The Singapore Experience

The Singapore Experience @ LKY School is a co-curricular programme designed to provide opportunities for developing a deeper and more critical understanding of public policy and administration in Singapore. It consists of various components:

  • The Bukit Timah Dialogues: A series of weekly lunchtime seminars where students get a chance to interact with Singapore leaders.
  • Angsana Evenings: Formal dinners where eminent speakers are invited to engage in lively dialogue.
  • Conversations: A series of informal chats with key figures in Singapore’s public sector.
  • Tours and Visits: A chance to visit key institutions and organizations in Singapore.
  • Singapore Film Club: Regular screenings of Singapore films followed by lively discussions.

In addition, students have the opportunity to learn more about Singapore through the following Singapore-specific modules.

Singapore-specific modules

  • PP5204 Evolving Practices of Governance in Singapore
    Writing in The New York Times, Thomas Friedman encouraged policymakers to emulate the prevailing attitude in Singapore of ‘taking governing seriously and thinking strategically’. This module is a critical exploration of the basis and implications of such a claim, focusing on features of governance in Singapore that may be viewed as unique. To achieve this, such features – particularly Singapore’s systematic attempt to manage risks and complexity – are discussed in the context of influential theories and models of governance. To bridge theory and practice, the module is team-taught by a top civil servant and a political scientist, both Singaporean.
  • PP5141 Post-Crisis Economics and its Policy Implications
    This course takes a multi-disciplinary, practitioner-driven approach to analyse Singapore’s public policies. It does this by integrating and applying three conceptual lenses, namely standard economics, the cognitive sciences, and organisation behaviour. We will first examine policies in Singapore through the lens of market failures and how economists have traditionally viewed the role of governments. We then examine the cognitive limits of economic agents and consider how behavioural economics offers the possibility of better policy design by taking into account people’s cognitive biases and limitations. In the third segment, we analyse the Singapore government through the lens of organisation behaviour. Throughout the course, we apply these lenses to various policy successes and failures in Singapore.
  • PP5142 Liveable and Sustainable Cities – A Singapore Case-study
    An unprecedented level of urbanization is expected worldwide, presenting immense resource challenges as well as opportunities for cities. It is critical that the future city leaders learn from urban pioneers and case examples, to gain insights into the urban development challenges of cities, and to make informed decisions based on the principles and practice of dynamic urban governance. Singapore is an example of a very dense city that is also highly liveable. The module will therefore focus on Singapore, analysed through the lens on the Liveability Framework, and brought to life by experts in various fields of urban development.
  • PP5150 Social Welfare in East Asia
    How is social welfare organised in East Asia? What are the unique strengths and vulnerabilities? This course examines the origins, structure, and performance of social welfare systems in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Korea, and analyses their distinctiveness relative to the mature welfare states of Europe and other developed economies. Students will be trained to combine major theoretical perspectives such as developmentalism, neoliberalism, and welfare regimes with empirical understanding of country cases using a critical and comparative approach.
  • PP5168 Public Service Leadership
    This module will help students to understand the concepts and practice of leadership and develop a better knowledge of public service. Students will be exposed to insights and best practices, with emphasis on the public service and learn the skills to develop into a capable leader. Students will learn to lead, anticipate the future, make decisions, know their bias, build teams, motivate, communicate, understand the public interest and become better leaders.
  • PP5201 Singapore: Global City, Global Risks
    Over the past decade, Singapore has been repeatedly assaulted by a variety of global risks such as disease pandemics; financial crises and terrorism that spread quickly in an inter-connected world. This module examines how Singapore as an open global city has been acutely exposed to the negative flows of globalisation.
  • PP5215 Changes in Singapore’s Political Economy
    This course is an overview of opportunities taken and the strengths obtained in the changes of the political economy of Singapore. It will cover Singapore from an East India Company settlement to its status as a Straits Settlement colony and then as a colony by itself, full internal self-government, merger with Malaysia and now an independent republic. Topics covered include how the political economy of Singapore coped with changes in the region, new commodities in the hinterland, population movements, global ideology, national aspirations, international finance, multinational corporations and economic volatility.
  • PP5229 Education Policy in Singapore: Comparative Perspectives
    Education is a significant area in public policy impacting individuals, families specific communities and society as a whole. It is widely seen as crucial to economic competitiveness, social cohesion and human development. In this module, students will learn about policy dilemmas, choices and consequences both in Singapore and in East Asia. Topics covered include access and equity issues, medium of institution, values and citizenship education and higher education.
  • PP5277 Singapore’s Development: A Comparative Analysis
    This course analyzes Singapore’s remarkable economic development experience and explores what other countries might learn from it. Topics include economic and social outcomes, initial conditions, proximate causes, and growth-enhancing policies, institutions, values, and political leadership. The class will dissect the lecturer’s recent book on Singapore, derive general underlying principles, and master operational concepts in a hands-on manner. In parallel with each week’s discussion of Singapore, students will work independently on a paper, evaluating the economic development experience of another country of their choice against the backdrop of Singapore’s case history.
  • PP5285 State-Society Relations in Singapore
    In 1991, Minister George Yeo famously declared that the banyan tree needed pruning for the undergrowth to thrive: Singapore’s strong state, deemed necessary for rapid post-colonial growth and development, had, it seemed, stunted the growth of contemporary civil society. This module explores the evolving relationship between state and society in a global city that appears to be liberalizing in some respects, and yet not others. Students will acquire a conceptual vocabulary for thinking about the state, governance, democracy, and civil society, through which case studies on issues including gender, class, welfare, the arts, and public morality can be discussed critically.
  • PP5298 Singapore’s Development Experience
    This module provides a survey of Singapore’s practices in public management and policy development from a comparative perspective. We will focus on innovations in public sector governance as main contributing factors for Singapore’s strong economic growth in the last four decades, and discuss underlying principles and rationale for these innovations. The course consists of two parts. The first part of the course introduces to students key elements of public sector governance in Singapore, including governance structure, civil servant system, policy development, policy implementation, and financial management. The second part of the course examines Singapore’s experience in policy development and implementation in selected sectors such as health care, housing, water supply, land transport, industrial development, information technology and telecommunication.
  • PP5299 Singapore: The City
    Singapore is both an Asian and global leader in urban planning and sustainable development. This module, co-taught by a Singaporean and an American (both political scientists), analyzes how Singapore has transformed itself in little more than four decades from a Third World city with dismal apparent prospects to the vibrant high-amenity First World city it is today. The module focuses on public policy formation and implementation, with particular attention to Singapore’s integrated pursuit of economic growth, environmental quality and sustainability, high-quality transport and housing, quality-of-life amenities, social peace, and nation building. Throughout, it links the analytics to real world examples, but mostly through sessions designed to enable direct interaction with policy-makers and civic organizations. Real world examples will also be drawn from other countries and urban regions.
  • PP5701 Economic Applications for Public Organisations: The Singapore Experience
  • PP5702 Public Administration in Theory and Practice
  • PP5705 Comparative Public Policy and Management: Singapore and Asia
  • PP5711 Urban Development and Policy – A Singapore Case-study