Anthropology at Yale-NUS: Vision Statement

Anthropology at Yale-NUS enriches the minds and lives of our students through critical analysis and encounters in communities and with the lives of others in a globally connected world from the perspective of Asia. Located in Singapore, our undergraduate programme is unique in combining world-class education and training in the classroom with experiential knowledge as the foundation of the major. We realise that the understanding of human affairs must be deeply grounded in the lives of people and in communities as well as the life of the mind. Our students engage their world with a critical and practical disposition towards the social, political, economic and cultural forces that inform social life. Anthropology at Yale-NUS prepares our students by helping them generate new knowledge that is useful for local communities as well as for global networks that define their own lives in ever-increasing new ways. In all the spaces that Yale-NUS anthropology inhabits — be it in our research, in our classrooms, and in the communities of people where we learn and work — we respect the essential worth of all people who live differently from our own as the crucial foundation for becoming engaged global citizens and future leaders.

As they say, origins are not destiny, and anthropology too has gone well beyond its origins as a science of the colonial enterprise. Nowadays, our interlocutors are “exotics no more”—even as the value of the familiar-strange perspectivalism that is native to anthropological inquiry endures. Anthropologists not only study “others,” but work to better understand our own forms of sociality. Anthropology also enables the flourishing of what some thinkers (Fanon and Gramsci, respectively) have called “native intellectuals” and “organic intellectuals.” Moreover, anthropology today doesn’t treat “cultures” as if they are unchanging entities. The discipline gives us tools to create new knowledge about how people navigate political systems, and engage the economy or endure economic crisis. We query how nationalism enables ideas of community and generates social exclusion. We learn how scientists, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals work, think, and shape policies and institutions. In short, the perspectivalism of anthropology allows us to study cultural continuity and change in diverse domains of social life.


  • Quality teaching and learning.
  • Opportunities for individuals to realise their full potential.
  • The rigours, joys, and fulfilment of intellectual discovery.
  • Supportive and collegial relationships.
  • Respect for diversity and individual differences.
  • Service to society.