Yale-NUS students learn diverse languages through teleconference

In an increasingly globalised world, the mastery of different languages is becoming essential to students who hope to embark on careers that span countries and continents.

At Yale-NUS College, students are offered the opportunity to learn diverse languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Sanskrit via the Yale Center for Language Study.

According to Senior Lecturer of Spanish and Associate Director of Language Studies Eduardo Lage-Otero, students have indicated significant interest in these languages. To enable the students to pursue these opportunities, the College worked with Yale to develop language programmes conducted via teleconference. These new classes augment the current range of language programmes that are already being offered at the College, in partnership with the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Centre for Language Studies.


Vietnam and China: Balancing Geography and History

Neighbors China and Vietnam share a long, complicated history. China is the dominant partner and most recently pressured Vietnam to cancel an oil-drilling contract in the South China Sea with the Spanish oil firm Repsol. Soon afterward, Vietnam’s defense minister met with his counterpart in Washington and announced approval of a visit by a US aircraft carrier to a Vietnamese port. Capitulating to China on big issues close to home and connecting to the United States in economic and symbolic ways follow an old pattern. “Hanoi looks to Washington for assistance only when China threatens, but in its heart, the country values Beijing’s comradeship more,” explains Tuong Vu, author, professor of political science and director of Asian Studies at the University of Oregon. Vietnamese leaders were disappointed in the 1970s as China welcomed the United States and elements of capitalism. The Soviet Union’s end pushed Vietnam to normalize relations with the United State in 1995. By 2005, China was aggressive in enforcing claims over most of the South China Sea, “dashing Vietnamese leaders’ cherished hope that the comradely spirit between the two parties would soar above narrow national interests,” Vu explains. Despite many disappointments, ideology remains a priority in Vietnam’s foreign-policy calculations. – YaleGlobal

Students Abroad: Abigail Smith in My Loi, Vietnam

Thanks to funding from the Coca Cola World Fund at Yale, Abigail Smith, a Class of 2018 Master of Environmental Management Candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, traveled to Vietnam to work with the World Agroforestry Centre on agriculture and climate-change mitigation.

My work this summer is focused on a Climate-Smart Agriculture project led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Vietnam. As the planet warms and global population continues to grow and demand for food increases, it is increasingly urgent to devise solutions which achieve sustainable nutritional and ecological security. On the farm level, these overlapping goals necessitate agricultural ecosystems with high levels of biological productivity to maximize ecological interactions and niches, as well as resource use efficiency to minimize artificial or external inputs into the agricultural system.


Can Vietnam Become a Global Tech Hub?

Vietnam is hoping its nascent tech ecosystem can compete on a global stage, and it has started to gain the attention of international investment. Eddie Thai ’12 discusses the challenges and opportunities along the long road to reach the country’s potential.


ASEAN Summit’s China Tilt Portends a New World Order

The South China Sea quandary continues. In summer of 2016, the international Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague issued a ruling in a case brought by the Philippines, rejecting China’s claims to most of the sea along with construction of artificial islands. The Philippines, under Rodrigo Duterte, refused to embrace the ruling – instead moving closer to China in the hope of trade deals. So it’s no surprise that other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, during a 50 anniversary meeting in Manila, backed away from a statement criticizing China for failing to respect members’ claims under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, explains author June Teufel Dreyer, professor of political science with the University of Miami. In turn, the United States has halted freedom-of-navigation exercises in the South China Sea. “Capitulation to China’s wishes does not necessarily translate into friendship,” Dreyer warns. The United States, ASEAN and other nations must clarify foreign policy to stand up for international norms. Or, the world must adjust to a new regional order, with China firmly in charge of the South China Sea.

Program Empowering Leaders in Tropics Receives $4.9 Million Grant from Arcadia

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The Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative (ELTI), a Yale-based program that makes the latest tools and research in forest restoration and sustainable management accessible to the people who manage tropical landscapes, has received a $4.9 million grant from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, to continue its work.

Through field-based training, leadership support, innovative online instruction, and open access information, ELTI since 2006 has reached more than 5,000 individuals — including landholders and farmers, practitioners and policymakers — across tropical Latin America and Southeast Asia.

ELTI provides targeted and open access resources that have helped individuals and groups develop local capacity to conserve and restore forest and tree cover that, in turn, supports biodiversity and livelihoods in regions that have endured deforestation and land degradation.


Resurgent Russia Joins Great Game in South Asia

With joint military exercises, weapons sales and multilateral conferences, Russia is reclaiming a role as a key powerhouse in Central and South Asia that it held during the Cold War. With a more isolationist administration in Washington, Moscow is also joining with China to fill a power vacuum in South Asia. “In recent years India has grown concerned about Russia’s growing closeness to China and especially the overtures to Pakistan,” notes Harsh V Pant. “Any new power equation in the region will have long-term implications.” The new strategic relationships provoke the ire of India – a strong ally for Russia during the Cold War that has since improved relations with the United States. Indeed, India is troubled by Russia’s recent decisions to appease extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan – initially hosting a conference on Afghanistan’s future with only Pakistan and China while excluding Afghan and US representatives. Additional countries were invited to subsequent meetings, but Russia has established itself as a leading powerbroker for Afghanistan’s future. Russia has a dual goal of constraining US influence while expanding its own, and Pant predicts that “regional theaters like South Asia are likely to face the brunt of this geopolitical competition.” – YaleGlobal