Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the United States. It is known worldwide for its prestigious reputation, having produced 48 Nobel laureates and 32 heads of state. It also has a strong global presence, with campuses in the US, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Harvard has a long history of recognizing excellence through its prize awards. It is one of the most prestigious academic competitions in the world, with its prizes awarded to scholars, scientists and artists. The awards are designed to promote and celebrate the best work in their respective fields, rewarding people who have made a significant contribution to society. The prize awards are also intended to recognise the importance of altruism, where people put the common good before their own interests.
The first Singapore prize was awarded in 2014, set up to mark the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence. It is aimed at encouraging engagement with Singapore’s history and promoting a deeper understanding of its unique identity. It is now a triennial award, with the next prize due to be awarded in 2020 or 2021.
This year, the prize will award a total of $20,000 to six winners in each category, with the top winner receiving an additional $50,000 for a project that can make a “transformative impact on our collective futures”. The winning projects could include “new scientific discoveries or inventions that address urgent global challenges, or social and environmental challenges,” Kensington Palace said.
The top winners of the English literature category are all first-time winners, including alllkunila (Azhagunila), innnpaa (Inbha), Jee Leong Koh and rma cureess (Rama Suresh). Nonagenarian Wang Gungwu is the sole winner for poetry this year, for his collection of translations from the Japanese poet Yu Fan.
Among the other finalists is a project by WOHA to build housing units for elderly residents in Singapore, called Kampung Admiralty. The design includes two 11-story high blocks of 104 apartments, and publicly-accessible areas including gardens, terraces and hawker centers. The judges praised the project as a “fantastic example of rethinking how we live together, as a community” and for its attempts to support inter-generational bonding.
In an interview, Prof Miksic said he hoped the prize would help to inspire young people in Singapore and beyond to explore their heritage. He also hopes to continue work on his book, which will include a catalogue of the ancient artefacts found in Singapore.
The judging panel also included Kishore Mahbubani, senior advisor at the NUS Office of the Vice President (University & Global Relations). He was part of the four-member panel that chose this year’s winner. He told reporters that there were plans to expand the scope of the prize by allowing fiction and other mediums to be considered in the future, saying that history can be conveyed in ways other than through non-fiction. He cited the movie 12 Years a Slave as an example. This article was written by Xinyi Liu and edited by Mark Beasley.