M.A. Graduate – Class of 2016

Wei Qing Tan ProfileI grew up in Singapore, and left in 2012 for Oxford, where I’ve just finished my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. I’ve always been interested in effecting meaningful and lasting change; in the last three years I’ve helped set up OxPolicy, Oxford’s student think tank, volunteered with a great charity called Education Partnerships Africa in Kenya, and interned with two government ministries in Singapore. Travelling is another of my passions. I’ve visited 18 cities in the past 3 years, and am typing this from Seoul, where I’ve joined a summer program. It’s difficult to get under the skin of a new locale as a tourist, so my fondest memories are of places in which I spent a significant amount of time (10 weeks in Kenya, this month is Seoul) or where I had friends to show me around (Beirut, Cyprus). Whilst at Columbia, I intend to see as much of the US as possible, and hopefully make it over to South America too!  I’ve tried some rock climbing, kayaking, jazz dance, lindyhop, yoga, pottery and watercolor; I love to eat and am always game for trying exotic foods; I feel most at home in big cities but most alive when I’m lost in the great outdoors.

Research Interests

I am interested in the socio-cultural, political and spatial impacts of large-scale immigration on global cities. My preliminary research agenda focuses on identifying and conceptualizing the salient dimensions of social and cultural conflict arising from immigration in global cities. Transnational migration leads to the convergence of immigrants from extreme ends of the socioeconomic spectrum in the same space, generating immense potential for conflict, which I seek to delineate and examine. I intend to use insights from urban and planning theory, economics, sociology and psychology, and will attempt to compare Singapore’s experience with those of other global cities.

I will return to Singapore to work in the civil service for 6 years after this M.A. degree. Singapore’s famous reputation as a policymaker’s dream laboratory is not undeserved; her civil service runs a tight ship and has so far been one of the most innovative and efficient in the world. After my 6-year bond expires, I will decide whether to remain in Singapore, or if I can best address the most pressing issues of our time elsewhere.

MA Thesis

“Re-Imagining the Global City: Discursive Strategies of Resistance by Migrants in Singapore”


  • B.A., Philosophy, Politics & Economics, University of Oxford, Oct. 2012-June 2015