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Course Offering​s
(click title to download syllabus)
  • Thai Language (Part 1)
  • Institutions in Thai Society
  • Introduction to COSA (Course Offered Online)
Possible Elective Course Offerings

  • Thai Language (Part 2)
  • Introduction to Thai Dance
  • Public Health in S.E. Asia
  • Rights and Activism in S.E. Asia: LGBTQ, Sex Workers and Trafficking
  • International Relations of Mainland SE Asia
  • Self Exploration through Visual Art & Culture of Thailand
  • Government and Politics of Thailand
  • Buddhism in Thai Society
  • Empire, Imperialism and Colonialism in Southeast Asia (not offered Spring 2018)
One Credit Workshop
  • Sex Work, Trafficking and Rescue in Southeast Asia (not offered Spring 2018)
* Some courses may not be offered during a given term. Please inquire. 

Travel and Excursions that Broaden Your Perspective

Guided academic excursions, accompanied by Chiang Mai University professors and staff members, occur throughout the first part of the semester and may include visits to famous monasteries in the Chiang Mai area, hill tribe villages, and other sites of interest in the mountainous region of the north.


Class-related work may include some day trips to nearby sites and possible overnight excursions to Bangkok or Sukhothai, the former capital, and to a lowland and upland village in Northern Thailand. Visits to an elephant rescue camp as well as a multi - day excursion to Mae Sot, the border area with the Burmese refugee camps and a multi - day trip to the Golden Triangle may be some of the program excursion highlights.

IPSL students in Thailand may also work with program staff on-site to arrange for independent travel to other areas. As with all travel, weather and other travel hindrances can affect the exact destinations of excursions. In such cases, IPSL program staff make every effort to find suitable replacement itineraries.

Academic Immersion Focused on Real Cultural Understanding

The program is based at Chiang Mai University, a public university accredited by the Ministry of University Affairs of the Royal Thai government. At Chiang Mai University, you will join with other foreign students in taking required courses and electives for a total of 18 credits per semester.  An official  transcript for all courses is issued by IPSL Institute for Global Learning upon successful completion of the program.


Thai Language (Part 1) 

An introduction to spoken and written Thai. The emphasis is on spoken language competency as it relates to daily life: pronunciation and listening comprehension with additional skills in elementary reading and writing. The course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Thai language. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to communicate effectively, utilizing everyday spoken Thai, and should be able to read consonants, vowels, simple words and short sentences.

Contact Hours: 45 
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3 

Institutions of Thai Society 
Linked to your service experience, this course will explore service-learning cross-culturally by seeking to address some of the social problems facing Thailand, and examine responses from the Thai public sector and members of civil society, including NGOs and religious institutions. Visits to local NGOs, guest speakers, and discussion of articles and Thai social problems are the format for this course.

The purpose of this class is to introduce IPSL students to Thai social problems, social institutions and social change through a combination of academic study and practical service. Through engaging in service students will gain a better academic understanding of these issues. At the same time, the academic understanding will provide a fundamental background for successful completion of the service.

Throughout the course, students will engage in service through placement in a local agency. A key component of service-learning™ is action and reflection. Through the use of journals and class discussions, students will analyze and reflect critically on their service and attempt to integrate it with the learning they have gained from readings and in class.

Contact Hours: 45 
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3 


IPSL Service-Learning Reflections and  Practicum  (Semester Course Offered ONLINE) Undergraduate Course

This course is delivered virtually and begins before departure and completes after returning. The content includes both pre-departure and post departure information, discussion and reflection and serves to compliment the IPSL Institutions in Society Course. The course explores the theories and practical realities of intercultural service-learning to help make sense of the international experience and to develop intercultural competence. One credit will be awarded for 15 hours of academic reflections work and 2 credits for the  hands-on service-learning volunteering.

Contact Hours: 45 
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Possible Elective Courses Offered
Undergraduates may take up to 3 electives in addition to the above three required courses.
Graduates may take 2-3 electives.

You may choose 3 electives for a maximum of 18 credits. Please note that electives vary from term to term and are confirmed approximately one and a half months prior to the start of each term.

Thai Language (Part 2 - Reading and Writing) 

This course is a continuation of Thai Language Part 1. The emphasis remains on spoken language competency as it relates to daily life but also introduces students to the Thai language writing system and basic reading. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to communicate effectively, utilizing everyday spoken Thai and should be able to read consonants, vowels, simple words and short sentences.

Contact Hours: 45 
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3 

Public Health in S.E. Asia

This course examines health challenges and public health solutions in Southeast Asia. After a survey of lead problems and public health approaches in the countries of Southeast Asia, course participants will select a single district in one of the most vulnerable countries in the region (Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia) and propose a public health plan for the district including community, primary health facility and hospital levels. Using available data and a systems approach, this plan will take into account disease burden, manpower,  finance, and social determinants (poverty, ethnicity, gender etc.) The steps in this process will be (a) survey of districts within the target countries to select one district for deep analysis; (b) formation of small working groups to support district plan development in key areas (disease burden, finance etc) with guidance from the professor; (c) prototype plan development; and (d) production of a draft plan.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to describe health care challenges in the region down to the specifics at the local level; propose realistic public health solutions in the form of a first draft proposal in a format appropriate for submission to government and donors; and envision the possibility of a personal career in public health in this region.

