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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Khon Kaen, Thailand
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: CIEE 
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2019 09/26/2018 10/12/2018 TBA TBA
Fact Sheet:
Areas of Study: Environmental Science, Journalism, Sociology Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.75
Academic Level: Sophomore Language of Instruction: English, Thai
Housing Options: Apartment, Host Family
Program Description:


Start doing. What better way to begin understanding the complexities surrounding environmental, development and globalization issues, than to engage with and confront them yourself? In Thailand, you’ll engage in a real-world learning model to examine issues of development and social justice on a grassroots level.

Study abroad in Thailand where coursework and the classroom are a springboard, propelling you out into the field where you’ll interact with, learn from and contribute to communities and organizations in the Northeast of the country.

In Thailand you will:

  • Immerse yourself in Thai culture through community stays, translated exchanges, Thai student roommates, and peer tutors
  • Spend significant time living and exchanging with villagers and NGOs
  • Conceive, collaborate on, and present a final, group project which uses methodical, field-based research and contributes to the public sphere
The program will challenge you to assess the effectiveness and far-reaching implications of environmental and development projects, and investigate the relationship between international  the role of developed countries.

The CIEE Difference

  • Examine the broad range of development and environmental issues which affect local communities and the relation of these issues to greater development schemes of neighboring countries.
  • Study the work of grassroots social movement leaders and broad-based coalitions; representatives from non-governmental and governmental organizations; journalists; political advocates and human rights activists; and people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Study proper research methods and conceptualize how to put together photo essays, and articles appropriate for program and outside publications, effectively building cases within a human rights context.
Field Work

The program seeks to bring you into authentic exchange with villagers, NGOs, and others who are working for social change at the grassroots level. You can expect to spend much of your time traveling and staying in communities. Past activities have included:
  • Compiling a series of community oral histories
  • Preparing a photo series accompanied by background voice recordings of villagers explaining their livelihood
  • Writing a series of nine economic, social, and cultural rights reports in cooperation with local community organizations.
You’ll also participate in various site visits to explore methods and outcomes of sustainable agriculture and development in a local community.

Professional Instruction

The field is your classroom – local professionals you teachers. Government officials and practitioners from local NGOs offer guidance during visits to various development projects; freelance photographers and journalists work with and advise you on projects throughout the semester


Total recommended credit for the semester is 15 semester/22.5 quarter hours.

The required Thai language course at the Beginning level has 65 contact hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course. Students in Intermediate and Advanced Thai have 55 contact hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours. Language is taught intensively during the first three weeks of the program.

The contact hours for The Human Perspective on Development and the Environment are 115 and recommended credit is 6 semester/9 quarter hours.

The Directed Research Field Study/Practicum has 96 contact hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours.

Social Research Methods has 45 contact hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours.

Program Requirements

Study abroad students are required to take The Human Perspective on Development and the Environment, Directed Research Field Study/Practicum, Social Research Methods, and one Thai language course at their level.

About Khon Kaen

Located in the center of the Northeast region of Thailand, known as Isaan, Khon Kaen is Thailand’s fourth largest city with a population of over 300,000. About 300 miles north of Bangkok, it is the educational and government center of the Northeast, as well as the headquarters for many development organizations working in the region. Compared to other parts of Thailand, the Northeast has retained many traditional Thai customs, as well as Lao and Khmer influences.

Where You’ll Study

Khon Kaen University (KKU), the major educational institution in the Northeast, is located four kilometers north of the city on 2,500 acres of partially wooded land. Founded in 1964, KKU has 19 faculties that offer Bachelor’s, Master’s, and professional degrees in such fields as law, health and medicine, social sciences, humanities, education, agriculture, business, engineering, and the physical sciences. KKU has 44,000 students, 31,000 undergraduate students and 13,000 postgraduate students, There are approximately 1,500 full-time faculty members and 4,000 part-time faculty and staff. The program offices and classrooms are located just off campus at the CIEE Study Center.

Housing & Meals

Housing is included in the study abroad program fee. While not on community visits and staying with host families, students live in an off-campus accommodation with a Thai roommate. The accommodations are located a short walk from where classes are held. Meals while not on community visits are not included in the program fee and are the responsibility of the student. Students can take meals at the University cafeteria or local restaurants.

Academic Program

Based at Khon Kaen University since 1991, the program’s focus on development and the environment was established in 1994. Since 2007, the program has placed a special emphasis on using international and national human rights frameworks to understand grassroots and social justice issues.

Academic Culture

The required core course combines classroom-based academics with extensive practical field experience. The study abroad program employs an alternative “people-to-people” educational approach. Students spend significant time living and exchanging with villagers and NGOs in the Northeast of Thailand. Faculty from the University and program staff prepares students in the classroom, while government officials and practitioners from local non-governmental organizations provide guidance during the visits to various development projects. The friendships built during homestays ideally lead to well-informed projects that are tailored to contribute to the public sphere (i.e. newspaper articles, reports, website publications, campaigns, etc.).

All courses contain extensive experiential components. All program activities emphasize peer learning and group organization. Students become aware of their own learning styles and find ways to work productively with one another in service to local communities. Using what is called, “group process,” students create common goals, lay out ground rules, and learn to provide constructive feedback all as part of a more holistic approach to education. As part of this process, students interested in building facilitative leadership skills are encouraged to take part in the workshop series called Workshops on Ongoing Leadership in Facilitation (WOLF).

The program’s language instruction utilizes a proficiency-based approach designed to help students function effectively in everyday communicative situations. Courses at all levels combine intensive classroom learning with the use of peer tutors and interactive exercises. Language classes are offered at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels.