Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Chiang Mai Courses - 2020 Fall

Studying abroad can be a more meaningful and invigorating learning experience than at home—both inside and outside of the classroom. You may be more curious and alert than you usually are so use this heightened energy to enhance your studies as well as your cultural and geographical explorations. You may also encounter different teaching styles and course processes; be prepared to adapt and to learn.


You will enroll in 12 to 18 credits each semester comprised of electives in Southeast Asian culture, international relations and development studies. Thai language is not required but strongly encouraged to help you better assimilate into your new life and culture. Course availability is contingent upon student enrollment and is subject to change.

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

To request a course syllabus:


USAC internships are rich resources for your academic and professional development and are counted as part of your credit load. Students will be working in an authentic local environment, with high exposure to Thai language and culture. Thai language ability is not necessary to complete an internship, but helpful. Interns earn credits but no financial compensation. The schedule and the number of work hours will be determined by the schedule of USAC courses.

Previous Chiang Mai placements have included: local schools, teaching English in the community, local non-profits, the Provincial Office, and a local magazine. Placement is not guaranteed by USAC, rather it will be determined by your application and supporting materials and an interview with the internship sponsor on site.

Eligibility: enrollment in the Chiang Mai program, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and junior standing at the time of the internship. A refundable fee of $200 is charged and returned upon successful completion of the internship.

Visiting Professors

Local faculty teach most USAC courses; however, the following US professors are also teaching as Visiting Professors.

Fall Semester:

Dr. Frances Julia Riemer | Northern Arizona University

Courses offered:

Frances is an educational anthropologist, Professor in Educational Foundations, and Associate Faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Her work, research, and teaching in Europe, Southeast Asia, eastern and southern Africa, Latin America, and the US, is focused on education and global citizenship, gender and equity, and tourism and sustainability.

Course Descriptions

Buddhism in Thailand

Fall (Philosophy, Religious Studies; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Philosophy, Religious Studies; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course is an introduction to a wide range of the Buddhist ideas and practices that have developed within the diverse regions of South, Central, and East Asia. The course covers a wide range of Buddhist traditions: Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Chan/Zen, Pure Land Buddhism, etc. The course will address several areas of Buddhist Philosophy such as social, political, religious vs. non-religious, "who am I?", Buddhist Thought and Psychology.

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Buddhist Psychology: Theories and Applications

Fall (Psychology, Religious Studies; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Psychology, Religious Studies; 400-level; 3 credits)

Mindfulness has become a common word in the Western World, and its practice has become increasingly popular in Western psychology, medicine and psychotherapy, there is a growing interest among professionals and the public in traditional Buddhist systems of neurology, psychology and the healing of the physical and psychological.

This course is designed to put the science and practice of Buddhist Psychology into a Western context for a better understanding of Buddhist psychology, with the intention of a genuine "being in the moment" experience and an understanding of how mind, body and consciousness can embody wisdom, awareness, and loving-kindness which can create a happier, healthier life free from physical, mental and psychological suffering.

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Business Ethics and Sustainability

Spring (General Business; 400-level; 3 credits)

Business Ethics and Sustainability will examine the ethical issues and decisions facing us as individuals, as employees and leaders within organizations, and as a society within the global context.

The first part of the course will broadly introduce students to ethical frameworks, dilemmas, decision making, and economic justice. The second part will cover concepts such as sustainable development, fair trade, corporate social responsibility, and social enterprise. Students will delve deeper into specific issues related to business ethics, such as ethical marketing, workplace, and globalization during the final phase of the course.

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Diplomacy in Southeast Asia

Fall (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course is designed to provide students an understanding of the Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), its achievements and challenges, as well as its Member States profiles. We will elaborate on the role of the Association in building a dialogue and security platform for the Asia-Pacific region.

Over this course we will address the multitude and diversity of cultures and political systems in ASEAN, the achievements of the association since its inauguration in 1967, the challenges ahead and its importance for the region and the world.

