By Timothy Lim
What distinguishes the USP academic community from other NUS groups? After all, it seems that our Masters’ Tea is no different from the numerous talks held over NUS and our events are just as random as the others. To me, it is the small everyday conversations, the informal discussions that take place during dinnertime chats, over Facebook groups, and along classroom corridors that make us unique. The Sessions is a natural extension to this aspect of community life, providing a platform for anyone to exchange views over issues of interest. It moves beyond USP classes, being limited neither by time nor grades but only the (low) opportunity cost incurred. It is a playground for different USP students to get to know each other, share their expertise over topics, and think critically together about an issue.
The Session runs on a unique format of a small sharing group, tapping on the interdisciplinary nature of USP to foster a community of mutual learners and collaborators. Each session features a sharing on an issue by a designated speaker followed by a longer discussion involving the rest of the participants. This allows for both depth and flexibility with participants shaping the direction of the discussions. We do not aim for debates. Rather, we wish to nurture meaningful conversations over issues. We hope that the dialectic process enables each participant to solidify their thoughts over the issue at hand as well as gain new insights and understand the diverse viewpoints held by others.
Over the past year, we have held sessions on de-extinction, moral education in schools, and more. Going forward, we aim to explore even more contentious and interesting issues. We are collaborating with individuals who have carried out ISM research to share some of their findings, just like the recent sharing by Justin on “Student Governance in NUS”. Collaborations with other academic groups such as Confluence and Earthlings (the environmental interest group) are also ongoing.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, drop by for the upcoming session featuring Gender Collective on “Feminism & its relevance to today’s society – Why the F**k should we care about Feminism?”, taking place on Tuesday, 03/09/13 at Chatterbox. It promises to be as exciting and thought-provoking as its title. Also, join our Facebook group (search “The Sessions”) for the latest updates. The Sessions – because coffeeshop talk may just be better than professorial pontifications.