On Monday 5 November, I had the opportunity of meeting Dr Helena Pimlott-Wilson and Dr Sophie Cranston along their students from Loughborough University. The group had visited Singapore for a one-week field trip as part of their geography course on Global Cities. The theme focus of that day was on education and youth. NUS and UTown served as their focal point to explore and reflect upon what education and youth have to do with global city and nation-building.
It was a joy showing the Loughborough group around UTown and Yale-NUS College, which allowed me to briefly explain to them the unique experience that NUS is creating through these two educational infrastructure projects ranging from campus accommodation and student life to curriculum and educational inequality, but also linking to wider national goals that connect urban aspirations and citizenship-making. Clearly, the students were impressed by the UTown design and facilities – a couple of them were even considering postgraduate study here!
The afternoon was spent on a visit to the Red Box, home ground for the Youth Corps. We listened to a presentation about the state of youth citizenship and participation in Singapore, the program aimed at promoting active citizenship among the young, and challenges of doing so. The Q&A dialogue was productive and interesting, especially with the inclusion of youth volunteers sharing their experiences and aspirations of being part of Youth Corps. It became clear that a lot is being done to encourage youth participation, but also more research and detailed study is needed to survey the intricate questions around this – who are the people participating, and how gets excluded? What kinds of participation is valorised and what activisms are overlooked? How to prolong the lifespan of citizenship beyond youth, and who can we partner with to achieve this? What differentiated citizenships are produced through the program, and how to be even more inclusive and attentive to diverse citizenship aspirations and goals? These are all exciting areas of research waiting to be done!
A shout out to Youth Corps for hosting us all! And, of course, thanks to the Loughborough team for an interesting day packed with wonder, curiosity, and critical thinking.
What we learned from Youth Corps: