Course Details

Program dates


Travel dates


Course credits

INTL 437

Total credits: 15


Instructor Approval

Julia Babcock

Senior Project Manager, Portland State University

Southeast Asia is often seen as a leader in global development and innovation. The pace of economic growth in the region is unmatched, which is made possible through a formidable government apparatus, access to education, robust public health systems, and regional trade policies. However, the consequences of ‘growth’ as development throughout Asia are starting to be felt. Regional inequalities and multidimensional poverty are becoming more apparent, which are often made worse by climate change. Despite disparities in the global system, local grassroots actions are beginning to profoundly impact regional environmental conservation, human rights, and social justice. These grassroots efforts are now starting to shift local policy to prioritize the environment and the livelihoods of residents.

During this intensive two-month field program, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the global geopolitical system that guides local development and international policy, as well as learn directly from those living in communities facing these challenges firsthand. We will explore various participatory approaches to development, governance, and community building in cooperation with local partners. This will include learning directly from those working to protect indigenous knowledge, cultures, and practices. Through an intellectually and physically rigorous schedule of cultural study, intercultural interactions, and reflection, the course promises to be both unique and transformative.

This 15-credit course is designed to enable students to get the most out of their international experience by developing knowledge, skills, values, and their application in an intercultural context.

Program Highlights

Image of a student studying outside
  • Learn about Southeast Asian culture, heritage, and history through the eyes of local students and community members we will work with and live alongside during our travels
  • Spend six weeks in SE Asia working with local stakeholders, including government officials, NGOs and local university students
  • Identify elements of equitable international partnerships and how they are initiated, nurtured and sustained while gaining deeper insight into sustainable development, environmental conservation and community building
  • Learn about the daily life of villagers and traditional fishing and agricultural practices, as you visit communities you would not have access to as a tourist
  • Develop professional skills in community-based research, development, participatory engagement and project management
  • Support local development efforts of communities in Vietnam and Thailand

More information

Image of students in SE Asia

Expectations of Participants

The time walking & sitting varies from day-to-day. With or without reasonable accommodations, participants must be able to walk or stand 3-6 hours/ day, especially when the class is in motion. Activities include walking, biking, swimming, etc. as we move around urban and rural areas with local partners. All participants must be able to walk 2-5 miles per day and carry their own supplies (e.g., water, school supplies, etc.).

Due to the remote location of this program, we cannot guarantee access to refrigeration. However, we may be able to make accommodations with advanced notice.

Students must work with the WWU Disability Access Center, Wilson Library 170, (360) 650-3083, For service eligibility, a complete diagnostic description from a qualified professional is required. Specific accommodations or services are determined on an individual basis and are modified to meet the unique needs of the student and their academic experience. Accommodation policies and procedures are highly individualized and centered on self-advocacy, realistic self-appraisal, and student growth. Each quarter, students need to activate their approved accommodations for each class. Students choose which of their approved accommodations they want to activate for each class.

We strongly recommend that all students traveling on this Global Learning Program are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to maximize the safety of the student cohort. Participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to departure, or provide a proof of an official COVID-19 vaccination waiver granted by WWU..

Students will need to obtain a visa and support will be given by InPlace who will work with partners at local institutions to secure student visas.

Participants are expected to abide by all attendance policies of the program, including those for classes and excursions, and to adhere to the program schedule. Since the programs are academic in nature, parents, friends, partners, and families are not permitted on any part of the Global Learning Program. Personal travel must be outside of the course dates and not conflict with coursework or excursion schedules. Travel plans should be vetted by faculty beforehand to ensure personal plans do not interfere with meeting the learning objectives of the course.

Student working with leaves in SE Asia