2023 marked the start of a new experiential learning programme to connect students with real-world challenges so as to foster the building of soft skills and to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of Asia in the world context.
This was crystalised through a joint cooperation with our partner, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Together, we successfully conducted the first LKYSPP-in-Asia pilot programme tailored for students of the LKYSPP Master in Public Administration (MPA). From 3 January 2023, UTS hosted 46 students who visited West Nusa Tenggara and embarked on a six-day professional development programme to enrich their perspectives on the challenges of the sustainability agenda in the province, through engagements with various actors in development, from the government to civil society representatives. In the programme, students were able to discuss critical challenges and ideas as well as sharpen their skills as they gathered real-time understanding of government in action through field observations and meetings with local communities and the provincial government of West Nusa Tenggara.
In addition, to explore and enjoy the wonders of Lombok island, the students engaged, interacted, and experienced the challenges of promoting sustainability through public policy initiatives here. On the first day of the programme, the Governor of West Nusa Tenggara, Dr. Zulkiflimansyah, S.E., M.Sc. welcomed them at the Governor’s Office with an inspiring lecture followed by an opening dinner and performing arts. At this event, Dean of LKYSPP, Prof. Danny Quah, and President of UTS, Mr. Chairul Hudaya, delivered their opening remarks to officially kick-off the programme.
To enrich the immersive and experiential learning, in a country with complex challenges, UTS organised an EXPO under the theme “Public Initiatives in Sustainability”, where 15 community-driven organisations showcased their work on the issue of sustainability at BRIDA, one of the few innovation and research centres of Indonesia. At the EXPO students were able to discuss in detail with leaders and representatives of each initiative and generate a fruitful exchange. Often initially isolated from each other, public initiatives in the region had the opportunity to connect and share in this space and thereby collaborate to advance the sustainability agenda.
On the following days of the LKYSPP-in-Asia programme, the participants explored the marvels of Gili Trawangan, a small vehicle-free island in the North of West Nusa Tenggara. Aside from exploring the beautiful nature, they were able to discover unique local perspectives of the island; such as the environmental impact caused by the growing tourism industry. A series of field observations related to waste management, and outbound activities were organised to support achieving the learning objectives.
This first experiential learning programme enabled the LKYSPP students to gain hands-on experiences and reflections on real-world situations to acquire a deeper understanding of the growing complexities the world faces in achieving sustainability. UTS is honoured to work alongside one of the best universities in the world. Without a doubt, this was a two-fold learning experience for both institutions; for the UTS team and LKYSPP students and team. Working together with our partner in materialising ideas into practices fills us with pride. Step by step UTS is becoming locally relevant and internationally respected. This pilot programme is the result of a fruitful collaboration with LKYSPP and serves as a credential for many international programmes to come.