On a Friday evening, guests gathered for dinner and a chance to savour a conversation with Professor Kishore Mahbubani (’71), Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (NUS), and Professor Choo Chiau Beng, Provost Chair and Professor (Practice) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, NUS Faculty of Engineering and the Department of Management and Organisation, NUS Business School.
Moderated by Associate Professor Lakshminarayanan Samavedham, who is the Master of Residential College (RC) 4 at University Town (UTown), the NUS Greater Good Series titled “Thought Leadership for Singapore’s Next 50 Years” was an opportunity to reflect on Singapore’s past successes and future challenges with a focus on human capital development and thought leadership.
“Uncertainty rules. Unpredictability is the norm,” says Prof Choo, the Chairman of M1 Limited who is also Rector of RC4, setting the tone for the discussion that quickly took on current issues in the world today head on.
From the unexpected ‘Brexit’- the British exit from the European Union – to the importance of ASEAN, and the evolution of education in Singapore, the audience was deeply engaged in the dialogue throughout.
But a topic evidently close to everyone’s hearts was the relevance of Singapore’s education today.
“What we need to work on is nurturing the spirit of idealism and the spirit of adventure in our young students. During my time in the university, more were challenging boundaries. The political apathy amongst young people today is quite alarming,” observed Prof Mahbubani, who was a philosophy major at the University of Singapore, NUS’ predecessor.
Emphasising the value of residential college living, the former diplomat treasured the experience of studying at the Bukit Timah Campus and staying in the residential hall, where “discussions never ended”.
Coming from humble family backgrounds, both Prof Mahbubani and Prof Choo were recipients of scholarships that allowed them to enjoy tertiary education.
Today, UTown offers undergraduates a new type of campus living, where students live and learn together with their peers and professors. Newest in town, RC4 aims to equip its students with skills in systems thinking, to help them seek solutions to challenging social, environmental, economic and public policy problem-areas facing humankind.
With a robust education system in place today and numerous opportunities available, Prof Choo concludes, “We can only do what we can do to educate our young people to be independent, resilient, and have a heart for the people and think for the community. Then there’s a chance for our success in the next 50 years.”
The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The Series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society. The Series was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
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