East Meets West in Class

Updated February 25, 2013, 5:02 p.m. ET

East Meets West in Class

Pericles Lewis is founding president and professor of humanities at Yale-NUS College, a joint venture between Yale University and National University of Singapore, to open in August.


ON INNOVATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION: Universities are often places where a lot of innovation takes place on the part of the faculty and in the research labs and so on. But they’re basically very conservative institutions. They don’t change much. Here in Asia we’re building up new colleges and universities to experiment in new ways, to break the mold, to think innovatively about both what’s the best that liberal-arts education has to offer but also how do you modernize through experiential learning, better quantitative skills in the students and getting students to stretch themselves. Unfortunately, to some extent in American universities, it’s quite possible to get by by skipping the hard courses.

ON WHY ASIAN UNIVERSITIES ARE LOOKING WEST: Asian universities have been very successful at technical education that does use a lot of rote learning, that can be delivered to large groups by a single professor. The graduates have great technical skills but are not necessarily open to innovation in a way that they could be. I think a liberal-arts approach adds something to the overall set of skills. You do hear from CEOs that they get graduates from top Asian universities who have a lot of technical skills but who don’t have some of the leadership qualities that they’re looking for.

ON YALE-NUS COLLEGE: National University of Singapore has been extremely innovative and has grown very big. And so the opportunity to have small classrooms with close attention to the student is something they’ve struggled with a little bit. Yale-NUS College is an opportunity to provide that kind of really intense experience that you get in the small seminar room: 15 students talking with a professor, learning, actively inquiring. That is very valued here in Asia. We see it in lots of other countries, trying to develop this active learning approach.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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