NTU launches 3 new undergraduate degrees in 2014

While NTU provost Freddy Boey admitted that offering a philosophy degree may seem like an odd choice for a science and engineering institution, he said this one will be different. It will include courses such as philosophy of science and philosophy of technology.

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Here is the press release from NTU in full:

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) continues to widen options for students with the introduction of four unique programmes beginning in the new academic year this August.

The four undergraduate programmes, specially designed to enable NTU graduates to seize opportunities in today's competitive global workplace, in line with the growing demands of the economy are:

· Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Earth Systems Science;

· Bachelor of Art (Honours) in Philosophy; and

· Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) with a Second Major in Business, where students can choose from four specialist tracks in Business; and

· Second Major in Food Science and Technology for science and chemical engineering students.

NTU President, Professor Bertil Andersson said, "The world is changing around us, and it's important for NTU to keep up with those changes and prepare our young people for the future. As Singapore's economy continues to move up the value chain, we also need to inject greater innovation and creativity, and equip our graduates to meet the rapidly changing needs of the society and industry.

"The new programmes at NTU will offer students more options and flexibility to pursue diverse career goals. More importantly, the more study options our students have, the more interfaces and opportunities there will be for interdisciplinary learning and knowledge, which will be important in the working world when they graduate. I'm a strong believer that new knowledge springs from the interfaces of disciplines, and this will give Singapore a strong competitive edge in the long run," Prof Andersson added.

Echoing this view, NTU Provost Professor Freddy Boey said, "As a university, we need to think ahead of the curve and project where the demand will be five to 10 years down the road. I would like to see every NTU graduate have a relevance to our economy, in one way or another, and make an impact on the future."

Environmental Earth Systems Science

The first such degree programme in Singapore, NTU's new Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Environmental Earth Systems Science is offered by the Division of Earth Sciences, in collaboration with NTU's two national Research Centres of Excellence, the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE).

The interdisciplinary programme will equip students with both deep and broad interdisciplinary knowledge about the Earth and enable them to examine the interactions between the planet's systems, including the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and the solid earth.

Taught by some of the world's top professors, including Professor Kerry Sieh who heads the EOS, and tectonics expert Professor Charles Rubin, undergraduates will learn the skills to tackle some of the big global issues facing the world today, with a special focus on Asia. This includes human impacts on the environment, effects of the environment on humans (such as climate change and natural hazards), and the implementation of alternative energy systems.

Prof Sieh explains, "One thing that is really missing in Singapore - and much of the world - is the concept that the Earth works together as a system. It's not just tectonic plates moving around by themselves or ocean currents circulating by themselves; everything works together as a whole. Unless young people are educated as earth systems scientists, they won't get those connections. And it's those connections that are actually so important to building an enduring and sustainable human society."

Prof Rubin adds, "A lot of things that we humans do have unintended consequences, because we don't understand how the whole system works together. And that's what we want to achieve in educating our students. This will make our graduates more competitive in getting jobs and more successful in their jobs. And their companies will also be more competitive, because they'll spend their money more wisely. For example, when they develop a coastline, they'll think about storm surges like what happened in the Philippines, and won't repeat those mistakes."

For a start, only 30 students will be admitted into the programme based on their academic results and interviews. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to participate in field courses abroad, including an introductory field course in Bali at the end of their first year of study, and if interested, overseas study for one semester at a university of their choice.

After their freshman year, students will choose a specialisation based on their interests and career goals. This can be in Geosciences that will equip them for exciting jobs in natural resource exploration, water resource management, geotechnical consulting, and geologic surveying and monitoring. Those who specialise in Society and the Earth System will be most suited for employment in environmental and urban planning, or in business, finance, insurance and other companies that need to prepare for a sustainable future. Other specialisations in Ecology and Environmental Earth Systems will be offered in future years.

Engineering with Second Major in Business

NTU has combined the strengths of its two foremost colleges - the College of Engineering and the Nanyang Business School - to offer a new double major programme in Engineering and Business, which takes in only top students.

The four-year curriculum integrates the requirements of both the Engineering and Business majors, where qualified students can choose from 11 engineering majors and four business tracks.

In the first two years, students will take Business foundation courses together with courses in their specific Engineering major. At the end of their second year, students can opt for one of four Business tracks in accounting, finance, marketing or operations management. To strengthen interdisciplinary interaction, the engineering students will attend their business classes together with their peers at Nanyang Business School.

Professor Ng Wun Jern, Dean of the College of Engineering said, "The combination of engineering and business will produce a highly-valued mix of business leadership and credible engineering pedigrees. Students who take up this challenging and intensive programme will be equipped with knowledge and core competencies in both engineering and business, and this is crucial if we are developing future leaders who can understand and think beyond one discipline. This will give them a distinct competitive edge and market value over their peers. They will also be more mobile and have wider career options in diverse industries."

The double major in Engineering and Business programme is expected to take in an initial cohort of 30 students in August.


In addition to emphasising critical thinking and analytic writing, NTU's Philosophy programme features a distinctive interdisciplinary curriculum that includes courses on innovation and innovative thinking, such as the Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Technology, and the Philosophy and History of Great Ideas.

The pioneer class of 35 students will be exposed to innovative thinking beyond a particular area, whether technology or business or public policy, and as a process that takes place in every sector of society. The coursework also encompasses Asian philosophy, in order to give students a deep understanding of the cultural background of Singapore and the region. Philosophy students have the option to take up a second major or a minor which will also further enhance their employability.

Unlike a conventional Philosophy programme, NTU students are also expected to complete an interdisciplinary Final Year Project that centres on the theme of innovative thinking. For example, students could integrate their project work with their internship in which they can analyse and propose improvements to existing company processes and business practices.

Philosophy is the newest addition to the slate of social sciences majors at NTU's School of Humanities and Social Sciences. A popular subject, almost 2,000 students have enrolled in Philosophy courses as electives, since it was first introduced in 2011, and the number is expected to grow as more courses are made available.

Professor Liu Hong, Chair of the School said, "The study of Philosophy will help students develop critical thinking and other transferable skills that will enable them to better adapt to multiple fields and career paths. By combining Philosophy with another major such as Psychology or Economics, they can opt to become human resource managers, marketing or industry relations experts. Graduates from the programme will also be well-qualified to teach, or pursue postgraduate studies in law or journalism.

"Philosophy graduates may start off on the same footing as other graduates, but tend to earn more than their peers in mid-career. Famous philosophy graduates include former US President Bill Clinton, and business leaders Carly Fiorina and George Soros," Prof Liu added.

Second Major in Food Science & Technolgy

Last month, NTU announced the introduction of a second major in Food Science and Technology, offered in collaboration with Wageningen University from the Netherlands, one of the world's leading teaching and research centres in food science and technology. To also start this August, the new programme is open to 30 top NTU students pursuing undergraduate degrees in Biological Sciences, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Chemistry and Biological Chemistry. Upon graduation, they will receive a certificate jointly awarded by NTU and Wageningen University in food science and technology, in addition to their degree conferred by NTU.