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GEOSPHERE 2012/2013

Because academic life is more than just your readings !

Inside this issue: Feature Content: Fundamentally Geographical How to reply to your friends when they ask what are you doing with a Geography major?

Feature People:

Feature Networks: Transport - insights to a passion We invite Nicholas from YJC to share his passions.

Come be part of Geosphere!

Publishing with Quality & Passion

Field Studies & Geogsoc!

Winner of the Geogphotochallenge - Photograph by Jasmine Ku MCI (P) 192/01/2013

FOREWORD It is now over 6 months since I plunged back into the world of NUS Geography after a 12-year hiatus. It’s great to be back! The Singapore of today is a very different place to the one I remember from the late 1990s. There seems to be ‘more’ of everything; more people, more cars, more MRT lines, more shopping malls, more gleaming office blocks, more tourist destinations…but also more park areas, more environmental awareness, more cultural events, more media outlets, more interesting local politics! To the newcomer (or more accurately in this instance, the returnee!) the pace of change is palpable and makes Singapore an exciting place to live and work. The Department has also changed dramatically, not least in the fact that there are now some 50% more faculty members than there were when I left in 2000. After a recent burst of recruitment activity, we are now a community of 35 academic staff, ably supported by 10 administrative and technical staff. Geography at NUS has become firmly established on the global map of research excellence, with widely recognized expertise in the areas of tropical environmental change, social and cultural geographies, and political and economic geography, among others. Some things remain the same, however. The Department is as friendly and collegial as ever, and as welcoming to new staff members and visitors. It is, as it has long been, a fantastic place to study and research Geography in all its varied forms. Another important constant is the continued energy and enthusiasm of the NUS Geographical Society. This 2013 edition of Geosphere is a testament to that. A Department’s strength and vitality is, ultimately perhaps, best judged by the quality of its students. On the evidence of the pages that follow, we are in safe hands on that front.

Head of Geography Neil M. Coe 2

Well Geog-gers, It seems that the Mayan 2012 prophecy didn’t quite end the world (and geography). We were frankly quite worried that there wouldn’t be trees left to print this magazine. This issue brings about much changes. The vision for this article was to present a visual and intellectual feast. A showcase of splendiferous photography and ideas from our department. This could not have happened without the extremely talented team and fantastic writers we have this year. 2012 was also delightful as we warmly welcome Neil Coe as our new Head of Department. Riding the wave of this change, this issue of Geosphere seizes the opportunity to “talk back” in our Feature article as we contend controversial discussions about all things in Geography. It would seem blase, for a discipline that highlights so much on the importance of networks, to not reach beyond our departmental boundaries as well! In Geonetwork, we have particularly have A’level student, Nicholas Lim, and a recent graduate Shaun Teo, to share how geography has come to influence their work and passion. The Geographical Society has a slew of exciting activities lined up in Geopop, a section for POPular activities for the undergraduate POPulation. We would like to hear more about how you think about the magazine! Do email any comments or feedback at If you have passion in journalistic writing or magazine publications, we would love to have you on board! Do send us a sample of your work (it’s okay if you don’t!), and your contacts to the email above. We look forward to recruiting committed and passionate members who have a strong interest in learning more about publication!

Claudia Wong Editor-in-Chief 3

Claudia Wong Editor-in-Chief


Claudia is a somewhat weary Masters student currently hoping that her thesis can write itself. She writes to keep herself entertained, as well as to keep herself out of the library. During whatever free time she can spare, she enjoys listening to music of all kinds, looking at beautiful things (and people) and butchering the piano. Intellectually driven, introspective and insightful, the number of “in’s” does not indicate that she lives in her head. Outgoing and outspoken, she is radical with ideas and often challenges set boundaries. With a conviction that social research is important in today’s global context, she is involved in many areas of studies within the social sciences that include statistics and critical theory at NUS.

Team 4

Aloysius Michael Chua Content Editor

Aloysius is an undergraduate who (after 4 years) is ready to get on stage and rock and roll. Armed with a wicked sense of humour, he likes to amuse and be amused in return. This jester is also a dreamer who often gets lost in his thoughts. When he’s not too busy being occupied with dreaming, he loves to rock out on his drumset and the occasional football game. He believes that soul-filled writing is a gift to both writer and reader and he tries to fill his soul and that of others with good writing. Never one to shy away from conversation, he thrives on meaningful interaction with people.

