Reading Groups

Reading Groups bring together students, faculty members, practitioners, and researchers from multi-disciplinary backgrounds to think together about topics specific to each reading Group’s theme. They aim to help students deepen their knowledge through in-class discussion, talks by invited speakers, and projects/interventions, guided by relevant readings from literature.

Reading Groups are not credit-bearing. Participation in a Reading Group will take approximately two to three hours per week during Semester.

CAPTains who are unable to take a college module to fulfil residency requirements can contact the Director of Studies to seek approval to participate in a Reading Group instead, on a case-by-case basis. This will usually involve writing an additional paper.

Here are the Reading Groups offered this semester (AY2017/2018 Semester 2).

Photography Movements

  • Why do phones have cameras?
  • How many photos a day do you see in social media, and how many do you have on your smartphone?
  • What’s in an image and why do we take, and look at so many of them?

Perhaps a better question is, why do they look so much the same? If you are looking to improve your photographs, and study some of the best photographs in history, this Reading Group is for you. We will study some of the important photography movements in history, and you will do your best to imitate the aesthetic of each movement we study. (No DSLR or special camera required.)

Our emphasis will not be the technical aspects of photography (the features of a DSLR and how to use them), but different aesthetic schools of thinking and how the camera was, and can be, used to capture images. Furthermore, how do individuals and societies respond to such images.


This group will meet on Tuesdays (16 Jan, 23 Jan, 30 Jan, 6 Feb, 13 Feb, 20 Feb, 6 Mar, 13 Mar), from 6-7:30pm in SR6 . The first session will be held in Week 1 (students who signed up will be informed via email). The first two sessions will be with Academic Visitor, Pia Johnson.


Prof Greg (

Photo credits:

Dayanita Singh

Rinko Kawauchi

Okinawa Soba

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Minorities & Languages
This reading group will explore the policies, challenges and research related to minorities and languages, with a special focus on Singapore and the region.

Why is Mandarin an official language in Singapore and Hokkien only a “dialect”? What is the difference between a “dialect” and a “language”? How and why has the number of Indian languages available as Mother Tongue in schools expanded since independence? Why have other Southeast Asian countries chosen some languages over others for official status? The group will discuss these questions and consider how language and education policies relate to concepts of identity, ethnicity and nation building.


This group will meet on Tuesdays, from 6-8pm in SR4. The first session will be held in Week 3 (students who signed up will be informed via email). The dates for the rest of the sessions will be announced at the first session.


Ms Wong Soon Fen (

Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart (

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Regions – Formation or Failure?
This reading group will explore the historical emergence and construction of different regions, such as Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Latin America. It investigates the factors that form a region, be it language, culture, economics, politics, geography, or a combination. Among the broader issues that the group will discuss:

    1. What is the concept of “regionalism” and what is a region?
    2. Examine the politics, economics and history of regionalism (challenges to integration, and success and/or failure of regional cooperation and integration);
    3. Investigate external and internal factors that shape regional cooperation or regional disintegration;
    4. Assess regional organisations such as ASEAN, EU, Arab League, NATO, etc.
    5. Discuss current affairs (such as Brexit; Crisis in the Middle East; Sanctions on Qatar; China’s new form of regional and global integration with its ambitious project, the One Belt One Road; and the South-South cooperation.)

To explain Brexit and the rise of the Trump phenomena, social scientists have rushed to reassess globalisation and integration, examining their impact on domestic politics and affairs. The main query that is being investigated is whether the benefits of globalisation have been equitably shared among all sections in society over the past two decades. While the US is moving towards protectionism, China with its One Belt One Road (OBOR) represents a new form of 21st century globalisation. The group will explore how different is OBOR from the Western form of globalisation and integration.


This group will meet on Mondays, from 4-6pm in SR5. The first session will be held in Week 3.


Assoc Prof Reuben Wong (

Dr Linda Matar (

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Healthy Communities - From Research to Reality
Healthy Communities (HCRG) is an interdisciplinary Reading Group for people who are interested in bridging the gap between evidence and practice, and in examining the real-world issues that individuals, communities and health systems face in trying to improve the health of populations.

Last semester, the HCRG used a case study approach to understand the principles for meeting health needs in different countries, and how these needs are being addressed through global health programmes that function in many different ways – from rolling out new technologies and medicines…to improving access to health services…to changing behaviour, population-wide.

In Semester 2, the Reading Group will be applying these principles to mini-projects in collaboration with local healthcare partners. These projects will be designed to provide a glimpse of questions that health programme planners and implementers face on the ground, and the steps that are taken to answer them. Readings will be assigned that are relevant to the specific topic, as well as to general principles of population health.

We are again privileged to have Dr Liow Chee Hsiang from Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health as a co-convener for the Reading Group this semester. Dr Liow worked as a public health physician in China for 15 years, during which he directed operations for an international NGO, and was involved ‘on the ground’ in developing and evaluating programmes related to HIV and other diseases.

If you are (a) interested in finding out more about global health and what factors contribute to the success, or otherwise, of health programmes in diverse populations, and (b) committed to the reading and preparation for each session, you are welcome to join the group. You can also attend the first session before you decide. Please sign up here to indicate interest.


This group will meet on Wednesdays, from 5-6:30pm in SR4.

Note: The first session is on 31 January. Please sign up as soon as possible (preferably by 19 January to facilitate planning for mini-projects. The minimum number for the group to go ahead this semester is 8 CAPTains.

Is this the right Reading Group for me?

If you are (a) interested in finding out more about population health programmes and what factors contribute to the success, or otherwise, and (b) committed to contributing actively to the mini-projects and the reading/preparation involved, you are welcomed to join the group. You can also attend the first session before you decide. Please sign up early to indicate interest.


Assoc Prof Adeline Seow (

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Green Stories
Singapore’s green spaces are stories in the process of being told, with its own cast of characters, conflict, and unexpected plot twists. This interdisciplinary Reading Group explores both the biophysical and social changes that created Singapore’s parks and gardens. The group will also investigate how these green spaces impact social life, shaping how Singaporeans interact with each other and how the city maintains itself.

This semester, the group will focus specifically on the politics and pressures that create Singapore’s parks and public gardens. What are the hidden costs of dedicating natural spaces for leisure? What makes a “garden” and who does the work of turning it into a “park”? Join us as we explore the issues behind these green spaces, and the compromises made in order to sustain them.


This group will meet on Thursdays, from 4-6pm in SR3. The first session will be held in Week 3.


Dr Toh Tai Chong (

Dr Yasmin Ortiga (

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Game, Community & Society
Games have always been an integral part of community life. The Ancient Greeks introduced the Olympic Games. The Romans built spectacular arenas. Today, games are everywhere. The global games market is estimated to exceed 100 billion USD  in 2017. This Reading Group aims to find common threads among various games, analyse reasons for their success and critically evaluate their role in society. The group will be of interest to those who wish to understand the basics of game theory, game design, game addictions, and the impact of games on communities.


This group will meet on Thursdays, from 4-6pm in SR5. The first session will be held in Week 3.


Dr Daniel Jew (

Dr Alberto Corrias (

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