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Tan Chin Tuan Foundation boosts liberal arts learning

04 April 2012

Prof Hansen, the inaugural visiting Tan Chin Tuan Professor, delivering her public lecture

Yale-NUS College, a landmark collaboration between NUS and Yale University, promises a fresh take on education by marrying American liberal arts college studies with Asian perspectives and experiences.

Thanks to a S$5 million gift by the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation, a Professorship in China & Chinese Studies and a Programme in Chinese Culture & Civilization for undergraduate students will be set up. These will offer cross-cultural teaching of Chinese and Western influential ideas - for instance, the writings of Confucius will be taught together with Aristotle's and their philosophy discussed.

With such an approach, the College seeks to improve current liberal arts offerings to meet the need for liberal arts education in Asia.

Ms Chew Gek Khim, Deputy Chairman of the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation said: "The role of the Foundation is to be a catalyst and driver in creating a multiplier effect when giving.... We hope that our gift to the Yale-NUS College will instill a sense of history and tradition in our local and regional communities, making an education in Singapore and the region unique."

She added that the Foundation will link the College with other institutions supporting Chinese studies to have a key role in perpetuating knowledge and understanding of China, as well as the study in Singapore of Chinese history, culture and civilization.

Yale-NUS College Governing Board Member and NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan noted that Yale-NUS College will offer students a new model of undergraduate education in Asia that provides breadth of learning and depth of understanding needed for leadership in the 21st century. He said: "NUS is very grateful to be able to partner the Foundation to nurture leaders with the intellectual qualities and the multidimensional perspectives so crucial for Asia and the world."

Prof Valerie Hansen, an expert in Chinese History at Yale University, has been named the inaugural visiting Tan Chin Tuan Professor. She delivered a public lecture at NUS on 3 April titled "Contending Superpowers: the Defeat of China" which looked at how the Song Dynasty was overthrown by the Kitan in northeast Asia, bringing about worldwide changes in 1004 that interestingly resembled our present globalisation.