Joseph Daniels Content Editor Joseph Daniels is never in the same place for more than four months, living a simple life out of a single suitcase. In his free time, he investigates the architectural form of cities, explores local real estate markets, and feeds a mild obsession with all things small and sustainable—particularly cars and houses. With a fervently inquisitive mind, the mundane things such as tied shoes are often forgotten. He is introverted and intense, carrying with him a constant radical skepticism to the status quo and its forms of thought. He is a fourth year undergraduate honors student in the Joint Degree Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NUS. He is currently working on his honors thesis; a study of the financial spaces of Singapore’s local banks. His research interests are in the social science of finance, geographies of finance and money, economic geography, and the geographies of knowledge at UNC and NUS. 5

Foo Fang Yu Publicity Editor Fang Yu is currently a year two undergraduate who is proud to be a Geography Major. Her main belief is enjoying what she does so that she can treat work as play. An avid reader and piano player, she also likes saving up in order to travel. She enjoys moments of solitude, but never shies away from interacting and learning from people as and when she can. Fang Yu also believes in sincere writings which will convey a sense of warmth to readers. Lastly, she always likes to describe herself as being insanely spunky.

Kayley Ng Publicity Editor Kayley bakes a mean red velvet cake, or so her friends say. In her free time, besides honing her culinary skills, she enjoys braving the equatorial heat in Singapore, discovering the innovative forms of land use and stopping by Forty Hands in Yong Siak Street for a nice cuppa. Young and restless, Geography never fails to fascinate her as a subject which connects everything on Earth from past to present and natural to human processes. In school, Kayley alternates between being a Geography student and a passionate badminton amateur. 6

Kelman is a budding photographer that is learning the ropes and exploring the various genres of photography, hoping to get every photo opportunity that he can. When he is not snapping away he enjoys an arduous game of squash or frisbee with friends. Challenging himself, Kelman is adventurous and has a spontaneous streak in him. He greatly looks forward to his time in the Geography Department of NUS.

Lee Min Lin Layout Designer

Kelman Chiang Chief Layout Editor

Min Lin is a year 1 undergraduate who is relatively tired of people asking her what she can do with a major in Geography degree. As she loves talking to and meeting new people, she entertains them most of the time. However, it does sometimes get on her nerves when they ask if it’s only rocks that geographers’ study. So when she is not busy throwing rocks at these ignorant people, Min Lin enjoys spending time in church with her family and friends, playing the guitar and engaging in sports.

An explorer at heart, Grace loves Geography and finds it not only meaningful, but the most enjoyable couse of study. She has recently developed a new found craze for pistachio ice cream; and a good day for her would consist of cycling, browsing through design books, and wandering around discovering the city. She spends much of her time in Angsana College involved in publicity efforts and looks forward to spending more time reading & filming in the semesters ahead.

Grace Ann Chua Layout Designer 7


Bringing people and places together

GEO-NETWORK 101 with Neil Coe


An NUS Geography Education Taking You There, & Beyond.


Urban Imaginations & Reflections Across Europe


Transport: Insights to a Passion


34« Geoographical Society, Events and all things popular



Geography Photo Challenge


Seminar Series


The Geographical Society

Photo by Shona Loong


Last year, we had the privilege of welcoming Neil Coe into our Department as the Head of Geography. Professor Neil Coe has written extensively on economic geographies. Most of us taking Economy and Space would have used “Economic Geography: A Contemporary Introduction” which he co-authored! The Geosphere team Fang Yu and Kelman take a dive into some of our Head of Department’s thoughts…

101 with Interview by Foo Fang Yu Photos and Layout by Kelman Chiang


How much do you

know about Prof Neil Coe? Think he is just a famous geographer writing your economic geography texts? Talking to our new Head of Department, I found out that he can be off beat, dancing to the YMCA song (back when he taught at the University of Manchester), but more importantly he puts light into how valuable geographers are to this world and how we should take pride in doing a subject that we enjoy!


How has your time been after joining NUS? I know you came back after 12 years, so how do you feel coming back here? It’s been great! I was here from 1998 to 2000 as a lecturer and I then went to the University of Manchester for 12 years. On coming back here I took up the post of Head of Department straight away. But I haven’t been away for twelve years; I’ve been back visiting a few times and I have a lot of friends here. This is a great department and I feel I’ve settled in well. I’m really enjoying it and things seem to be going fine.

