HISTORY IN THE MAKING: NUS FASS dean Professor Lionel Wee (left) and CSGB president Dilbagh Singh signing the MOU on the Visiting Professorship in Sikh Studies at Central Sikh Gurdwara on 14 April 2022, witnessed by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence Heng Chee How – Photo: NUS
By Asia Samachar | Singapore |
Singapore is firmly on the way to establish the Visiting Professorship in Sikh Studies to promote academic scholarship in Sikh studies both in Singapore and globally.
The Sikh studies professorship at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is a first in Asia, outside the Indian subcontinent.
On Thursday (April 14), NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise the visiting professorship expected to commence in 2023.
“We recognise the importance of raising awareness of Sikh philosophy, including arts, culture, values and history, the Sikh way of life, and the study of the Sikh and Punjabi communities globally, not only amongst NUS students but also in the wider community,” CSGB immediate past president and board member Baljit Singh said in a statement released by the NUS.
He said CSGB began fundraising efforts in 2019 in conjunction with the 550th birthday of the founder of Sikhism – Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji.
“These efforts were delayed when the COVID-19 pandemic struck but we are glad they are now back in full-swing. We believe the professorship will leave a legacy for young Sikhs and help Asians gain a better understanding of Sikhism and the Sikh Diaspora,” he added
The CSGB aims to raise S$1.2 million for an endowment fund to support the Visiting Professorship, with donations receiving dollar-for-dollar matching by the government.
“We have raised about RM230,000 so far,” CSGB president Dilbagh Singh told Asia Samachar.
The MoU was signed by Dilbagh and NUS FASS dean Professor Lionel Wee, witnessed by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence Heng Chee How.
The signing ceremony was held at the Central Sikh Gurdwara (Central Sikh Temple) on the sidelines of Vaisakhi, a significant event for Sikhs to celebrate the birth of the Khalsa which was established in 1699. Heng, who is Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar GRC (Whampoa), attended the event as guest-of-honour.
NUS expects the Visiting Professorship in Sikh Studies to attract distinguished scholars in the field.
Aside from assuming stewardship for enhancing research from an academic perspective, the appointed visiting professor will teach elective modules open to students in NUS FASS as well as other faculties in the University, according to the statement.
The visiting professor will also conduct public seminars for the Sikh community, in coordination with CSGB. Administered by the NUS FASS South Asian Studies Programme, the first professorship will commence in 2023 with each professorship lasting a term of five months. It will be administered by the NUS FASS South Asian Studies Programme.
“Understanding and appreciating cultural and ethnic diversity is becoming an increasing global priority. NUS FASS is very pleased to partner with CSGB in this pioneer endeavour and to play a part in facilitating understanding in Singapore and the region,” Prof Lionel Wee said in the same statement.
“It is a welcome opportunity for students to not only learn more about Sikh culture and its way of life through academic scholarship, but also to amplify research findings to a broader audience through planned public lectures. The introduction to Sikh Studies through this new professorship is another step that the Faculty is pursuing to create more opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of diverse cultures in society.”
The statement added that the global search for the visiting professor will begin in May 2022 and the first teaching module is expected to be introduced in January 2023.
NUS South Asian Studies Programme head Associate Professor Rajesh Rai said: “There are about 15 renowned experts in the field and we hope to attract scholars who may be interested to spend some time at NUS, to impart their knowledge through teaching and to further their research. This is a great opportunity”.
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