a 'Singapore studies' module at Tembusu College

In present-day Singapore, “biomedicine” manifests itself in multiple ways. It manifests itself in patients’ and their families’ experiences of diagnosis, treatment and care in relation to a variety of ailments and conditions.

It also manifests itself in the form of knowledge and skills on the part of the doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals delivering healthcare, and the expertise, technologies and policies that support that delivery.

Advances in biomedicine also feature centrally in Singapore’s performance as a biomedical hub: a place where biomedical research and medical tourism contribute to the country’s economy.

The seminar “Biomedicine and Singapore Society” focuses on what biomedicine is and does in and for Singapore and its inhabitants. The course addresses the technical and scientific content of biomedicine in relation to the social, cultural, political, philosophical and economic concerns and practices with which this content is closely interlinked.

Students and fellows will together explore some of these linkages by focusing on where they become most visible: in the context of specific debates, discussions or issues that are either especially timely or especially characteristic for Singapore – and sometimes both.

  • What are the different elements we need to consider in arguing whether or not the Government’s response to SARS or H1N1 was “effective”?
  • Why have the merits of mammography (again) been so hotly debated in the past year?
  • How are home- and institutionally-based care arrangements for elderly persons evolving and what does this say about Singapore society?
  • Why is “race” routinely included as a variable when it comes to reporting health (risk) statistics?
  • How is life in Singapore organized – in terms of, for example, education, the presence of foreigners, consultations on bioethics, and concessions to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies – to support a thriving biomedical research sector?

The seminar is organized around these kind of topics, while the precise nature and emphasis of the questions to be asked is up to students and fellows. To put things in perspective, discussion will not just focus on Singapore but also involve other places (and times) in which people grapple with similar issues.

Download the course syllabus.