What do you enjoy most about coming to NUS and Singapore? I enjoy being in the Department on a daily basis. I like just being in the Geography Department! Why is that? Because it’s so varied! There’s such a range of things that people do; it’s very broad and I like that breadth. The two best things about Singapore are the food and the opportunity to travel! I’ve got two kids and they both like travelling. We’ve been on a few trips and we’ve got lots more planned; we’ve been to Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam is next on our agenda. So those are the two things, the travel and food. 14

Do you like the changes you’ve seen in the university? Yes, for the most part. It’s what makes it exciting at work because it’s always changing. The University is getting stronger and more visible at a global level. The standards are set very high, and being an ambitious university it’s always trying to change, and I like that about NUS, although sometimes it does create extra work for us all!

Why do you choose to be a Geographer and subsequently Economic Geography? Well, my Dad was a geography teacher and I guess I always knew what Geography was about - I was always interested in that sense. At school it was the subject that I enjoyed the most, not the subject I was the best at! I used to get everything right at math and physics and people thought I would be an accountant or some such like! But I found those subjects boring. Geography was a subject that I was really interested in, and that was the reason I studied it at university. When I went to university I guess I was more of a physical geographer, I liked to do stuff such as drawing diagrams of rivers and glaciers! In my first year at Durham University, I shifted towards human geography. I found physical geography to be very scientific and I realised I liked the economic side more. I started to realise that inequality was driven by economic forces; it seemed to be a powerful way of explaining the differences in the world, and I guess I still think that.


What do you hope for our Geography majors to achieve from their education here? In a pragmatic sense, I hope you can get the job that you want to get. But why I think geography is good is that it is a great, broad degree. It gives you a range of strengths and skills i.e. scientific skills, writing skills, analytical skills, GIS skills and so on. Geography’s strength is its breadth. I like to think that breadth is an advantage in the job market. Yet it goes deeper than that, it definitely does. We also hope that you take some more philosophical views from your degree away with you, for instance in terms of your perspective on environmental issues, sustainable development, equality and fairness, global connections, and so on. So do we think geography is more than a broad skill-set? Yes, absolutely.

It is a way of approaching the world and understanding the world; and I guess at the heart of it is the interactions of people and environment together. We hope that you apply those skills in your future career and in that way make the world better.


What are your visions for our department? Well it is already a very strong department and there is nothing major that needs to change; we’re just looking at a steady growth and development. So it’s not a matter of changing things dramatically; our department is doing well and is highly ranked. The one area that we’re looking at would be the graduate school, we’re trying to steadily grow that and make it a bit stronger. There is no problem with the department that needs fixing; it’s a very strong department within the Faculty and it’s globally recognised, so it’s a matter of continuing to build on that. It’s also a matter of integrating the new staff we have appointed over the last couple of years. Beyond the graduate school, another area is to keep trying to make a wider impact. I came from the UK where there’s a big “impact” agenda at the moment, which is trying to say that academics shouldn’t just talk to other academics and teach students; they should also strive to make a difference in the real world. NUS is a national university, and geography deals with a lot of issues that affect people (climate change, urban planning, sustainability, economic growth etc.).

Therefore a wider aim would be to increase our influence on Singaporean society (and Southeast Asia more widely), in policy terms. It’s a matter of having an influence that goes beyond the University; I think Geography is the kind of subject that allows you to do that.


Is there anything you wish to say to the students here? Geography, at its best, is an ‘active’ subject. It’s about getting out there, interacting with the world, and trying to make a difference to peoples’ lives.


What would your typical day in NUS be like? I’m not teaching this year, so most of the time I’ll be handling the admin aspects i.e. meetings, talking to the admin team and colleagues, and generally learning how things work! There’s a real mixture. After twelve years, several things have changed and the University has evolved, so I had to catch up with that.


An NUS Geography Education -


& , e r e YOU th Shaun Teo Class of 2012 Event Executive [Marketing]

Munich Automobiles Pte Ltd [BMW ///M.]

