School interview: National University of Singapore

by C:F Team on 28th April, 2010 at 9:48 AM CEST

In preparation for the upcoming Challenge:Future Summit in Bled, Challenge:Future invited the most successful schools to answer a few questions about their activities related to sustainability, innovation and future challenges.

The first school we'd like to introduce through this series of interviews is National University of Singapore (NUS). NUS is currently the leading school in this year's C:F competition with over 50 000 sparks and 210 students, and will also be well represented at the C:F Summit with 2 of the 9 finalist teams and several other invited students. Not surprisingly, sustainability and innovation are key to many NUS activities. Let's take a look!


How is sustainability and concern regarding our common future integrated in your school programme and activities?

"Sustainability is a key concern of NUS at all levels. At the institutional level, furthering earlier efforts by the Campus Green Committee (est. 2003) and the Campus Sustainability Committee (est. 2006), NUS established the university-level Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) in 2008. Today, OES administers many campus-wide initiatives on climate change, energy, waste management, natural spaces and environmental education. OES works closely with a number of other university offices as well as student groups, including the very active group “Students Against Violation of the Earth” (SAVE).

In research, “Integrative Sustainability Solutions” has been identified as one of five major research clusters of NUS. NUS has a number of university-level research institutes dedicated to cutting edge research in this area, including the Energy Studies Institute, NUS Environmental Research Institute, Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, and Tropical Marine Science Institute.

In education, NUS offers many courses of relevance to sustainability and the environment in a wide range of disciplines, including environmental engineering, chemical engineering, life sciences, chemistry, geography, economics, philosophy, real estate, law and public policy.

In 2009, large-scale events such as the National Sustainability Conference, the “Arts and the Environment”-themed NUS Arts Festival, and the Green Carnival enjoyed widespread support from the NUS community. In 2009, the NUS “University Town” project won the Singapore Building and Construction Authority Green Mark Award for integrated environmentally friendly development. In 2010, NUS joined 24 other leading universities, including Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge, in the signing of the “Sustainable Campus Charter” at the Global University Leadership Forum of the World Economic Forum at Davos. On that occasion, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said: “Environmental sustainability is one of the most pressing issues that the world faces today. NUS, a global university, is committed to reducing our environmental impact. We are privileged to coordinate our efforts with universities around the world to promote the development of environmentally sustainable campuses.”"

What is your school doing to become an innovation leader?

"The drive for innovation permeates the university at all levels. At the institutional level, NUS established the university-level cluster known as NUS Enterprise, headed by a CEO at deputy president level.

The following is the Mission Statement of NUS Enterprise:

“Universities have long been recognized as institutions with key missions in education, research and the dissemination of knowledge. However, as global economies become increasingly knowledge-drive, universities in the 21st century must move beyond their traditional academic missions and adopt an entrepreneurial orientation in order to become growth engines for their countries.

In support of Singapore’s transformation into a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy, NUS is making its transition into a world-class knowledge organization, striving for excellence in education and research, while at the same time infusing an entrepreneurial spirit and cultivating a global outlook within our community.

To this end, NUS Enterprise was established as a University-level cluster to provide an enterprise dimension to NUS teaching and research involving the University’s students, staff and alumni. The functions of the Enterprise Cluster complement the academic cluster of the University to nurture talents with an entrepreneurial and global mindset. NUS Enterprise promotes the spirit of innovation and enterprise through experiential education, industry engagement and partnerships, and entrepreneurship support.”

NUS Enterprise comprises the NUS Overseas Colleges, Industry Liaison Office, Entrepreneurship Centre, and other business units and corporate services.

From the educational perspective, the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) is particularly noteworthy. NOC is primarily an international internship programme which provides opportunities for NUS students to immerse in one of the following entrepreneurial hubs in the world: Silicon Valley, Philadelphia (Bio-Valley), Stockholm, India, Shanghai and Beijing. Students intern full-time for up to a year in a start-up company while studying part-time at our partner universities (Stanford, U Penn, KTH, Fudan and Tsinghua). NOC is proving to be a transformative experiential learning experience for our students."

How will an increasingly connected world influence your school in coming years? What will be the biggest challenges for your school?

"NUS’s tagline is “A leading global university centred in Asia, influencing the future.” Internationalisation is indeed a recognised strength of NUS. To start with, NUS is a highly cosmopolitan community, with more than 20% of its undergraduates, 70% of its postgraduates, and 60% of its faculty international.

In terms of global education, today, NUS offers more than 60 double and joint degree programmes with overseas partner universities, and has student exchange partnerships with more than 180 leading universities worldwide. It provides study abroad opportunities of a semester or more to 20% of its undergraduates. An additional 30% of our undergraduates participate in summer programmes, study trips, internships and conferences abroad, making one in every two students gaining international exposure during their undergraduate studies. NUS also has many numerous research collaborations with top research universities and institutes overseas.

In the coming years, NUS will continue to step up its internationalisation effort. It strives to attract top talent to study and work at NUS, and offer its students high impact study abroad experiences. The challenge is to continue to innovate in the rapidly intensifying competitive higher education landscape with tightening resources."

Any thoughts about the future of Challenge:Future?

"We will continue to encourage our students to participate actively in C:F."

Challenge:Future would like to thank Peter Pang for providing these answers on behalf of NUS.

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Zhikica Pagovski

Zhikica Pagovski | Action team | CF Chapters

nice interview! congtrats for being first with sparks!

28th April, 2010 @ 10:09 AM CEST

Sayanee Basu

Sayanee Basu | Action team | CF Chapters

Wooo hooo!! COngrats to my alma mater :)

28th April, 2010 @ 10:12 AM CEST

Alja Sulčič

Alja Sulčič

Great interview, nice seeing a school so dedicated to sustainability and innovation! It's really no wonder that you have that many sparks :)

28th April, 2010 @ 10:28 AM CEST

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