Singapore

NUS to bring together arts and science faculties to form new college

Move towards more interdisciplinary learning is for graduates to have core skills while remaining versatile

The National University of Singapore (NUS) will be bringing together two of its faculties - one of them its largest - to form a new interdisciplinary college next year.

It has been proposed that the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - which has the largest enrolment in NUS with 6,404 undergraduates in the last academic year - be brought together with the Faculty of Science to form the College of Humanities and Sciences, The Straits Times has learnt. 

Both faculties are located at the university's Kent Ridge campus.

The two faculties will still exist, with plans for current deans Professor Robbie Goh of the arts and social sciences faculty and the science faculty's Professor Sun Yeneng to become co-deans of the new college, ST understands.

An NUS spokesman said "the proposal is still in the consultation stage".

The internal consultations, based on a working draft for the proposed new college that was circulated to faculty members, began soon after NUS President Tan Eng Chye wrote a commentary this month in ST about the need for universities to move from subject specialisation to interdisciplinary teaching and research.

According to a working draft seen by ST, the college's students will have access to facilities and humanities, social sciences, science and mathematics courses offered by both faculties.

This move towards more interdisciplinary learning comes with the Education Ministry's push in recent years for graduates to have core skills and knowledge, while remaining versatile and adaptable to future conditions.

If approved, the new college could begin accepting students as soon as the next academic year which begins next August.

NUS President Tan Eng Chye said the proposed college will equip students with market-relevant skills to thrive in the future economy.

"The rapid pace of change in many industries means that the old model of intense academic specialisation will no longer work for our young adults.

"Rather, graduates into the workforce will need a breadth of knowledge, depth, as well as the ability to integrate multiple disciplines to solve complex problems," he said.

NUS will offer 10 cross-disciplinary degree programmes from August next year to leverage synergies between complementary disciplines. Some possible pairings of complementary disciplines include economics and data science, and computing and project management.

Dr Timothy Chan, director of Academic and Student Development divisions at SIM Global Education, noted that the new college will see "two very different domains of expertise put together".

"One is hard, natural science, while another is the arts and humanities," he said. "In confronting real-life problems, apart from scientific inquiry, you need a humanistic aspect to consider societal implications."

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