Loves Sport and the business of Sport. Education. Urban Planning and Research. Tourism. Community development. Just a non-exhaustive list of what my peers have gone into post-graduation. Doesn’t particularly help debunk the oft-

proliferated “Geographers always become teachers or public sector workers” adage. However, this class of students (commencement class of 2012), characterized by their passion and a single-minded determination to pursue their fancies, has had much success in using their talents to honourable ends in their respective endeavours. The future did not choose them; they chose their own futures. 20

. d n o ey


Layout by Kelman Chiang

I must make an interesting case-study then, being one of the only ones from my class to have set foot into the private sector - the luxury industry no less. What do the rich and famous think about a degree in Geography? How would a fundamental knowledge of rocks, landforms, agriculture and urban development equip me to subserve their interest for the finer pleasures in life? Here I insist that the most

deeply-buried secret of geography (be it physical or human) in NUS, within and without the faculty, is that it provides one with the necessary resources to develop his/ her cognitive and intellectual competencies. Geography in NUS does not teach you

to become an expert in a particular set of subject matters. It does not inculcate certain behaviour. Rather, it lays bare parameters, which must be actively configured by the students of the discipline to culminate in unique “ways of seeing”. Being part of a dynamic marketing team for a luxury brand is extremely challenging. The stakes are high and the challenges change every day. My four years of geography education have allowed me to create and master my own set of competencies. I have managed to (re) present myself to others, conceptualizing and executing strategies to increase brand awareness and loyalty, as well as direct sales, and thrive in an environment where excellence is the norm. The networks I traverse and create within which I am embedded bring to life the places and spaces that I once only dared to dream about- very aptly providing me a veritable geographical experience. My peers chose their path, I chose mine. Even though our paths differ, we are all guided by our own passions- the reason why we chose to read geography in the first place. Guided by our education, we moulded our own set of competencies- our expertise, thinking, beliefs and social aptitude. That is the genius of geography in NUS. Public or Private, it doesn’t matter. NUS geography will take you there, and beyond. 21

Urban Imaginations & Reflections across Europe

Written and Photos by Flora Toh Year 3 Geography & Southeast Asian Studies Layout by Kelman Chiang & Lee Min Lin

The urban form is best understood when experienced; and no matter what economics or politics says, cities are about people, and people, about their cities. In the past 12 months, I have had the opportunity to travel and experience an exciting diversity of metropolises across Southeast Asia and Europe. While nowhere near exhaustive, experiencing and exploring these corners of the world has been about the physical – sounds, smells, sights, tastes and textures – as well as, perhaps more memorably, emotions and thoughts. I have attempted to capture these in photos in hopes of representing the urban imaginations of people and their everyday lives.

The Grand Canal VENICE, ITALY



Window in the Piazza Navona ROME, ITALY Street Signs



Beach in Monterosso CINQUE TERRE, ITALY


Park in Amstel District AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS One thing I really appreciated about European cities was the genuine effort taken towards making public spaces accessible and available to a variety of people. The park here was in the residential neighbourhood of Amstel, located in between the tram tracks flanking residences and shops. Greenery here is something that can be reached just by crossing a road, sitting on a bench, and appreciating the bustle of the city.

Hohenzollern Bridge COLOGNE, GERMANY



Transport: insights to a passion


Written by Nicholas Lim Layout By Grace Ann Chua & Kelman Chiang

Note from the Editor-in-chief: Geosphere is happy to extend beyond our campus boundaries to find like-minded individuals who share our passion for all things geographical! This year, we are happy to invite 18 year-old Nicholas, from Yishun Junior College to share candidly about his passion for public transport. We hope it brings inspiration to our undergraduates, where real activities of interests can be actualised beyond the classroom borders.

A passion

for transport has coursed through my blood since I entered primary school. Due to the high cost of car travel in Singapore my family and I used public transport just like any other average Singaporean. My passion for public transport wasn’t realised until 2008, when a friend in secondary school referred me to an online community of transport enthusiasts—SGForums. From then on, I got to know many people with the same passion for buses and trains that had developed in me over the years. For the first time, I was able to share my own experiences and information with my peers. You can probably see us when you are out an about taking photos and videos of buses and trains from time to time, especially when there is something new and meaningful to document, such as a new bus launch. However, in June 2010, when graffiti was spotted on one of the trains, the security of the public transport was questioned and much of our activities had to be undertaken with greater discretion. Sometimes, we were harangued by the police for taking photos and videos, mistaking our innocent documenting of what we saw as incredible events as being imbued with more nefarious intention, going as far as associating us with terrorists. Despite the increasing scrutiny, these annoyances did not deter us from joyriding on buses and trains. It works as a simple stress-reliever. 29

