Situated within a megadiverse biodiversity-hotspot, Singapore has drastically-reduced natural areas but remains surprisingly species-rich. However, many of us lack exposure to nature in a highly-urban Singapore – leading to the commonly-asked colloquial question – “Singapore got biodiversity meh?”. This module offers a holistic study of Singapore’s natural history (i.e., biodiversity, as well as the philosophies and methods in the study of biodiversity itself), allowing students to appreciate how the combination of rich natural heritage, colonial history, infrastructural capabilities and cultural biases has created unique opportunities and challenges for biodiversity studies in Singapore.
In the course of the module, we will study how Singapore’s biodiversity landscape, as well as the motivations and methods for studying biodiversity, have evolved across Singapore’s history. In retracing how prominent naturalists explored Singapore’s biodiversity in the past, we imagine how they would do it today using current techniques. In becoming naturalists, students will apply knowledge from multiple disciplines, and also practise naturalist skills that can be intuitively picked up by non-biologists. As such, this module has a strong science-based field and lab component. Finally, this module features a component that emphasizes science communication and public engagement, a skill-set that has often been lacking in science pedagogy.