The common Curriculum at Yale-NUS College provides students with a remarkable liberal arts foundation that promotes inquiry through a variety of fields from multiple perspectives. This common learning experience offers a unique opportunity to explore issues that lie at the intersection of the Social Sciences, Humanities and Natural Sciences and to transcend disciplinary boundaries. During Week 7 LABs, students, faculty and staff engage in learning projects of up to a week that explore themes of the common curriculum in a broader context, in an interdisciplinary way and in a different setting than the traditional classroom. The week culminates in a symposium, where students and faculty share the insights and knowledge they’ve gleaned with each other and members of the Yale-NUS community.
Week 7 LABs are a faculty-generated initiative, piloted in collaboration with the Centre for International and Professional Experience, that seeks to encourage collaboration across disciplines, make the walls of our classrooms as permeable as possible, highlight themes of the Common Curriculum and their application in the world and introduce students to our faculty’s scholarship in a less formal setting. Week 7 takes place half-way through the first term of the first year, replacing midterm week. Founded in the inaugural year, the College has fielded dozens of Week 7 LAB projects many of which were Singapore-based while others have incorporated an international component. In 2016, our 210 freshmen will participate in 13 Week 7 LAB projects.
The Week 7 pilot has become one of the College’s flagship offerings, highlighting aspects of Yale-NUS’ distinctive education such as interdisciplinarity, innovative pedagogy, experience-based learning, and unparalleled access to professors that complement the rigorous classroom learning of the curriculum. In an end of the year survey, students identified Week 7 LABs as one of the highlights of their educational experience, while prospective students said it was a leading reason they chose to attend Yale-NUS, and several faculty cited it as a meaningful factor in their decision to teach at Yale-NUS. While gauging the impact of this kind of experiential programming is a longitudinal exercise that we are undertaking, we have already seen a meaningful ripple effect of Week 7 LABs, including: interdisciplinary connections being made in the classroom, significant influence on students’ curricular choices, and direct impact on student summer research projects that were seeded by Week 7 LAB experiences. Likewise, Week 7 has garnered notice beyond our campus. Colleagues at peer institutions have expressed tremendous interest in the co-curricular model of Week 7 LABs, Week 7 has been presented at several conferences on innovation in higher education, local media outlets in Singapore carried reports of the pilot programme, and our Admissions team reports that Week 7 is followed closely on the campus of several leading high schools in Singapore.
 For example, Week 7 projects in both the arts and urban studies were drivers of higher-than-expected subscription rates in electives in those fields.