Kenneth Paul Tan, PhD (Cambridge)

Professor of Politics, Film, and Cultural Studies

School of Communication and Film

Hong Kong Baptist University

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Education

 

Ph.D., Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK (2000)

 

B.Sc. (First Class), Joint School of Economics and Politics,

University of Bristol, UK (1994)

Academic Appointments and Leadership Roles

 

2021-

Professor (tenured)

Department of Journalism

School of Communication

Hong Kong Baptist University

2021-

Honorary Professor

The University of Hong Kong

2012-2017

Vice Dean for Academic Affairs

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

National University of Singapore

2013-2017

Chair, PhD Programme

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

National University of Singapore

 

2011-2013

Chair, Teaching Academy
National University of Singapore

 

2009-2020

Associate Professor (tenured)

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

National University of Singapore

2009-2010

Acting Director, Strategic Planning

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

National University of Singapore

2007-2010

Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

National University of Singapore

 

2007-2009

Assistant Professor

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

National University of Singapore

 

2003-2005

Assistant Head

Department of Political Science

National University of Singapore

 

2000-2007

Assistant Professor

University Scholars Programme

& Department of Political Science

National University of Singapore

Awards and Fellowships

 

Hiroshi Kitamura Visiting Professor, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany (2018)

 

Visiting Scholar, Chinese University of Hong Kong (2018)

 

Visiting Scholar, Sciences Po, France (2017)

 

Visiting Scholar, Griffith University, Australia (2014)

Visiting Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, US (2011)

 

Visiting Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Australia (2010)

 

American Political Science Association, Recognition of Award-Winning Political Science Faculty (2009)

 

Outstanding Educator Award, National University of Singapore (NUS) (2009)

 

Fulbright Visiting Researcher, Georgetown University, US (2008)

 

NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Teaching Excellence Award (2008)

 

NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Award (2006)

 

NUS Excellent Teacher Award (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences winner) (2005)

 

NUS Excellent Teacher Award (University Scholars Programme winner) (2005)

NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Award (2005)

 

NUS Excellent Teacher Award (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences winner) (2004)

 

NUS Excellent Teacher Award (University Scholars Programme winner) (2004)

 

NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Award (2004)

NUS Excellent Teacher Award (University Scholars Programme winner) (2003)

 

NUS University Scholars Programme Teaching Award (2003)

 

"Prof Kenneth Paul Tan's departure [from the LKY School] will be a great loss to NUS and Singapore. Not only is he one of the most prolific and insightful scholars writing on Singapore politics and culture, he is also a tremendous teacher, having won numerous teaching awards and taught countless numbers of undergraduate and graduate students. I had the privilege of sitting in one of his graduate classes on Singapore policymaking at LKYSPP some years ago. It was a real treat seeing a master of his craft at work. And of course, he's one of the nicest persons I've met, cheering junior academics along whenever he can. I'm now thoroughly jealous of my colleagues in Hong Kong and HKBU."

Professor Elvin Ong, Facebook post, 4 September 2020

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SUMMARY

Kenneth Paul TAN is an academic all-rounder, (1) who has interdisciplinary expertise in Political Science, Public Management, Policy Studies, Sociology, Urban Studies, Cultural Studies, and Film and Media Studies, applied in a multi-dimensional, qualitative, interpretive, and critical analysis of Singapore as a developmental state and a global city;  (2) who has won several prestigious teaching awards recognizing a scholarly and innovative approach to interdisciplinary, socially transformative, and highly interactive teaching and learning, combining the best of liberal arts and professional modes of education; and (3) who, as a seasoned academic leader with deep experience in institution-building, served in the senior leadership team that was able to transform a young public policy school into a world-leading institution within just a few years.

 

Kenneth Paul TAN is a tenured Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), which hired him under its Talent100 initiative in February 2021. He teaches and conducts interdisciplinary research within and across the Academy of Film, the Department of Journalism, and the Department of Government and International Studies. He is a member of HKBU's Smart Society Lab.

