NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences appoints first Visiting Professor in Sikh studies to deepen knowledge and research of Sikhism and the Sikh way of life

The CSGB Visiting Professorship in Sikh Studies, established in collaboration with the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) is the first of its kind in Asia, outside the Indian subcontinent.

The NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) have appointed Associate Professor Jasjit Singh as the inaugural CSGB Visiting Professor in Sikh Studies. His appointment was announced at the official launch of the CSGB Visiting Professorship in Sikh Studies, which Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, attended as Guest-of-Honour.

Assoc Prof Singh is a Sikh studies expert from the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science at the University of Leeds, UK. He began his term with FASS on 7 August 2023 and will be serving for one semester (or five months) in the new academic year 2023/2024.

The official launch event today follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in April last year between NUS FASS and CSGB to set up this Visiting Professorship. Administered by the NUS FASS South Asian Studies Programme, with a S$1.06 million endowment fund raised by the local Sikh community (with donations receiving government dollar-to-dollar matching), this is the first Sikh studies visiting professorship to be established in Asia, outside the Indian subcontinent.

FASS Dean, Professor Lionel Wee, said “Assoc Prof Jasjit Singh is a leading authority in the field of Sikh studies, he is also well-regarded as an innovator in his impact-related work as demonstrated by his meaningful engagements with minority ethnic communities and organisations in the UK. With his expertise on British Sikhism, Assoc Prof Singh will sharpen our scholarly lens on Sikh beliefs and practices, and deepen our students’ knowledge and appreciation of the Sikh way of life not only in Singapore but internationally. We thank CSGB for working with us on this pioneer endeavour which supports our Faculty’s wider aim of community engagement with the society.”

Assoc Prof Singh is currently teaching an undergraduate course titled “Introduction to Sikhism” where students will be introduced to the foundational tenets of Sikhism and its historical development in pre-colonial and colonial India. He will also deliver guest lectures on the Sikhs for undergraduate courses, “South Asia in Singapore” and “World Religions”. At the NUS FASS South Asian Studies Programme, he will lead research on digital Sikhism – the study of the impact of the digital online environment on the religious lives of Sikhs and specifically how Sikhs in Singapore engage online.

Additionally, Assoc Prof Singh will deliver a workshop to the Sikh community and a public lecture open to all organised by the CSGB and NUS which are scheduled to take place in November 2023.

Commenting on the Visiting Professorship, Mr Dilbagh Singh, President of CSGB, said “The Sikh community in Singapore is a super minority of 12,500. Despite our small numbers, the community has contributed its fair share to nation-building and emphasised the importance of inter-faith harmony for maintaining the country’s social fabric, as well as its economic prosperity and international standing. With this visiting professorship, we hope to promote Sikh cultural heritage and foster a deeper understanding of Sikhism and the Sikh way of life.” 

Visiting Professor Assoc Prof Jasjit Singh, said “I am thrilled to be appointed as the inaugural Visiting Professor in Sikh Studies at the NUS. This position provides me with the opportunity to teach students from a different social and cultural context to my own and to learn about how they perceive Sikhs and how these perceptions have been developed. It allows me to research a relatively underexamined but very significant part of the Sikh diaspora. With moves in academia to diversify and decolonise, it is becoming more and more important to bring in underexamined perspectives and to ensure that research on the Sikh diaspora is not solely based on the Western experience. The Chair is also an excellent example of university/community engagement which has been at the core of my academic career to date and highlights how the NUS and CSGB are committed to racial and religious harmony through the exchange of ideas and perspectives, helping to foster cross-cultural understanding.” 

More information on Assoc Prof Singh can be found here