Academic freedom


September 2019 – Yale-NUS College cancelled a programme on dissent and resistance, reopening the debate over whether Yale University had sacrificed academic freedom in order to open a joint venture in Singapore. Below is a selection of articles on the incident, as well as several articles on liberal arts education written prior to the latest controversy.

Singapore Yale-NUS College’s class on dissent ‘not training for Hong Kong-style protests’

By Dewey Sim – This article presents a range of views from academics, speakers, students and others on the cancellation of the course and its implications for political debate. In SCMP, 16 September 2019.

Yale-NUS College Cancels Course on Dissent

By Elizabeth Redden – The president of Yale, Peter Salovey, expressed concern about the cancellation of the course and said Yale would review the decision to cancel the program. In Inside Higher Ed, 16 September 2019.

Liberal Arts for Asians

By Petrus Liu & Colleen Lye – The essay analyses the curricular design process of the college’s ‘literature and humanities’ common curriculum course, as well as one faculty member’s experience of teaching a course on modern Chinese literature and film, to highlight both the potential and the challenges of liberal arts education in the context of Singapore’s postcoloniality and neoliberal economy. Published in Interventions (2016) 18:4 DOI: 10.1080/1369801X.2015.1126194. PDF available at

Is Yale a Reliable Partner for NUS?

Michael Montesano turns on its head the question of whether Singaporean universities are worthy partners for the Ivy Leagues. A long-time Singapore resident, Yale alum, and former NUS faculty member, Montesano shows how Yale was reckless in its pursuit of the partnership, raising doubts about its ability to be a responsible long-term partner for Singapore. In Global Higher Ed, 3 April 2012.

Why 1 + 1 = 3 at Yale-NUS

Daryl Yang, a student of Yale-NUS, suggests that liberal education should not avail itself only to societies that already subscribe to liberal values. – In Medium, 12 March 2018


Strides made, but some way to go for Government to quench thirst for data

By Kenneth Cheng – Academics face difficulties accessing data, hindering research into Singapore, and affecting society’s ability to understand itself. In TODAYonline, 13 July 2019.

PJ Thum’s treatment will dampen Singaporean academics’ willingness to speak out

By Linda Lim – Politicians’ disparagement of historian’s research signals that alternative interpretations of the city state’s past will not be tolerated. In Times Higher Education, 21 April 2018.

The mystery: Are activists and artists being locked out of academia?

By Tan Tarn How – Artists and activists say they have been denied jobs in academia or asked to leave their full-time or part-time jobs in our universities, polytechnics and sometimes schools. In Tan Tarn How’s blog, 30 October 2017.

Reputational risk

By Cherian George – One academic’s experience with political interference in universities. In Singapore, Incomplete (2017).

The fog of fear

By Cherian George – If the rules are going to stay, they should at least be clarified. In Singapore, Incomplete (2017).