I have just finished taking part in a two-day planning session for the liberal arts college that Yale University and the National University of Singapore (NUS) are collaboratively designing, called Yale NUS College (or YNC). It is scheduled to open in Singapore, adjacent to the main NUS campus, in Fall 2013, and the first wave of faculty recruitment will take place this fall. A great deal about the structure of the college and its curriculum is still in flux; teams of faculty and administrators from Yale and NUS, and more recently some invited faculty from colleges and universities in the US, are continuing to debate many aspects. But Chinese and/or comparative philosophy is likely to play a role, so I thought I’d report a bit here.
The idea of YNC is to re-envision what a liberal arts college, and undergraduate education, ought to be like in Asia, which mostly lacks liberal arts insitutions (though there are various liberal arts-related initiatives underway in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and elsewhere). The basic structure will combine a largely shared academic experience during the first two years (curently envisioned as a Core consisting of three streams: Great Works, Social Issues and Methodologies, and Science) plus a single major during the third and fourth years, as well as room for vaious electives at different stages. (Please keep in mind that all of this, especially including the titles of the streams, are very much subject to revision.)
There’s a great deal that’s interesting about all of this, but for present purposes let me concentrate on its relation to the topic of our blog: Chinese and comparative philosophy. First of all, the Great Works stream is quite explicitly envisioned as including important Chinese philosophical texts, though which ones will be included during which years remains a decision to be made by the faculty once it is assembled. Second, there are good reasons to think that the philosophy major itself will be structured so as to stress the importance of multiple philosophical traditions (not just for comparison, but their creative interaction at various times in the past, and potentially in the future).
This will, naturally, require faculty who are interested in and able to teach such courses, and more generally are excited about building YNC. Keep your eyes open for job advertisements, which should be appearing this fall.