Over the past few decades, many Asian countries have taken centre stage in spearheading global development, against a backdrop of pervasive geoeconomic, sociocultural and political changes. In this period of rapid transformation and disruptive changes impacting the way we eat, play, consume, work and learn, entire generations may be struggling with adapting to the constant flux circumstances have left them in, instead of realising the benefits that the changes promise.
In June 2017, as part of the 3rd Asian Undergraduate Summit (AUS), some 200 local and overseas participants congregated in Singapore to discuss and examine responses to these disruptive changes and their impact on society. The Summit, which was supported by Temasek Foundation Connects and hosted by the National University of Singapore’s University Scholars Programme (USP), provided the students with the opportunity to engage in meaningful academic, cultural and social exchanges. Its Asian-centric focus helped participants form robust partnerships and encouraged them to think of solutions and actions to tackle issues faced by their countries, the region and even the world.
Through panel discussions with experts from both the public and private sectors, participants engaged more critically with issues through insights on emerging social phenomena. Staying true to its aim of empowering leaders of tomorrow, AUS 2017 also provided participants with the Design Thinking toolkit to work out future challenges. Participants learnt better ways to design solutions for their targeted problems. Some of the solutions participants came up with at AUS 2017 included a parking mobile app to allow users to book a carpark space in advance, and a robot to meet the daily needs of senior citizens.
Minister Ong Ye Kung attended the AUS 2017 Closing Ceremony. To inspire participants and their millennial peers to continue working towards making Asia a vibrant region amidst present and future disruptions, he said, “Our fate is in our own hands. Circumstances may change but it depends on us to transform and re-position our cities.”
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About the Asian Undergraduate Summit
First held in 2015, the Asian Undergraduate Summit (AUS) is a student-run and student-led conference which seeks to groom young leaders from Singapore and across Asia to navigate the complexities of tomorrow by engaging in meaningful regional collaboration and exchange. A flagship event of the National University of Singapore’s University Scholars Programme, AUS provides an in-depth exploration of thematic concerns surrounding ‘Leadership in a Complex World’, using the Design Thinking methodology.
About Temasek Foundation Connects
Temasek Foundation Connects is one of the six non-profit philanthropic organisations set up by Temasek and sponsored through Temasek Trust.
Temasek Foundation Connects funds and supports programmes that seek to build bridges and partnerships, and to promote dialogue and mutual understanding across international communities and markets. These programmes advance collective knowledge and mutual understanding in key areas that are important to Singapore and on a global front. These include various issues such as security, geopolitics and economic imperatives of emerging markets, as well as best practices in areas such as corporate governance and stewardship.
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The Design Thinking methodology, adopted by many businesses and at AUS to impart critical skills for participants to take on future leadership roles, has also been used by governments. It focuses on both the identification of problems and the implementation of solutions. Participants start from empathy with stakeholders and learn more about the specific problems they face through interviews and survey groundwork. Thereafter, the ideation, creation and testing of a prototype solution guide participants to come up with end solutions that are highly user-centric and specifically catered to the needs of their intended target audience.