Carolina took its global education ambitions to a new level in 2007, when the College of Arts and Sciences established an unusual joint degree program with the National University of Singapore (NUS), considered among the best universities in the world.
Undergraduates from UNC and NUS can study abroad at the partner institution for two-to-four semesters and receive a degree from both universities when they graduate. The program is open to students majoring in economics, English literature, geography, history and political science, and will be expanded to biology majors this fall.
A joint UNC-NUS degree is an enviable credential for students who wish to work in the global arena.
David Crawford, the first Carolina student to enroll in the program, graduated from UNC and NUS in 2011 with a joint degree in geography. He applied to the program during his first year at Carolina, and spent his entire sophomore year (2008-09) in Singapore. He says it was “transformational.”
Crawford’s experience at NUS — supported by a UNC Phillips Ambassadors scholarship — launched him on an intense global adventure. His NUS studies and experiences helped him gain a UNC Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), as well as internships in Singapore, Bangladesh and Hungary, and a graduate degree in international development from Britain’s University of Manchester. Since beginning his studies in Singapore, he has traveled to 40 countries.
Now he works in Washington, D.C., for Accenture, one of the largest international consulting firms in the world. He uses communications technology to address global supply-chain issues.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said, if not for the UNC-NUS experience.
Originally from Huntersville, N.C., Crawford took geography courses at NUS in tourism, migration and international development (all taught in English). He also studied Chinese.
Through a class taught by Brenda Yeoh, professor of geography and dean of the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Crawford became interested in the foreign workforce behind Singapore’s robust economy.
He obtained an internship in Singapore’s “Little India” community, where he worked during the school year with TWC2 (Transient Workers Count Too) a nonprofit addressing migrant rights. His SURF fellowship supported a summer internship on migrant issues in Bangladesh. That resulted in a publication with UNC Geography Professor Nina Martin. They presented their findings at a conference at NUS.
“The whole year helped me develop in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Crawford.