SUSS receives USD850,000 grant for research and education on urban life in Southeast Asia

Singapore, July 2, 2021 – Singapore University of Sciences (SUSS) has received a grant of USD$850,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation’s initiative on Southeast Asia (LuceSEA) for a collaborative project on urban life in cities in this region.

The grant is the largest LuceSEA has handed out for a project by an institution in Southeast Asia.

The project to be led by SUSS’s Centre for University Core (CUC) — Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network 2.0: Communities of Learning, Research and Teaching Collaborative (SEANNET Collective) — is a 5-year multi-disciplinary research, education and capacity building programme. It builds on and expands SEANNET’s initial phase (2017-2020) that began with six sites in the region.

SEANNET Collective is envisioned to be:

  1. A platform for conceptualisations of cities and urban life through community-engaged research;
  2. A programme to develop capacities of academics and institutions of higher learning in collaborative research and pedagogical approaches;
  3. A dynamic and committed international community on research and teaching to build a multidisciplinary understanding of Southeast Asia’s societies.

In the next five years, SEANNET Collective will expand to cover sites in Singapore and 10 other cities — Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei Darussalam; Surabaya and Jayapura in Indonesia; Seremban in Malaysia; Manila in the Philippines; Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand; Dili in Timor-Leste; Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam; and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. SEANNET Collective envisions each team to develop collaborative research and pedagogical approaches through their study sites.

In Singapore, the study will focus on the technologisation of Singapore – how “technique” has created gaps between centralised notions of city-life and the everyday lived experiences of city-living by examining Punggol Smart Town and Bukit Merah as comparative case studies.

The entire project will be conducted in partnership with 21 institutions from Southeast Asia, United States and Europe. It will be coordinated by SUSS Assoc Prof Rita Padawangi, with co-coordinators Assoc Prof Jennifer Ang (SUSS), and Dr Paul Rabé (International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden).

Prof Tsui Kai Chong, Provost of SUSS said: “I congratulate our colleagues for winning this research grant. The research aligns with one of SUSS’s strategic trusts — lead education and applied research for social good.”

“We are honoured to be coordinators of this purposeful initiative, which will empower young researchers and communities for innovative approaches in studying and teaching urban life from Southeast Asia. We are also hopeful that the study and the methods will aid policy makers in future urban planning,” said Assoc Prof Padawangi.

For each city, SEANNET Collective will look at two issues:

1) The relationship between daily practices in the neighbourhood – including communities’ autonomy in making spaces – and the building of a “good city”.

2) The ways in which bottom-up place-making in neighbourhoods — the process of creating quality places for people to live, work and play — affect the city at large.

At each research site, the researchers will investigate how neighbourhoods address

the various challenges that cities often face, such as environmental problems, public health, commodification of space, migration, arts, heritage, and technologisation of cities.

With the Covid-19 pandemic having expanded further the use of online spaces in our daily lives and educational activities, each team is expected to blend online and offline approaches to enhance collaboration between researchers, students, and communities across borders.

SEANNET Collective will feature a series of workshops to exchange research findings and teaching approaches in each site, researchers’ mobility programmes and fellowships, and the establishment of the Southeast Asia Community and City Online Library.

Assoc Prof Jennifer Ang, who is the Director of CUC said “As the Centre that delivers core cross-disciplinary courses in humanities and social sciences in SUSS, we are excited to embark on this multi-disciplinary project which will benefit cities in Southeast Asia, and allow for more systematic interaction between university members and the community.”

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Singapore University of Social Sciences

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Singapore University of Social Sciences

About the Singapore University of Social Sciences

Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is a university with a rich heritage in inspiring lifelong education, and transforming society through social sciences. We develop work-ready graduates and work-adaptive alumni to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness to meet the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning. 

We offer over 80 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes, which are flexible, modular and inter-disciplinary, catering to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. SUSS also offers a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills upgrading of Singapore’s workforce. 

Our programmes and courses are made available through our five schools:

  • S R Nathan School of Human Development
  • School of Business
  • School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
  • School of Law
  • School of Science and Technology

To date, over 38,000 graduates have experienced our unique brand of education, and each year, about 15,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.

The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), as part of SUSS, leads in the field of research on adult learning to build capabilities of the training and adult education sector in Singapore and beyond.  

For more information on SUSS, please visit 

About the Centre for University Core (CUC)

The Centre for University Core (CUC) is committed to promote the University’s focus on applied social sciences to inspire lifelong learning and transform society through its SUSS Core courses and scholarship.

The SUSS Core courses provides a common experience in the humanities and applied social sciences to all SUSS undergraduate students to achieve the broader goals of cross-disciplinary knowledge and competencies, and emphasizes the importance and role of human skills in a technologized world. It offers a dedicated cluster of courses focused on emerging and complex local and global issues that teaches students to think critically, reflexively, empathetically, and creatively to provide well-reasoned personal responses. Students also learn to develop competencies in communication and problem-solving, and key skills of managing diversity and collaboration in order to make general connections with everyday contexts locally and globally.

About the Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.

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