Ten Yale students will be chosen to take part in a new study abroad program at the National University of Singapore for one month this summer as part of the University’s expansion of its overseas offerings, Yale officials said Monday.
The Yale students, who will be selected through an application process along with 10 NUS students, will each take two classes focusing on Southeast Asian studies and will live in NUS dorms, Yale Summer Programs Director William Whobrey said. The classes were designed with help from Yale professors, Whobrey said, and students who participate in the program will receive two full Yale credits. He said the classes will be taught in English, which is one of the official languages of Singapore.
“The potential is there to attract a wide body of people,” said Cristin Siebert, program coordinator for Yale Summer Session.
Singapore was considered an attractive place for a University study abroad program in part because English-speaking Yalies will not need to learn a new language, Siebert said.
Yale Secretary Linda Lorimer said the high caliber of the NUS faculty was an important factor in the University’s decision to begin a program there.
“The faculty at NUS who will be teaching the courses are a fascinating and dynamic group of individuals,” she said.
During the program, students will take “Introduction to Southeast Asian Studies,” which is an international studies course, and “History of Southeast Asia.” The courses will cover all of the countries in the region, Siebert said, focusing on aspects of Southeast Asian culture that include religion, politics, business and cultural identity.
“They’ve got a great lineup,” said Joe Errington, an East Asian languages and literatures professor who helped design the academic program. “For the study of the area of Southeast Asia, there’s probably no better place in the world right now than the National University of Singapore.”
The NUS program is open to sophomores, juniors and first-semester seniors, Siebert said, and financial aid is available for those students who qualify. In addition to four weeks of lectures, the program involves one week of travel to Melaka, Malaysia, and parts of Thailand, Siebert said.
A separate group of 10 NUS students will also come to New Haven to take classes during the summer, though Whobrey said the agreement between Yale and NUS is part of a larger collaboration with Yale, not a traditional exchange program.
“Yale as a university has a vested interest in establishing partnerships around the world with first-rate universities,” Whobrey said. “It’s a strategic decision on the part of the Office of International Affairs.”
More broadly, Lorimer said the program is a function of Yale’s push to enable every student to study abroad at least once during his or her undergraduate career.
“This is the latest in a set of expanded and creative summer school programs,” she said.
NUS and Yale, along with eight other universities, are members of the recently-launched International Association of Research Universities, which was formed to facilitate research collaborations between the schools.
Mike Lavigne ’09 said he is interested in applying for the NUS summer program.
“It sounds like this is a really good opportunity,” he said. “It’s great that the University is offering students the option to travel to a country that isn’t one everyone travels to.”
But Beth France ’06 said she wished the expansion of study abroad options included an increase in the diversity of world regions chosen for overseas programs. Earlier this year, Yale officials launched a joint study abroad program with Peking University in Beijing which will send about 20 students to China next year in the program’s inaugural semester.
“I did wish last summer that there was a little more institutional support … for programs in the Middle East and North Africa, [but] I do think it’s great that there’s expansion generally,” France said.
Applications for the NUS program are due April 3.