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Speech by Prof Tan Tai Yong at the AEE Asia-Pacific Regional Conference

Greetings and Salutations

Good morning,

  • Mr David Chua, Chief Executive Officer, National Youth Council
  • Professor Roger Slee, Diamond Jubilee Chair in Disability & Inclusion, University of Leeds
  • Ms Sherry Bagley, Executive Director, Association of Experiential Education (AEE ED)
  • Mr Liao Ping Huang, Chairperson, Association of Experiential Education Asia Pacific Regional Council (AEE APRC)
  • Esteemed members of the Association of Experiential Education Asia Pacific Regional Council (AEE APRC)
  • Distinguished guests

1. Welcome to SUSS for the inaugural Association of Experiential Education Asia-Pacific Regional Conference.

2. The education landscape is rapidly evolving. There is indeed a strong push for a digitalisation of education, especially through online learning.

3. While this may be the case, many of us understand the importance of experiential education in delivering a holistic and impactful learning experience, not only for our students but also for all members of society.

4. Experiential education, in alignment with SUSS's ethos of Head, Heart, and Habit, goes beyond imparting knowledge and skills. It forges strong connections to the learner's heart and habit, nurturing their passion, empathy, and the capacity for lifelong learning.

5. Climate change, environmental sustainability, and inclusivity are the pressing challenges of our time. They represent the urgent need for action and change. Experiential education can empower our students to become active agents for positive change, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to create a sustainable and inclusive future.

Driving Factors for the Conference

6. This inaugural APAC Regional Conference with the theme of ‘Sustainability and Inclusivity in Education’ aims to:

  • Recognise the good practices of educators, practitioners, and students in experiential education.
  • Explore ideas and enactment of sustainability and inclusivity in experiential education.
  • Celebrate partnerships and expand reach through networking and collaboration.
  • Celebrate the leadership of APAC council in AEE.

7. This conference is therefore a space for us to share ideas, establish strong relationships and explore innovative approaches to propel the field forward in Singapore and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

8. I thank the Association of Experiential Education Asia Pacific for being the driving force to start conversations and kicking off this initiative to bring us all here together today.

9. We live in a world that has been characterized as "The Perfect Long Storm."

  • There is an increasing risk of escalating geopolitical conflicts, stagflation, the deterioration of our existential commons, and growing divergences within and across countries.
  • And then, there is the rapid advancement of technology, particularly generative AI, which has transformed the educational landscape and requires innovative pedagogical approaches that go beyond traditional classroom instruction.

10. When combined with the challenges of engaging students in a rapidly evolving educational landscape, these factors have made it paramount for educators to provide relevant and meaningful learning experiences. These experiences will be crucial to prepare students for an interconnected yet vastly diverse world.

11. Ideally, everyone should have equal access to education. However, as our keynote speaker Professor Roger Slee will illuminate in his speech, the history of education is rife with exclusionary practices. Reconstructing our education system to embrace inclusivity is a formidable challenge, let alone sustaining it. Nonetheless, through events and conferences such as this, we can strive toward an inclusive education system that accommodates individuals from all strata of society.

12. Aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 4, we share the common objective of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for individuals from all walks of life. Experiential education emerges as a powerful tool in achieving this goal.

SUSS’ Role and Contributions

13. SUSS has always been a strong advocate of experiential education and we take great pride as the host of this conference. I am encouraged by the active participation of all 162 participants from 15 different countries joining us today, reflecting the global interest and commitment to advancing sustainability and inclusivity in education.

14. Over the next few days, I am excited for you to discover our diverse programme of 38 presentations by academia, practitioners, and students, showcasing the rich tapestry of experiential education practices in Singapore and the region.

15. I would like to express my gratitude to our partners the National Youth Council, Outward Bound Singapore, and Republic Polytechnic, who will share the various experiential education programmes and practices that are unique and relevant to Singapore. 16. Allow me to provide a glimpse into some of the exciting programmes at SUSS that you will have the privilege to delve into during this conference:

  • Our programme includes a visit to our Urban Bee Farm, located right here at SUSS. We are proud to be the first bee-friendly university in Singapore. This is part of the Agri-preneurship programme in SUSS that supports the nation’s vision of 30-by-30 food sustainability goal.
  • Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to attend selected student presentations showcasing community service-learning initiatives at SUSS. One such initiative is the "WILDsmarines" program, where our students engage in nature guiding activities and work with diverse communities, promoting biodiversity conservation, and fostering a sense of social responsibility.
  • Moreover, I am excited to share with you an immersive outdoor education program that took place in Ha Long Bay and Hanoi City last December.

16 SUSS students had the opportunity to interact with the locals, gain insights into sustainability efforts in Vietnam, and collaborate with local businesses on initiatives promoting inclusivity. These experiences not only broaden students' perspectives but also equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to effect positive change in diverse cultural contexts.

Championing Sustainability and Inclusivity in Experiential Education

17. Looking ahead, SUSS remains committed to championing experiential education and advancing sustainability and inclusivity in education.

  • I am proud to announce the establishment of the College of Interdisciplinary and Experiential Learning, offering a broad-based core curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary approaches, experiential learning, and co-creation of knowledge with the community. This initiative will further empower our students to actively contribute to the efforts of sustainability and inclusivity, both locally and globally.
  • Additionally, our Student SUcceSS Centre has designed programs to provide a holistic and inclusive learning experience for all SUSS students. We believe that education should not be limited to the confines of the classroom but should extend into the community.
  • To this end, we offer a variety of courses in collaboration with industry partners that cater not just to students but to everyone from all walks of life, allowing them to develop the soft skills and knowledge needed to make a positive impact to the community in the long run.


18. Our work does not end here. It is through ongoing collaboration, dialogue, and collective action that we can drive sustainable and inclusive education practices going forward. I invite all of you to join us on this journey as we continue to spearhead meaningful conversations and forge partnerships that will shape the future of experiential education.

19. Thank you once again for your presence and contributions to this significant event. I wish you all fruitful discussions, meaningful connections, and transformative insights throughout the duration of this conference. Thank you.

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