The Heart of Learning

The Heart

of Learning

CHAPTER 6: WHAT'S SO SOCIAL? CHANGE, INTEGRATION AND SOCIAL RESILIENCE

The Heart of Learning aims to inspire change, and communicate SUSS’s character and passion through its: Sense of social mission and service to society; Practice educational orientation that gives direct application to the learning acquired and impact in the respective professions; and Focus on the development of key lifelong learning skills in its learners.

How should society in general, and Singapore society in particular, deal with social change?


This is the question Professor Tan Ngoh Tiong from the S R Nathan School of Human Development asked in his essay, “What’s so Social? Change, Integration, and Social Resilience”, which constitutes Chapter 6 of the book, “The Heart of Learning”. The anthology of essays was published to commemorate the autonomous university status of SUSS.


Here, the professor shares his views on how Singapore can navigate its way through choppy waters ahead.

A reflection on the pursuit of enabling students with a social consciousness to develop character and social awareness to instil a “spirit” of caring and sharing.

Gregory Francis Columnist

In an age of dynamic societal changes and upheavals, the student is faced with multi-faceted challenges. There is a need for students to work in multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural teams to solve problems, using available information and data and at the same time, develop communication skills to remain relevant. Such interaction, especially in overseas service-learning projects, will improve skills and knowledge and more importantly, character enhancement. Amid such “pressure-cooker” conditions, the well-rounded student who generally thrives in academia and actively serves the community will have an edge in looking for jobs in an extremely competitive environment. Employability for a new generation of graduates has become more complex, unlike in the past, where graduates were generally assured of getting the “iron rice bowl” of guaranteed lifetime employment. While internship plays a key role, it sometimes does little to prepare students for work. Employers need to invest time and training to make it worthwhile for both themselves and the students. The inculcation of corporate mission for students to participate in social causes is vital as such collaborations will definitely enhance social consciousness and raise social awareness to lift the “spirit”. Alumni in the corporate world or as industry partners can serve as the channels needed to engage students in real-world problem solving. Graduates not equipped with a social dimension will be, to a large extent, disadvantaged in a multi-cultural work environment. Without this vital social consciousness and awareness, graduates could have lower levels of job satisfaction, work commitment, job involvement and internal work motivation. This leads to lower productivity levels and subsequent irrelevance in a fast-evolving labour market that drives knowledge-based economic growth. As a result, the mantra of the “Heart” needs to be philosophised to our students and alumni as the “Heart of Learning” – the social mission of the University.

Interviewed by Lim Qiu Ping

May the message resonate with the students and alumni of SUSS that education begins with and has the power to touch the heart.

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