What I really find captivating about public transport is the design and the technology. Beyond Singapore, there are many innovations being explored in cities around the globe. I admire Japanese trains the most, because they have drawn on their advances in technology to design a beautiful and efficient train system. The Japanese train labour culture has also help boost the rail infrastructure. For instance, it is a standard for all trains to have a train driver and a train conductor who drives the train and operates the doors respectively. This specialisation allows the whole rail infrastructure to be more reliable and efficient. The rail industry in Japan is fast-paced due to the fact that new rolling stocks (train sets) are constantly fitted with the current most efficient motors and electric railway traction which draws current from the electric supply. Just recently, Japan Railway announced that Maglev Shinkansen service will open in 2027. It is capable of reaching 550 km/h and links Tokyo and Nagoya. The constant innovation is what drives my enthusiasm for public transport. 30

As our group on SGForums has developed, we started to establish connections with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as well as local public transport operators (PTOs). We often provide constructive feedback regarding the local public transport infrastructure to them. Increasingly we felt that we should start up our own organisation to create a better platform for information sharing and developing constructive feedbacks. We formed our own website, SGTrains, in January 2011. Soon enough, we were invited to a dialogue session with the Minister of Transport a few months later. The many panel discussions that I had experienced gave me many insightful views about the public transport infrastructure and offered me and my peers at SGTrains an opportunity to help shape the way LTA produced an efficient train system for Singapore.


We officially launched SGTrains when the Circle Line Stage 4 and 5 opened in 8 October 2011 to signify the co-operation between the PTOs and SGTrains. SGTrains currently has 321 forum members and 680 likes on its Facebook page. It has been a privilege for me and my team to be in the position to provide a forum such as SGTrains for all that may be interested. Despite having a hectic schedule in Junior College, I am contented that many of our suggestions have turned into real improvements. Such examples are the improvement of train announcements, increasing the amount of grab-poles in the train as well as procuring a wider range of buses to suit demands of our diverse urban population. However we all should know that creating a desirable public transport system is not something that happens overnight. To meet the demands of the average Singaporean commuter it takes time and space.


Nicholas Lim, a student at Yishun Junior College, is the Chief Executive Officer of Human Resources of SGTrains. SGTrains has been awarded the Friend of Land Transport award at the prestigious Land Transport Excellence Awards 2012 held biennially.


Photo by Esther Ho

Geography Photo Challenge

In Semester 1, we opened the doors to our budding photographers to send in their best work! The team was FLOORED with the impressive standards. While we picked our favourites (and winners), we felt those deserved to have their spot in the limelight as well. Here are the runner-ups in the Geosphere Photo Challenge! We look forward many more good entries next semester!

1 1 - Jocelyn Ng 2 - Yann Rong 3 - Shona 2 3


4 5

6 4 - Jocelyn Ng 5 - Yann Rong 6 - Annabelle 7 - Esther 8 - Anita 9 - Jasmine Ku


8 9


"I went for his seminar because I am interested in the notion of spatial justice and how it applies to Asian cities. More questions than answers arised after the seminar." - Faizal, Year 3 Geography Student

S e r i e

s 38

Written by Aloysius Chua Layout by Kelman Chiang

eminar Have

you ever wondered what our department does outside of research and teaching? The Geography faculty often attends and organise numerous seminars and workshops held throughout the year. These provide a forum for sharing of recent research findings and for discussions with colleagues and students. On top of our own seminar series, the department regularly encourages both faculty and students to attend seminars held by other NUS organizations. Let us take a look at some of these (in)famous speakers that have visited us in this academic year!

Dr. Chuthatip Maneepong Visiting Assistant Professor Center for Asian Research Arizona State University Community adaptation in the face of sea level rise - the case study of Bangkuntian, Bangkok, Thailand Dr. Maneepong co-lectured GE3239, Environmental Sustainability when she was a Visiting Lecturer at the department a year ago. Well-versed in both physical and human geography approaches, her published work ranges from climate change to Thai social issues. Dr. Maneepong is an expert in Thailand and has worked for the Thai government in policy development. Her expertise and academic training allows her to act as an important bridge between the academic and policy spheres. She is most interested in development and its impact on Thai Society. During her seminar in April 2012, she presented on the bottom-up approach of communities taken to adapt to rising sea level due to climate change. This is based on her research on Bangkuntian, Bangkok. These adaptation initiatives include the erection of green partitions such as mangroves. As a developing economy, Thailand faces issues with climate change adaptation and mitigation. Dr. Maneepong continues to be instrumental in generating policy relevant research, for the betterment of communities fraught with climate risk. 39

Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) Edward Soja Department of Urban Planning Luskin School of Public Affairs University of California, Los Angeles Seeking Spatial Justice in Asian Cities

Ed Soja with some of our 2012/2013 Honours Class students! Photo Credits: Nadine Koh


Professor Soja is known for his postmodern political approach to Geography as seen in his published works such as Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory and Seeking Spatial Justice. He has contributed richly to the discipline in spatial theory. Furthermore, he contributes to the discipline through his work on spatiality and advocates for spatial justice. Yet, spatial justice remains a challenge for planning policies and in recent years, interest and engagement with it has been rising in the social sciences. In January 2013, Professor Soja was invited by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy to speak on spatial justice in Asian cities. Similarly, his seminar raised many more questions rather than answers for those who are interested in the pursuit of spatial justice here in Asia. As interest and research increases in this field, we await more great contributions that Professor Soja will make.


Assistant Professor Simon Springer Department of Geography University of Otago, New Zealand Illegal evictions? Overwriting possession and orality with law's violence in Cambodia

Dr. Springer, formerly Assistant Professor at the NUS Geography department, has research interest situated broadly within the political, development, urban, economic, and social geography in Southeast Asia. He has published extensively on the issue of violence in Cambodia. In 2012, drawing on the contemporary cases of land dispossession, he presented research findings which concluded that illegal evictions sanctioned by the Cambodian state was operationalized through legal means. This violence is linked to the formalization of property arrangements through the legal system, necessary to implement neoliberal governance. This has contravened previous practices of ownership through oral agreements, replacing them with written agreements. Dr. Springer believes in pushing disciplinary boundaries and his current research focus is based upon Anarchist philosophy. By examining social issues such as violence through Anarchist praxis, he hopes to deliver fresh perspectives to the table. He also believes in the importance of an equal and open teacher-student relationship and his teaching philosophy seeks to flatten the power relations between the two. 42

Dr. Ilan Kelman Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research - OSLO Senior Research Fellow Islands, disaster risk reduction and climate change Dr. Kelman is very much interested in disasters associated with climate change and with the methods of reducing the risks of such occurrences. His research is mostly focused on Islands and their vulnerability due to their isolation and due to the threat of rising sea levels. He argues that there is no such thing as “natural� disasters because all disaster affects humans to one degree or another, depending on wealth and a myriad of other social factors. Most recently, he published Disaster Diplomacy: How Disasters Affect Peace and Conflict, which focuses specifically with political and social dimension of disasters. Through his research, Dr. Kelman is helping communities to understand risk and their options for dealing with it. His work also allows emergency management organizations to evaluate their operating procedures. He runs a website, that serves as a platform for public education. 43


Layout by Kelman Chiang

The NUS Geographical Society, more affectionately known as Geog Soc, is dedicated to serving the needs and welfare of geographers in NUS. Geog Soc aims to foster a close relationship amongst the students and faculty members through numerous Geography-related events held throughout the semester. The NUS Geog Soc is proud and honoured to have A/P T.C. Chang as our society advisor. Under his guidance, the society has grown stronger each year, continually reaching out to everyone with a keen interest in Geography. Visit us at: 44

Presenting the 47th Geography Society Management Committee:

Our Major Events Geography Challenge Jointly organised by the NUS Department of Geography and the NUS Geographical Society, the NUS Geography Challenge is the biggest nationwide Geography competition for secondary schools in Singapore.

