Locations:Bangkok, Thailand;Bellingham, Washington, United States;Chiang Mai, Thailand;Kanchanaburi, Thailand;Kui Buri National Park, Thailand;Mae Sot, Thailand;Pang Na Province/Moken Village, Thailand;
** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainability is a two-month field program in village communities in rural Thailand. It combines academic studies in Southeast Asian culture, history, religion, and politics, with opportunities for service learning and participation in grassroots community development. The program seeks to enhance empathy across cultures, heightening awareness of the power of culture and education, and celebrating diversity.
A primary focus will be learning about indigenous knowledge and its relation to social and environmental well-being. The program is run in partnership with the Institute for Village Studies. We are looking for students that are passionate about social and environmental justice, can cope with adversity, and work well in a team. If this is you, join us next winter in Thailand!
Program or Course Highlights:
Explore issues of sustainability and social justice in rural Thailand, with a focus on indigenous knowledge and practice
Work with grassroots organizations on community development projects
Learn about sustainable fishing and conservation with the Moklen, one of the few remaining sea nomadic communities
Trek in the jungles of Kui Buri National Park, home to over 300 wild elephants
Expectations of Participants:
Students should be prepared for a variety of activities outside of a traditional classroom setting. It is common to walk 4-10 miles a day in the mountains at altitude, and students will often be asked to sit on the floor. Students should be able to survive without western comforts for the duration of the trip, especially during homestays in rural villages. Students must be able to use squat toilets, be okay with limited access to the internet and be able to live without the comforts of home (i.e., hot showers and western food). Due to the unpredictability of electricity in rural areas, it is impossible for us to guarantee access to refrigeration throughout the entire trip.
Alex received his BA in Cultural and Regional Studies from Prescott College in 2008 and an MA in Southeast Asian Studies from Chulalongkorn University in 2016. As a lover of travel and working in multicultural environments, he spent twelve years living in Thailand where he learned to speak fluent Thai. He’s contributed to projects surrounding micro-hydro energy, sustainable agriculture and fishing, antihuman trafficking and youth outreach, village based education, and language and cultural preservation initiatives. He has also worked as an interpreter for the US Federal Courts. Alex has led over ten trips with the Institute For Village Studies in Thailand, Myanmar, India, and Bhutan.
IMPECT Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPECT) works with a variety of Indigenous Peoples sharing similar situations and experiences, applying traditional knowledge and practices to all aspects of development work. IMPECT works as an association, providing opportunities for participation and ownership of development activities to representatives of the different indigenous groups. The four main areas of action are Cultural Revival and Alternative Education, Promotion of the Environment and Natural Resource Management, Enhancement of Indigenous Peoples’ Movements and Networks and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. Here is an article about the school we had the privilege of working with during a previous trip.
Ban Taptawan is a Moklen village along Thailand’s Andaman coast. The Moklen are one of Thailand’s three last nomadic sea peoples and some of the few remaining worldwide. However, their traditional way of life is under threat due to large-scale coastal development, marine pollution, over-fishing, and lack of secure property rights.
To help preserve their culture and earn income for the community they are trying to create a sustainable model for tourism that shares their way of life and promotes conservation. They have also begun working with IMPECT to create larger networks between indigenous and ethnic communities in Southern Thailand and organize to advocate for their rights.