ENVIRONMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY IN SINGAPORE
2015/2016, Semester 1
Non-Faculty-Based Departments (College of Alice & Peter Tan)
Modular Credits: GEM2906X ( 4 ) / UTC2402 ( 4 ) / UTS2402 ( 4 )
How ‘green’ is Singapore and how should we preserve biodiversity on this island?
This GEM explores the rise of the conservation ethic in Singapore. It traces the scientific, social and economic conditions that gave rise to the global environmental movement, and to its various expressions in Singapore.
Students will engage with stakeholders (scientists, officials, civil society) to understand the conflicts and collaborations between advocates of development and conservation. They will initiate their own conversations and give feedback.
The class will make field trips to evaluate state-civil society partnerships, learn about the history between environmental CSOs and the Government, participate in the International Coastal Cleanup, and debate choices and dilemmas for the future.
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
- Achieve basic scientific literacy on environmental issues relevant to Singapore (esp. biodiversity, water resources, and conservation/development)
- Be aware of environmental news happening in Singapore and around the region, and to understand how it affects the nation
- Engage with stakeholders (scientists, researchers, civil society, members of the public, and policy makers) on the value of protecting fragile ecosystems
- Appreciate the economic, social and political contexts of ‘development vs. conservation’ debates
- Take a position on the costs, benefits and wisdom of environmental protection
There is no pre-requisite for the module.
Small group lectures, combined lectures, tutorials (group discussion, team projects, case studies), IVLE.
There are weekly seminars, three to four guest speakers, and field visits spread out over the semester
There is no textbook for this seminar. Aside from the reading list, students are expected to be actively engaged in following environmental news and debates pertaining to Singapore and the region (both green and brown issues) through resources such as ‘WildSingapore News’ (
Students will also be organized in by Week 2 to smaller groups (of 3 to 4 students) for group projects and assignments. These include researching the interests and perspectives of various stakeholders (conservationists and civil society [e.g., Nature Society of Singapore], government [LTA, URA etc etc. ], scientists and academics. This will enable them to go deeper into the positions, values and metrics held by each stakeholder.
Each group will then make presentations and engage in group projects over weeks 3-10, and simulated negotiation towards the end of semester (Weeks 11-12).
Individual assignments are also given out through the course of the semester.
Read: Tan MJ 2011
11 & 12.8
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
Read: G. Yeo 1991; T. Lee 2002;
14.5.2014, Koh and Soon 2011/12
18 & 19.8
Gp Assignment 1: News roundup
Gp Assignment 2: Group presentations on CSOs (choose from list)
Read: Ho KL 2000
25 & 26.8
Tragedy of the Commons
Read: Hardin 1968
Combined Session 1: “Civil Society”
1 & 2.9
CS1: Thu 3.9
Sustainable development: Agencies in Singapore
8 & 9.9
Law vs public opinion; Past and Current Challenges
Combined Session 2: ICCS briefing by Dr Joelle Lai
Fieldtrip 1: ICCS, Sat 19.9 (Compulsory)
15 & 16.9
CS2: Thu 17.9
FT1: Sat 19.9
State of Singapore’s Environment
Read: Corlett 2013; Brooke et al 2002; BeMused Articles about Nature in Singapore.
29.9 & 1.10
Conservation battles in Singapore
[Read: Wee Yeow Chin; Liu Thai Ker, Population White paper, Land Transport White Paper]
Combined Session 3 (Sivasothi N)
6 & 7.10
CS3: Thu 8.10
Social media and advocacy
Read: Rail corridor/ CRL/ Forum letters (articles distributed in class).
Faizah 2013 speech on PWP/Nature; Desmond Lee 2014.
Fieldtrip 2: [Read: Masterplan; Population White Paper 2013]
13 & 14.10
FT2: Sat 17.10
Read: URA 1991; P. Ubin report 1990
20 & 21.10
Combined Session 4 (Thu 29.10):
Read: NSS Position paper on Cross Island Line.
27 & 28.10
CS4: Thu 29.10
3 & 4.11
10(PH) & 11.11
International Coastal Clean up and field trips
The module includes two fieldtrips.
One to Tanah Merah as participants of the International Coastal Cleanup and one to a Nature Reserve or URA Urban Gallery to appreciate conservation areas and the outcome of debates and possible ongoing debates in Singapore.
Field trip dates are fixed. Do not read this module if you are unable to commit to the dates below.
International Coastal Cleanup (19 September) [compulsory]
Field trip group1 (17 October)
Field trip group 2 (24 October)
There is no final examination for this module. Students are expected to submit individual and group assignments throughout the semester.
Weekly news roundup (10)
Stakeholder debate (15)
ICCS report (15)
Cancelled due to Haze
- Tragedy of the commons reflection (4-5 pages) (15)
- Quizzes (10)
- GE written reflection (10)
- Letter writing (10)
- Field trip 2 (Semakau landfill) reflections (10)
- Final reflection (3 pages) (15)
This module is currently open only to students of the College of Alice & Peter Tan, University Town
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week