NUS Masters in Environmental Management 10th Anniversary Celebrations
By Bhavani Prakash
Given the complex nature of various environmental issues, the solutions going forward require an increasingly cross-disciplinary approach that can weave together different perspectives. University education all over the world has to move in that direction.
One such example is The National University of Singapore’s Masters in Environmental Management (MEM) degree. It is the first interdisciplinary post-graduate program within the university (and perhaps one of the very few in Asia) that brings together various disciplines such as Arts and Social Sciences, NUS Business School, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Science and the School of Design and Management.
The 10th Anniversary celebrations of MEM on December 15th and 16th, 2011 were opened by Associate Prof Lye Lin Heng, Chair, MEM Programme Management Committee, with the welcome address by Prof Heng Chye Kiang, Dean, School of Design and Environment, and a speech by Prof. Tan Eng Chye, Provost, NUS.
1. Professor Heng Chye Kiang ,Dean,School of Design and Environment, NUS 2. Professor Nicholas Robinson, University Professor for the Environment with the School of Law, Pace University, and Adjunct Professor with the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, US 3.Mr Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam 4.Associate Professor Lye Lin Heng, Chair, MEM Programme Management Committee (Faculty of Law), NUS 5.Professor Tommy Koh, Chair, MEM Advisory Committee, NUS 6.Professor Tan Eng Chye,Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, NUS 7.Professor George Ofori, Department of Building, School of Design and Environment, NUS
Prof Lye outlined the journey and the inspiration behind the MEM programme as a ‘bottom-up’ initiative from faculty members interested in environmental issues. This interest has been sustained and several faculty members are also part of the new Bachelors of Environmental Studies (BES) programme.
Mr Kamal Malhotra, who was the Guest of Honour lay his faith on Asia’s strength and resilience which was evident in the face of economic crisis. Climate change affects us all, and he hoped that Rio 20+ meeting would yield something more concrete than the COP17 climate conference at Durban. He also wished for Singapore to contribute to the Climate Development Fund.
The keynote speech was delivered by Prof Nicholas Robinson, University Professor for the Environment, School of Law, Pace University, New York, and Adjunct Professor, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, USA.
By 2025, South East Asian cities will hold 225 million people, about 60% of national populations. While cities are centres of innovation, industry and commerce, they also lack elements of sustainable development, such as potable water, sanitation, housing, and even the measures to attain sustainability. Prof Robinson urged the importance of “embracing sustainability as a holistic concept, not as one anti-thetical to development, but rather being the foundation of socio-economic wellbeing. Major companies have a sustainability manager next to the president or CEO, and mayors of cities needed to do likewise to take the leadership role in making cities sustainable. Along with honest and open governance, insurance systems to protect from environmental damage, market reforms to support sustainability, Prof Robinson also touched on the need to further public education about sustainability. One way to do this was through formal education, such as the MEM or the BES programme of NUS. Informal education, through public participation of environmental impact assessments were also important.
MEM’s 10th Anniversary Commemorative book was also launched on the day. Entitled “Environment and Climate Change in Asia” and compiled by Prof Victor R Savage and Prof Lye Lin Heng. This was a welcome addition to a small but growing body of literature, both online and offline on environmental issues in Asia.
NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye, Associate Professor Lye Lin Heng from the NUS Faculty of Law, and Professor Victor Savage from the Department of Geography at the launch of the commemorative book titled “Environment and Climate Change in Asia: Ecological Footprints and Green Prospects” .
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