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Yale-NUS College Cancels Course on Dissent

September 16, 2019
 
 

A course at Yale-NUS College on dissent and resistance in Singapore was canceled two weeks before it was scheduled to start, the Singapore-based The Straits Times reported. Yale-NUS president Tan Tai Yong said some of the planned course activities and speakers would “infringe our commitment not to advance partisan political interests in our campus” and potentially expose students to the risk of breaking the law.

Yale-NUS College is a joint project of Yale University and the National University of Singapore. When it was founded, in 2012, Yale faculty raised questions about whether Yale could maintain academic freedom in Singapore, a city-state faulted by human rights advocates for the severe limits placed on freedoms of expression and association.

The president of Yale, Peter Salovey, expressed concern about the cancellation of the course, which the university described in a statement as a “one-week outside-the-classroom offering starting in late September in which a small group of students would examine the political, social and ethical issues that surround democratic dissent, chiefly by hearing from those who have practiced it.” It was to be taught by the Singaporean playwright Alfian Bin Sa’at.

Salovey said Yale would review the decision to cancel the program.

“In founding and working with our Singaporean colleagues on Yale-NUS, Yale has insisted on the values of academic freedom and open inquiry, which have been central to the college and have inspired outstanding work by faculty, students and staff: Yale-NUS has become a model of innovation in liberal arts education in Asia,” Salovey said. “Any action that might threaten these values is of serious concern, and we at Yale need to gain a better understanding of this decision.”

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