Contact Hours: 45 
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3 

Rights and Activism in S.E. Asia: LGBTQ, Sex Workers and Trafficking

Thailand has long been viewed by both visitors and scholars as a paradox of gender and fascinating sexual diversity while concomitantly a popular sex tourism destination. The myth of Thailand as a "gay paradise" abounds yet does it reflect the reality of LGBTQ Thai people? Why is Thailand seemingly so queer-friendly yet still lacking major legal protections for sexual minorities? Why does queer visibility in Thailand not translate into organized activism in similar ways that gay rights have been advocated for and legally codified in the West? 

The bulk of this course will explore the history of queer identities in Thailand and the rise of LGBTQ activism from the 1980s until the present. The second part of this course will tackle the rhetoric and reality behind sex trafficking, the rights of sex workers and the common conflation of migration patterns with human trafficking. Students will be required to critically analyze the global anti-trafficking movement's influence on Thailand and juxtapose this hegemonic discourse with the complex realities of adult sex workers in Southeast Asia. Students are encouraged to use the “classroom” of Chiang Mai, Thailand to observe and reflect on the topics in this course. 

Contact Hours: 45 

Recommended U.S. Credits: 3 

International Relations of Mainland SE Asia 

This course represents an introduction to the international politics of mainland Southeast Asia. Mainland Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  The region is hemmed in by China in the north and India as well as Bangladesh in the west.  Though most people in this region share Buddhism as a common religion, their cultures and languages are vastly different.  Except for Thailand, these countries have also experienced colonization while all the states have had wars with other states or insurrections.  This course frames the issues of conflict and conciliation in mainland Southeast Asia, by utilizing the lenses of Realism, Pluralism, Neo-Marxism, and Social Constructivism to explain and predict events in the region.  Issues examined include border conflicts, non-boundary-related security threats, economics and trade within Southeast Asia, how nationalism has hindered collaboration, prospects for cooperation (e.g. ASEAN), and mainland Southeast Asia’s relations with the great powers.  The course is designed for anyone interested in Southeast Asia or international relations rather than for specialists in the region.  

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Buddhism in Thai Society 

This course will help students develop an understanding of Theravada Buddhism: its doctrines, institutions and values and its role in the personal and social life of people in Thailand. Students will be introduced to Thailand, a Buddhist Kingdom, through the lens of Theravada Buddhism. Particular attention is given to the practice of buddhism looking at its Indian roots. There will be a chance to explore the Mahayana tradition and field visits toBuddhist temples and monasteries in Thailand bring the topic to life.


Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Government and Politics of Thailand

The Thai nation emerged as a social construct, grouping together various peoples under a common political identity. Since World War II, the country gradually stabilized, both politically and economically. Thailand today has fast emerged as a thriving economy, an evolving constitutional monarchy, and an increasingly important player in the regional politics of Southeast Asia as well as an actor on the larger world stage. As such, Thailand represents a significant case study of a "second generation" developmental state, following Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

This course examines the evolution of Thai governmental structures as well as Thailand’s political and socioeconomic development over the last 75 years. Prominent themes will include dictatorship and democratization, globalization, decentralization, human rights, and Thailand’s position on the global/regional stage. Why is Thailand struggling to democratize? Exactly how consolidated is pluralism today and how imbedded are civil liberties? Why is there an insurgency in southern Thailand? What is the situation of ethnic minorities in the country? Why is Thailand economically ahead of many of its neighbors? This course will study these and other related questions.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Self Exploration through Visual Art & Culture of Thailand

Our eyes are open more hours than they are closed. What do we see? How are these images, people, signs, buildings, colors and etc., affecting us, communicating with us, and what is the emotional impact on us from seeing these images? And how do these images convey meanings to us? This is a course where students will deepen their perceptions through exploring visual images about art and culture while living in Thailand. Class exercises and homework are tools used to stimulate questions and feelings on a personal level for students in relation to where they are studying

abroad in Thailand.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3


Introduction to Thai Dance (Two Credit Course)

In this introductory course, students will approach and expand their dance technique via interdisciplinary methods and experience Thai arts, culture, and history through the principal techniques and styles of Thai dance. The class will focus on dances from different regions, including Central, Northern, Eastern and Southern Thailand. Each dance form reflects the similarities and differences among each region’s history, arts, culture, ethnicity, religion, and ritual as well as influences from border countries such as Burma, Laos, and Cambodia. The class will view dance videos and local community and stage dance performances in Northern Thailand in order to support and expand their visual and embodied knowledge of in-class lessons. Issues such as the use of dance forms to produce and reinforce local and national cultural identity and the effect of heritage concepts and tourism will be discussed. The course will culminate in a short program of dances performed by all students for an invited audience.


Contact Hours: 30

Recommended U.S. Credits: 2