Past Week 7 LABs Week 7 LAB 2019

Experiencing Nature: Writing and Creating as a Means of Observing the Natural World


Duration: 24 September to 5 October, 2019

Leading faculty: Assistant Professor Heidi Stalla and Assistant Professor Jennifer Sheridan

In this Week 7 LAB project, students explored natural history in Singapore and Sarawak.

Half of the group’s time was dedicated to science and nature observations: they read pieces from early naturalists such as Alfred Russel Wallace’s Malay Archipelago, identified easily observable species such as birds and frogs, participated in wildlife surveys and took field recordings of the natural environment. The LAB also introduced students to concepts of ecology and evolution, which they will revisit in Scientific Inquiry (SI) of the Common Curriculum. The other half of the group’s time was devoted to reflective writing about their experiences and other creative activities, such as recording soundscapes and group reflections.

One of the goals of this interdisciplinary approach was to allow students who identify as writers, artists, or musicians to experience nature in a way that invited them to learn more, and to show how scientific approaches could open up a literary narrative. These activities built on the critical reading and writing skills which students continually develop during their time at Yale-NUS, while also introducing emerging forms such as the audio essay. For the Week 7 symposium, the group created an interactive exhibition to showcase narrative essays the students worked on throughout the week. These essays spanned visual and aural mediums and engaged in the nature, history, and politics of the region.

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  • From the beaches of Borneo to the luscious forests therein, I had an amazing time documenting the flora and fauna that thrived in the tropical paradise. I enjoyed immensely the moments when we'd sit down and reflect, trying to think of words to capture the bombardment unleashed on the senses from the gentle dew drops falling on the skin, to the melodious tunes of birds singing in the distance.

    Bijaya Chandra Luitel
    Class of 2023

  • If nature was a mystery to be solved, then there are millions of tiny pieces waiting to be discovered. We will never understand the realities of the orangutans, or the frogs, or the barnacles – we are simply projecting our imaginations onto their reality. Nature is a the-more-you-see, the-lesser-you-know kind of affair, just like the endless rabbit hole of knowledge. This journey truly intensified my curiosity in experiencing and imagining the world around me!

    Hei Kiu Au
    Class of 2023

  • During my Week 7, I learned a lot about myself and the world. For a city dweller such as myself, experiencing untouched and pristine nature was very new, surprising, and inspiring. I am not only more aware of how thrilling and fragile nature can be, but also how interesting it is to put these impressions on paper. We learned how to feel the world that surrounds us while paying attention to the smallest detail we hear, see, and feel. It was a truly unforgettable learning experience.

    Nikita Taratorin
    Class of 2023