Urban Ecology: Singapore



This course emphasizes the ecological constraints that arise in areas of high human concentration, including how humans cope with the environment and how the natural environment reacts to human presence and manipulation. Singapore is a unique country in that it is very small and yet has a very dense human population. Although the focus is on ecology, students will also examine Singapore in various other aspects, including history, culture, and religion. Included are day trips into the adjacent countries of Malaysia and Indonesia to highlight similarities and differences.

Why Singapore?

Singapore is a city-state located south of Malaysia and is home to one of the most urbanized and diverse societies in Southeast Asia. With influences from Chinese, English, Arabic, Indian, and Malay cultures, Singapore itself is made up of roughly 63 separate islands. Although linguistic influences in Singapore are diverse, English is widely spoken and Singapore is often recognized for its high-quality English education system. In addition to the atmosphere of culinary adventures, modern landscapes, extensive public transportation, and bustling shopping centers, Singapore is also one of the greenest cities in the world, with the world’s tallest man-made waterfall and nearly half of the island under green cover. 

Learning Outcomes

  • The interchange of history, culture, and landscape in determining ecological outcomes
  • How to explain basic concepts of urban ecology
  • The basic ecology and culture of Singapore
  • Similarities and differences among Singapore and its immediate neighbors
  • The history, culture, and natural history of Singapore

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Featured Experiences

Lee Kong Chian Museum of Natural History
The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) is Singapore’s first and only natural history museum. The museum, which traces its roots to the original Raffles Museum of 1878, is among the oldest such institution in the region. A zone titled “Singapore Today” reveals the geology of the island and the important conservation efforts by national agencies.
Singapore Zoo Night Safari
As dusk falls, get ready as over 1,000 nocturnal animals start their nightly rituals. Come up close to them as they frolic, graze and hunt. With an exciting tram ride that takes you through 7 geographical regions and more, embark on a fascinating journey through the world's very first wildlife night park.
The Maritime Experiential Museum
Come explore the seas. Go explore the world. Relive the glorious conquest of the seas, as you return to the Maritime Silk Route of eras past. Be transported through time in 15 thematic galleries, journey in the tailwinds of renowned seafarers, and even flee pirate invaders aboard a burning ship.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
This national park features beautiful lakes, animals, flowers and plants, including one of the region's first rubber tree orchards. Catch sight of lush vegetation and vibrantly colored flowers, including Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim.
Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park is one of Singapore's most historic landmarks. It has witnessed Singapore's golden age, when Malay Kings ruled from its peak, and watched as the island transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a vibrant trading hub in the 19th century. Many war relics from Singapore's colorful history have survived on the hill and are still visible today.
Punggol Waterway Park
Punggol Waterway Park is Singapore's longest man-made waterway and it runs through the park. It both serves to increase park and water frontage for the housing estates and provide a green respite for residents.
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Johor Bahru is the second-largest city in Malaysia. Visits include the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple, a unique Hindu temple decorated with brilliant glass mosaics.
Batam, Indonesia
Just a speedboat ride from Singapore, Batam island is famous as a place where people come to relax and get away from it all and as such it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia. Batam is well-known for the diving or snorkeling opportunities as the waters are incredibly clear and visibility. Additionally, traditional culture in Batam thrives in fishing villages built on wooden stilts.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This 200-acre reserve, situated north of the island, is home to over 150 species of rare and exotic birds. Its global importance as a stop-over point for migratory birds was recognized by the inclusion of the reserve into the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network. The reserve, with an area of 130 hectares, was listed as an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2003.
Pulau Semakau Landfill
The Semakau Landfill is Singapore's first and only landfill situated offshore among the southern islands and officially opened o the public in 2005 for selected recreational activities. The huge open ash-filled landfill is tucked away in the pristine waters of southern Singapore, coexisting with a mix of mangrove, grassland and shoreline habitats.
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