Academic freedom

Yale-NUS programme on dissent and resistance

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. On a separate page, we have compiled a selection of articles on the incident, as well as several articles on liberal arts education written prior to the latest controversy.


Speaking out of turn

By Teo You Yenn – The sociologist and author of This Is What Inequality Looks Like reflects on how the singling out of certain voices as illegitimate affects public discourse and democracy. On the author’s personal website, 8 October 2019.

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.

Spaces of Autonomy, Spaces of Hope: The place of the university in post-colonial Singapore

By Philip Holden – This article explores the background to and consequences of the resignation of B. R. Sreenivasan as the vice-chancellor of the University of Singapore in October 1963, after a public clash with the People’s Action Party state government, led by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. In Modern Asian Studies, 53(2): 451-482, March 2019 (paywall); draft preprint version available here

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).