different walks of life, I believe that there is also an opportunity here for the study of topics involving social integration and networks. In particular, this may have an increasing relevance worldwide especially with countries becoming more globalised and integrated together,” he said.
Benjamin Li, who holds a first class honours degree in Communication Studies and is completing his PhD at WKWSCI, plans to do a postdoctoral fellowship at either Stanford or Harvard for the duration of the scholarship, before returning to NTU to focus on health communication and information technology.
He said, “I have been working on using digital technology to promote health among youths, for example, using video games such as the Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii to motivate children to exercise more. Results are promising, and I am currently investigating how such games can promote positive attitudes towards exercise. In the near future, I hope to establish a motivation model that describes how these video games act as effective health tools.
“I am also looking at how people respond to and behave in virtual environments. Technologies such as Google Glass and Oculus Rift will make augmented reality a possibility in the near future, and it will be interesting to see how people's attitudes and behaviours are influenced by these technologies.”
Sharing his motivation, he said, “I have been in WKWSCI for almost 10 years, and I have been thinking about how I can contribute to the school, having benefited so much from my education here. I have a strong passion to teach NTU students, and conduct meaningful research with the faculty here. So when this opportunity came up, I immediately went for it. Opportunities like these are extremely rare to come by!”
Yeo Hui Min, who is embarking on her Master’s programme in Chinese Studies at NTU soon, plans to do a research project on Singapore.
“I am interested in cultural studies, and I feel that as a Singaporean, I can share my perspective through my research. I hope to give back to NTU by means of teaching, and that includes inspiring and motivating the students to think independently and critically. I also hope to contribute to Singapore's research scene by bridging Singapore with the Chinese academic fields,” she said.
For more information and to apply for the HASS International PhD Scholarship, visit:

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Note to editors:
The Chinese name of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences International PhD Scholarship is: 南洋理工大学文学院国际博士生奖学金计划
Media contact:
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 (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences. 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 on 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).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit

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