Held annually since 1997, it has been noted for its large-scale engagement with schools and has benefited many generations of students aged 13 – 16 years old. In its 17th year running, GC2013 hopes to continue our quest to ignite passion and inspire secondary students to develop a keen interest for the dynamic discipline of Geography. For more information, visit GC2013’s official website:

“The geochallenge was one of the most challenging times in my secondary school days. I distincitvely remembered climbing Little Guilin at Bukit Gombak! It was a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience!” - Jasmine, class of 2005 47

Geography Department Open House & Careers’ Talk

Present at the Careers’ talk this year were(from left) Dr Jamie Gillen, Dr Karen Lai, Dr Neil Coe, Ms Irene Ho (Class of 1997), Mr Sean Bai (Class of 2010), Mr Vincent Kessler (Class of 2005), Ms Cheah Li Min (Class of 2008), Dr Chang and Dr Feng. 48

Every year, the Geog Soc assists the department in organizing the Open House and Careers’ Talk where we invite pre-university students to our department to find out more about what Geography at NUS has to offer. Besides that, a Careers’ Talk is organized exclusively for our Geography majors. Alumni members are invited by the department to share their experiences with existing undergraduates. The talk aims to provide a platform for Geographers to be informed of the career options made available to them.


An Overseas Field Trip (OFT) is organized annually for our Geography majors to various destinations including that of Hanoi (Dec 2011) and Hong Kong (Dec 2012). Supported by the department as well as a professor who goes along with the OFT group, we hope to explore geography beyond the context of Singapore, learning about Eco ventures in Hanoi as well as visiting places like the Ma Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong.



SPORTS DAY We had our annual Sports Day event on 25 January 2013 where teams of Geography majors came together to compete in exciting games of Floorball and Frisbee. It was a great opportunity for the majors to show off their sport prowess as well as bond over sports, clinching interesting prizes like packets of Salonpas, energy drinks and bananas.


As geographers, we are called to put on our geographical lenses and explore the world out there, beyond what we read. The NUS Geog Soc offers both our fellow course mates and staff exciting outings on a bimonthly basis. Apart from getting to learn more about the geographical landscape of Singapore, we hope to provide an opportunity for bonding between like-minded geographers.



In this AY, we have been to Keppel Bay/ Labrador Boardwalk on a guided mangrove tour by our geography professors Dr. Dan Friess and Dr. Jesse Hastings in October 2012. Our December post-exam outing to Gardens By the Bay was another exciting day out where we explored the two newly opened domes and examined the constructed nature within. The latest outing to the Marina Bay City Gallery in January gave us an insight to Singapore’s urban planning strategies, which added value to our learning.


In line with Geog Soc’s goal to serve as the bridge between the department and the students, a Major’s Tea session is held every year. Through this, students can provide feedback and raise any queries they have to the department in an informal setting. This also allows students to clear their doubts in an efficient manner and allow the department to be updated with the concerns of the student population.

Major’s tea



If you don’t already know what the Geosphere is, put this magazine away right now.

The Geosphere is the Geog Soc’s annual publication and a useful instrument of outreach for the department. Interested in knowing more about that new professor who just joined us? Yearning to read something beyond your readings for the semester? Each issue is filled to the brim with intelligent, insightful and fun articles from our talented crew. Distributed throughout the year, it serves to pique interest and create awareness amongst budding geographers about Geography at NUS. Interested in joining the team and reach out to the world with your talented writing and creative direction? Drop us an email at geogsoc.publications@


Recognising that studying places on campus are often packed during the weeks close to the examinations, the society has requested for the Earth Lab to be opened exclusively for Geography majors to use in preparation for the upcoming exams from the period of reading week to the end of exams. Do keep a look out for information on this semester’s study sessions coming your way! 55

Freshmen Immersion Camp Freshmen Immersion Camp (FIC) marks the start of a student’s university life; and every year, the FIC team strives towards creating a memorable experience for incoming freshers. It is often through the camp that Geography majors are introduced to their fellow peers and it is a starting point to build a close knitted Geography community. Existing Geographers can also be part of this memorable experience by joining us as facilitators or program masters. For more information on FIC 2013, visit our website at: or email us at:


Geog Soc Connecting with

Are you seeking to share your passion for Geography with like-minded people?

The Geog Soc is always here to engage our fellow Geography majors. We welcome you with open arms! If you are interested to know how you can take part, visit us as Do check out NUS Geographers’ Facebook Page for the latest upcoming events and outings or simply, interact with your fellow NUS Geographers. We are contactable at or if you wish to know more, check out the notice board located right outside the department at AS2 #03-01. Alternatively, just approach any Geog Soc friends you know and we are more than happy to share with you! If you wish wish to check out more about our profs, staff, or other academic programs, do check out 57

A Publication by:

Cover designed by Grace Ann Chua

Geosphere 2013  

This is an annual publication by the Geographical Society of NUS

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