By Liana Tang

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, safe management restrictions, such as social distancing, created surreal learning and social environments for everyone. As many businesses tightened their financials, cut back on staff, or folded altogether, many found jobs hard to come by. COVID-19 has created a new class of vulnerable , spanning life stages, geography, and socioeconomic status.

One group that feels unique impact is young people, especially those experiencing socially distanced learning environments, and going through the transition from formal education into employment. …

By Tse Hao Guang

Whenever humans work in groups, we display collective intelligence (CI) to varying degrees. In this sense, CI has always been with us. Families, companies, countries and the economy are examples of humans working together in CI systems, utilising various tools at our disposal to address problems and accomplish feats that no single person could have alone. In recent years, the coupling of humans and digital networks has created collectives that can coordinate themselves better than ever, with real-world effects. The political mobilisation of millions on social media during the Arab Spring is just one example.


By Maverick Teo

What if there was a unit of currency in which the acts of giving and receiving could cultivate friendship and meaningful relationships? What if all time spent is of equal value? What if this currency could enable more active and fulfilling lives for people, especially seniors? As it happens, time holds the potential to act as this alternative form of exchange.

History of time banks

Teruko Mizushima, a Japanese housewife, started the world’s first time bank in 1973. The ideas on which Mizushima based her organisation Volunteer Labour Bank (now Volunteer Labour Network) stemmed from her experiences…

By Liana Tang

What do the sharing economy and the transcendentalist movement have in common?

The chaos and uncertainty that many perceive of the world today have driven people to varying states of distress and perhaps even madness. The general frustrations at industrialised, capitalist society, disdain at the failings of democracies, the futile attempts at achieving aspirations of a happy, fulfilled life — are all reasons why people may seek solace in religion, ideologies, activism. Others less fortunate turn to the destructive — substance abuse, suicide, terrorism.

The world does seem to be failing many. Pollution and extreme climate events…

By Lee Chor Pharn

What comes after Westphalia?

The nation-state rose from the unique path Western Europe took after the Thirty Years War ended in 1648. This defined a particular notion of national sovereignty that then geographically spread from the peninsula of Europe through colonialism to reshape the world. The alternative to nation-states are theocracies, empires, tribes bound by blood, race, ideology, religion wrapped up in the peculiarities of geography. …

By Gurubaran Subramaniam and Calissa Man

2021 begins on a hopeful note as COVID-19 vaccine development, distribution and administration are well underway. However, equitable distribution and quick access on a global scale is unlikely, and the issues surrounding vaccine production and logistics resilience echo similar concerns with global supply chain disruptions during the pandemic.

Early on at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, global supply chains came under significant strain. Governments rapidly sought to mitigate this by facilitating the reshoring of production of essential goods or ramping up local production of those goods. States also began stockpiling critical supplies and…

By Angel Chew

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a third of the world’s population was under some form of lockdown. As 2020 draws to a close, much of Europe has locked down for a second time, and many other countries are imposing some form of lockdown or additional safety measures in anticipation of higher rates of infection from year-end festivities.

Despite curfews and the closure of bars and restaurants, people have still found creative ways to connect with each other while being cooped up at home. In countries where infection numbers are falling and there is an urgency…

By Lucas Loh

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a generational shock, which has increased the salience of preparing for global, long-term threats–including the existential issues of climate change and resource resilience. Governments, businesses and communities have all made public commitments to a more sustainable and resilient post-pandemic world. However, some contend that this newfound burst of interest will be short-lived. Prioritising sustainability and long-term resilience can conflict with more immediate concerns such as supply constraints and limited resources. It is unclear whether commitments and aspirations to sustainability will endure as their costs become clearer and dearer, and as the world…

By Tse Hao Guang

Governments and other organisations are using technological solutions to safely resume economic and social activity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Some solutions, such as track-and-trace technologies to complement manual contact tracing, have been criticised for having limited utility in controlling COVID-19 transmission. Nonetheless, there are signs that bio-surveillance regimes — including immunity certification and the use of contactless biometric authentication like facial and iris recognition — are increasingly being considered as additional pandemic management measures. Beyond the usual trade-offs between safety and privacy, bio-surveillance may have surprising implications both for organisations using them, as well as people…

By Calissa Man and Louise Cheng

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we have looked to past security, health and environmental shocks for ideas about how societies, economies, and governance may change as a result. While the past does not wholly determine our present, the study of other major shocks offers key insights on how human behaviour may change (or not) over time. Here, we offer four lessons from the past.

Lesson 1: Old Divides, New Vulnerables

Past crises deepened or accentuated existing divides around race, age, and class. For instance, the nomenclature for new infectious diseases (for instance the Spanish…

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