Undergrads ponder disruptive change
NUS students from the University Scholars Programme (USP) organised the Singapore leg of the Asian Undergraduate Summit 2017 from 28 June to 3 July, which saw close to 200 participants from 11 universities across Asia discussing the phenomenon of disruption and what they could do about it.
Centred on the theme "Leadership in a Complex World: Disruptive Change in Everyday Life”, the Summit aims to be a platform to unite undergraduates from Asia in discussing pertinent issues of the 21st century via a multidisciplinary perspective. The event is fully student-led and student-run, and is driven by the ethos of student leadership development and of fostering change in the students’ respective countries and communities.
The programme in Singapore comprised two interwoven tracks — a content track and a skills track. The content track used a blend of keynote speeches, panel discussions and site visits to illustrate the implications of disruptive change, particularly in the Singapore context. One highlight was the site visit to the Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) which enabled both foreign and local participants to learn about the Singapore government’s approach in driving innovation and lifelong learning, and how this shapes the way we learn and work.
Delegates were also exposed to the rise of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) and its incredible potential for disruption in various industries. After a keynote speech by Ms Ellie Ngim, Co-Founder and Director of BeVRR Pte Ltd, about the nature and application of VR and AR, participants spent an engaging afternoon experiencing it through virtual reality consoles featuring a variety of genres and themed games.
The skills track focused on Design Thinking Methodologies, where in partnership with the Design Incubation Centre of NUS Design and Environment, 20 trained student facilitators from USP guided participants through the five-step process of Design Thinking. Participants began by identifying a key aspect of disruption in everyday life and whom it impacts. Guided by human-centred design thinking, they then interviewed members of the public matching their target audience to understand their needs. After several iterations of conceptualisation, prototyping and testing, each team put together a proposal with storyboards and prototypes detailing its unique idea. The top six ideas of the Summit were shortlisted for final judging at the Closing Ceremony. The judging panel comprised top industry experts and Design Thinkers.
Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung was the Guest-of-Honour for the Closing Ceremony on 3 July, where he viewed some of the presentations. During his speech, Mr Ong said, “…between cities and universities, the more connected we are, the more we learn from one another, and the more successful we can be. There is a network effect between centres of learning. If we can work together, maybe beyond transforming cities we can transform a region like Southeast Asia or ASEAN.”
Mr Ong was glad to note that our universities recognise this and are making good progress in providing students with overseas, especially regional, opportunities which broaden students’ perspectives and give them insights into the diverse and vibrant region. Meetings such as the Summit, he added, provide an excellent platform for networking and collaboration, even well after the Summit ends.
By Raag Sudha Sanjay, Asian Undergraduate Summit 2017 Chairperson, NUS Arts and Social Sciences and USP
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