Inaugural Yale-NUS Summer Institute focused on grand strategy, leadership

Yale-NUS students pose in the lobby of the Yale Center for British Art.
Yale-NUS students pose in the lobby of the Yale Center for British Art.

The inaugural Yale-NUS Summer Institute in Global Strategy and Leadership brought 39 Yale-NUS students to Yale in June for a five-week program designed to provide students with an in-depth and rigorous introduction to history, politics, social change, and a number of large-scale global challenges facing tomorrow’s leaders.

Adapted from Yale’s Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, the Summer Institute focused on the theory and practice of grand strategy from varying analytic perspectives. The curriculum also provided opportunities for students to apply these concepts to current global issues related to the environment, public health, and the movement of the world’s population. The program also sought to foster leadership development through exercises in group dynamics, persuasive writing, and an international crisis simulation.

Through partnership with the Grand Strategy program, we were pleased to provide a unique leadership opportunity for Yale-NUS students to develop a theoretical framework through which to assess and tackle global challenges facing us today,” said Pericles Lewis, Yale vice president for global strategy and deputy provost for international affairs.

Primary goals for student learning during the Summer Institute included: understanding the theory and practice of grand strategy, in both historical and contemporary contexts; developing the capacity to design and present effective grand strategy to address pressing global problems; acquiring basic knowledge and developing proficiency in the areas of global health, environmental studies, and race and migration; and improving skills in presenting ideas and crafting arguments, both in writing and orally.

Nicholas Alipui speaks to students about developments in international health, especially regarding children and women.
MacMillan fellow and former Director of Programmes at UNICEF Nicholas Alipui speaks to students about developments in international health, especially regarding children and women.

The Summer Institute selected students from all Yale-NUS majors, with priority being given to first- and second-year students. Lectures were conducted by more than 20 Yale faculty from graduate/professional schools and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, along with two faculty colleagues from Yale-NUS College. Topics ranged from “Grand Strategy in the Cold War” to “Global Environmental Governance” to “Biotechnology in the Developing World” and “U.S. Border Technology and Migration Policy.” Students also participated in a number of dynamic skills workshops such as “Game Theory” with Yale Provost Ben Polak and “Enhancing Observations” with docents at the Yale Center for British Art. Additionally, the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning provided an intensive weekly writing seminar to advance both academic and public writing skills. 

 “This program undertook the ambitious task of prompting us to put into practice the theory we learn in the classroom. The notion of balance in discussion was upheld not as a mere theoretical ideal, but as a concrete actuality,” said Yale-NUS College student Aidan Sim (Class of 2020). “By considering the perspectives of individuals we may disagree with, we were forced to explore the intersection between normative ethics and political strategy, and arrive at our own conclusions. In this respect, the program was a tremendous success.”

In addition to their academic lessons, students also experienced what it is like to live on the Yale University campus and be a part of the local New Haven community. Participants lived in residential colleges, ate in the dining halls, attended formal dinners with guest speakers, and joined in various events where they had opportunities to build connections with numerous faculty from various Yale schools.

What makes this initiative especially valuable to student participants is its emphasis on multidisciplinary problem-solving as we cultivate and educate future leaders from around the world,” added Lewis.

Students hone their eyes for detail in the Enhancing Observations workshop at the Center for British Art.
Students hone their eyes for detail in the “Enhancing Observations” workshop at the Yale Center for British Art.

The curriculum concluded with a half-day crisis simulation held at the Yale School of Management during which students represented the government of Singapore, various non-state actors, and members of the international media. Yale’s Professor Charles Hill provided the students with an opportunity to experience “real-time,” albeit fictitious, political, diplomatic, and financial situations. 

The crisis simulation provided a great opportunity for the students to put the ideas they had studied to practical use. In the high-pressure environment of the simulation, they had to rely on the intellectual architecture they had built over the previous five weeks — ideas drawn from strategists ranging from Thucydides to Alinsky,” said Ian Johnson, associate director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale.

This is a program for anyone who seeks to challenge their assumptions about our political and social realities, become a more strategic leader, and by no exaggeration, arm themselves with a framework not just to think about today's most relevant problems but to actually mitigate them,” said student participant, Aidan Sim.

Visit Yale-NUS CIPE for more information on the 2019 Summer Institute.  Yale faculty members interested in learning more about teaching opportunities at Yale-NUS College may contact Kel Ginsberg or Angela Kuhne.

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Media Contact

Adam Gaber: adam.gaber@yale.edu, 203-436-5449