Previously, he was a tenured Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School). He was Vice Dean of the LKY School during the most rapid and critical years of its growth and served in its senior leadership team for almost a decade. Prior to that, he taught concurrently at the NUS Political Science Department (where he was Assistant Head) and the University Scholars Programme, the university's pioneering and cutting-edge liberal arts programme.

He has received numerous teaching awards over the years, including NUS's most prestigious Outstanding Educator Award. He was elected Chair of the university's Teaching Academy.

His books include 新加坡模式:城邦國家建構簡史 (季風帶文化,2020), Singapore: Identity, Brand, Power (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Governing Global-City Singapore: Legacies and Futures After Lee Kuan Yew (Routledge, 2017), Cinema and Television in Singapore: Resistance in One Dimension (Brill, 2008), and Renaissance Singapore? Economy, Culture, and Politics (NUS Press, 2007).

He is currently working on three new books: (1) Movies to Save Our World: Imagining Poverty, Inequality, and Revolution in the 21st Century (under contract with Penguin); (2) Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Vice Regulation and Public Morality in Singapore; and (3) Neoliberal Decadence: Global-City Singapore.

He has also published numerous articles in leading international journals, reflecting an innovative and interdisciplinary research agenda that bridges Political Science, Public Management, Policy Studies, Sociology, Urban Studies, Cultural Studies, and Film and Media Studies.

He has held visiting fellowships and honorary professorships at the Australian National University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Georgetown University (on a Fulbright Fellowship), Harvard University, Sciences Po, the University of Duisburg-Essen, and the University of Hong Kong. In 1995, he received the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Postgraduate Scholarship to do a PhD in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge, which he completed in 2000. In 1994, he obtained a First Class Honours degree in the Joint School of Economics and Politics at the University of Bristol on a Public Service Commission Overseas Merit (Open) Scholarship.

He is a member of the National Arts Council (Singapore)’s Arts Advisory Panel and the National Museum of Singapore’s Advisory Board. He chairs the Board of Directors of theatre company The Necessary Stage (Singapore). He was the founding chair of the Asian Film Archive’s Board of Directors.

He is a trained musician and an enthusiastic marathon runner. He is married to Clara Lim-Tan, Director (Arts Education) at the Ministry of Education (Singapore).

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"The master-educator of the LKY School … He’s done a truly remarkable job in his 5 years as Vice Dean. … If you don’t have someone who provides dynamic and outstanding leadership in the core critical areas of the School, the School will not have succeeded as much as it has. So to all who say that the LKY School has done exceptionally well in the last 5 years, I’d say let’s be honest about it. Thank you Kenneth Paul Tan."

Dean Kishore Mahbubani, speech, 2 August 2017

"During my 50+ years of academic work in four continents, I have not encountered a single person in a senior position who has been always scrupulously honest, constructive, objective, full of integrity and supportive. This is in addition to your intellectual prowess."

Distinguished Professor Asit Biswas, letter, 2 July 2017

 

"His peers call him 'a gentleman scholar as well as a bold intellectual' ... He is ... the very model of a new breed of a 'modern university leader' ... In his own way, he is pushing the boundaries to further open the space for public discourse in Singapore for 'better outcomes for all'."

Mint, 28 March 2014

" ... in our polarised and polarising societies ..., our academic institutions face unprecedented challenges. Their traditional roles as centres for independent scholarship and non-partisan dialogue, and as trusted sources of expertise are coming under threat. Increasingly, our post-modern societies question the value of universities’ neutrality and non-partisanship. More so than before, our universities need thoughtful, independent, socially impactful and critical minds to address society’s most vexatious and contentious problems. ... In this respect, I can think of no better scholar than Kenneth to meet this need. ... In these politically charged and fragmented times, our universities need more of these silo-defying, silo-busting scholars."

Professor Donald Low, letter,  23 October 2019

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