New College of Humanities and Sciences by NUS delivers interdisciplinary learning at scale

An enhanced undergraduate experience that is built upon the deep research expertise of two of the largest and most established faculties in Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has officially launched the College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS), an enhanced undergraduate experience for students of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) and the Faculty of Science (FOS). The new College will admit more than 2,000 undergraduate students every year, substantially scaling up interdisciplinary teaching and learning at NUS.

Driven by the need to respond to the rapidly changing workplace in an uncertain and complex world, the launch of CHS marks a deeper emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and a drive to provide students with opportunities to develop competencies across fields. The College will equip graduates with market-relevant skills to meet employer needs in the new normal, as well as the crucial ability to solve complex problems by integrating multiple disciplines.

The College will admit its inaugural cohort in Academic Year 2021/2022. CHS students will have access to the facilities and courses offered in both faculties, as well as three types of four-year Honours degree programmes - Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Sciences and Bachelor of Science.

A distinct interdisciplinary approach

Above and beyond exposing students to different disciplines, CHS’ distinct interdisciplinary approach emphasises the ability to think, synthesise and integrate knowledge and insights across disciplines, and will be delivered at scale.

The College introduces a carefully curated Common Curriculum that comprises of 13 modules, or one-third of the total curriculum. The Common Curriculum incorporates General Education, imparts essential foundational skills and broadens intellectual foundations, and comprises:

  • Five new integrated modules covering Asian Studies, Integrated Social Sciences, Integrated Humanities and two modules in Scientific Inquiry. Asian Studies will equip students with appreciation for cultural diversity and open-minded tolerance, while Integrated Social Sciences and Integrated Humanities will help students to develop capabilities in critical thinking, independent learning, and approaching issues to do with the human condition in an intellectually rigorous way. The two Scientific Inquiry modules will provide students with a broad base and integrated understanding of scientific evidence and how science works, as well as using a science-based lens to critically review and evaluate phenomena.
  • Six General Education modules that build strong foundations in reading, writing, critical thinking and numeracy to expand students’ learning capacities. Three new General Education modules in Design Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and Community and Engagement will equip students with new competencies and skills for a digital and interconnected world.
  • Two new interdisciplinary modules from a basket of offerings, which will further train students on the ability to draw connections, discover links and connect insights across multiple disciplines.

This new way of instruction and learning will be delivered through problem-based pedagogies, giving students the ability to break out of silos and emphasising the interface and interplay between disciplines. This will be reinforced through expanded experiential learning opportunities in internships, fieldwork, and capstone projects to help them gain more real-world experience and increase their market relevancy.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “Interdisciplinary studies have been in the University’s DNA over the last 20 years, with initiatives like the Special Programme in Science, University Town College Programme, University Scholars Programme and Yale-NUS College. With the new CHS, we will offer our distinct interdisciplinary curriculum at scale, by building on the deep research expertise of two of the largest and most established faculties in Singapore. NUS is committed to taking bold steps to innovate our offerings as a world-class university, and lead this change for our new generation of students.”

Unparalleled flexibility and greater choice

The College’s interdisciplinary structure will enable student-centric pathways with more choice and flexibility. Students can pursue intellectual breadth and depth across disciplines, choosing from more than 1,000 modules offered by FASS and FOS.

With guidance, students can chart individualised pathways through a variety of major and minor combinations to accommodate their interests and development. Students can be versatilists with one major and unrestricted electives, integrators with two majors and unrestricted electives, or deep specialists with one major, while sharing the Common Curriculum across all pathways.

“As the workplace of the future faces constant shifts and changes, CHS has responded by offering students more flexibility and agency to chart their learning journeys,” said Professor Robbie Goh, CHS Co-Dean and Dean of FASS.

“With the breadth of choice available, students can decide if they want a more broad-based or specialised experience. Whether the intention is to work in the private sector or pursue a doctorate, CHS will provide the foundations, exposure and rigour to support myriad pathways and ambitions,” added Prof Goh.

Thinkers and doers of the future

With the flexibility and scale of choice available to students, possible career pathways for CHS graduates include in-demand roles across diverse industries such as technology, health agencies and research. These roles include data analysts and scientists, digital transformation specialists, digital marketing and strategy specialists, environmental consultants, food technologists, health policy analysts, and research communications managers, amongst many others.

“When designing the curriculum and structure of CHS, a key vision was to prepare students for a digital world and a future of change and complexity, while nurturing them to be adaptable, resilient and empathetic,” said Professor Sun Yeneng, CHS Co-Dean and Dean of FOS.

He added, “We want to combine academic passions with disciplines sought after by employers, and equip our graduates with the capability to be thinkers and doers of the future, and to thrive as global citizens.”

Employers are in strong support of the new college and its interdisciplinary approach, as they recognise the increasing need for workers who are able to comprehend and integrate different perspectives, and solve complex problems spanning multiple disciplines.

“To deal with rapid change and increasing complex global challenges, employers value people with good breadth and depth of knowledge, and the ability to lead and work in multidisciplinary teams. In today’s world of continuous disruptions, employees must embrace lifelong learning to remain relevant. At DSTA, we have therefore placed strong emphasis on developing our people with broad-based perspectives, to consistently deliver innovative solutions for Singapore’s defence,” said Mr Tan Peng Yam, Chief Executive, Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).

He added, “It is heartening that NUS is taking this positive step and we congratulate it on establishing its new College of Humanities and Sciences. It will offer a good headstart for aspiring minds to build a strong multidisciplinary foundation to address present and future technological challenge.”

For more information, visit chs.nus.edu.sg.