In July 2019, some 200 students, representing 30 nationalities and 70 universities convened in SMU’s city campus for the annual Global Summer Programme (GSP).
Accepting its largest intake since its launch five years ago, GSP comprised 10 credit-bearing courses that drew upon the expertise of faculty from across SMU’s six schools.
The programme’s focus on Asia meant that all its components were designed to give students opportunities to understand and engage directly with Asian issues and regional perspectives. As a perennial highlight, GSP combined classroom lessons with field trips and company visits to allow students to connect taught concepts to the real world while gathering diverse perspectives about Asia from the wider SMU community of industry partners and alumni.
GSP students also had a myriad of networking opportunities to grow networks and friendships among students from diverse nationalities and academic disciplines, and with industry leaders and policymakers. This melting pot contributed to a rich exchange of ideas and perspectives, both in and out of the classroom.
Learning is enhanced by exposure to diverse worldviews and the growth of one’s ability to navigate multicultural contexts. As GSP 2019 student Orcun Dogmazer of Koç University reflected: “GSP broadened my worldview by giving me the opportunity to interact and learn from people of different backgrounds and perspectives.”
Experiential learning for critical insights
GSP 2019 embodied experiential learning, a hallmark of SMU pedagogy, through course-complementary company field trips and learning visits put together by SMU faculty.
SMU Professor of Organisational Behaviour & Human Resources (Education) Thomas Menkhoff took students in his ‘Innovations for Asia’s Smart Cities’ course to the Marina Barrage dam and reservoir in Singapore’s Central Business District to learn more about the country’s water sustainability strategies and innovations. Students taking Assistant Professor of Strategic Management (Education) Kenneth Goh’s ‘Social Entrepreneurship in Asia’ course visited social enterprises like Comcrop to learn about sustainable urban farming. Inspired, Benjamin Jacob May of the University of Pennsylvania said, “I’m now interested in creating a cool and amazing social enterprise that is both sustainable in its own facilities and operations as well as creating real change in society.”
During visits to SMU industry partners like Google, Salesforce, Decathlon, DHL, and Fujitsu, students interacted directly with regional decision-makers of these multinational companies to understand how their business models and strategies were adapted for success within Asia. Kalpana Alagesan of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay felt the visit to Google’s Asia-Pacific headquarters was ‘very relevant’ to what she learnt in class and gave her a glimpse of how businesses are run in Singapore.
This year, GSP featured a new initiative that brought students closer to regional policymakers and governments while augmenting case studies taught in courses such as ‘Economic Globalisation and Asia’ and ‘Screening Asia: History, Society and Politics in Films’. Organised in conjunction with SMU’s Wee Kim Wee Centre, a dialogue and networking session with the ambassadors of Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines to Singapore gave students the opportunity to dialogue with diplomats and hear unique perspectives on their countries’ latest economic and socio-cultural developments.
During their time in Singapore, students also experienced the vibrancy of its business, arts and civic districts from the vantage point of SMU’s city campus. Students like Chung Tsai Hsi from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology were taken on learning trips to iconic destinations like the Gardens by the Bay and historical areas like the Bugis and Bras Basah districts. Tsai Hsi later remarked that her experience from GSP was so positive that she was now considering working and living in Singapore, despite this being her first visit.
Engaging Asia through a global city university
GSP has grown from strength to strength since it began five years ago, but its organisers at the SMU International Office seek to raise the bar even higher.
As SMU celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020, prospective students can look forward to new elements of real-world problem solving and greater immersion in salient issues. Through a curriculum enhanced with first-hand learning experiences and engagement with diverse stakeholders in the region, students will understand and connect with Asia from SMU’s campus in the heart of Singapore city.