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Gender and Sexuality Studies

Spring (Women's Studies / Gender Studies; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course is designed to look at Gender and Sexuality as a societal construct, and to how different societies use/experience these constructs. This course will cover the roles that culture and social structure play in experiencing sex/gender identities. There will be particular attention given to deconstruct Western conceptualizations of sex/gender/sexuality, as well as an in-depth look at the construction of their Thai counterparts.

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Global Environmental Politics and Social Movements

Fall (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course offers a broad introduction to issues of global environmental politics. Each week explores a different thematic in this field: including multilateral environmental governance and law; the relationship between the environment and social inequalities; the politics of water, waste and consumption; the social construction of natural disasters and the sociopolitical effects of climate change. Classes will comprise lectures, discussions, student presentations and occasional film clips to enhance engagement with complex issues. The assessment criteria reflects an emphasis on the importance of class participation and interaction in this course.

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Governance and Politics in Asia

Spring (Geography, Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course aims to facilitate students with fundamental knowledge about backgrounds and developments of government and politics in Asia. As Asia counts for approximately 60% of world population and is home to the biggest economic growth between nations, it is crucial that students gain knowledge to interpret the signs of political movements and issues. Main actors in politics and economics in Asia-Pacific will be focused.

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Highland Ethnic Peoples and Social Transformation of Northern Thailand

Spring (Anthropology, Sociology; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course will explore historical background of highland ethnic groups in Northern Thailand and their social transformation. It also covers the state government policies, regionalization, and globalization impacts toward them. Ethnic responses in various aspects will also be explored and discussed. Furthermore, field studies will be organized for students to experience ethnic people’s livelihood and culture.

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Hill Tribe Field Study

Fall (Anthropology; 400-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Anthropology; 400-level; 1 credit)

Students get the chance to participate on an educational tour of the Hill Tribes. This is an excellent opportunity to break the routine of classes and get acquainted with other parts of the country.

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International Business Management

Spring (International Business, Management; 300-level; 3 credits)

The environment that corporations operate in has seen dramatic changes in recent years. International management is now a major challenge facing organizations in this current new century. To succeed in this environment, students must now be knowledgeable about the international dimensions of management. This course enables students to expand their knowledge of management and international business in a range of organizations by engaging in practical business tasks, such as preparing business plans, undertaking negotiations and giving presentations. This course has two primary objectives. The first objective is to provide students with an understanding of the international business environment. The second objective is to provide a context in which students can continue to develop their general business skills, such as analysis, strategic decision-making, presentation skills and writing skills.

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International Organizational Behavior

Fall (General Business, Management; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course exposes students to the interpersonal aspects of working internationally. As the world becomes more globalized, it becomes increasingly important for students to recognize and develop skills that will help them to succeed when working with diverse colleagues and internationally. Topics include cultural values, individual differences, communication, teamwork, and leadership in an international context. Students will learn concepts in an experiential learning environment which includes video, case studies, self-assessments, role playing, and in-class exercises. A portion of the class will be focused on self-development; students will begin to understand their current global mindsets and how they can develop them.

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International Political Economy

Fall (Political Science; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course seeks to provide an introduction to international political economics while situating within the Asian Pacific context in particular. This course examines the theoretical perspectives in relation to political economy. This course adopts a holistic perspective through unraveling the multiple dimensions towards political economic development including geographical, socio-cultural and political factors. Besides, this course incorporates an institutional perspective through discussing international organizations and multi-national corporations and their diverse roles in political economic. Moreover, this course attempts to explore the inadvertent presence of global superpowers and their critical roles in political economic development. Further, this course takes cognizance of social movement in light of the transforming and transnationalizing political economic landscape. Finally, this course offers a critical platform for the discussion of contemporary issues related to this topic.

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Introduction to Thai Language I

Spring (Thai; 100-level; 1 credit)

This is a course for students who have not taken any Thai language courses previously. Its purpose is to provide the students with basic lexical, grammatical, and functional resources to manage in daily situations while studying in Thailand.

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Managerial Economics

Fall (Economics; 300-level; 3 credits)

Students will explore fundamental microeconomic concepts and theories that are applied to model basic managerial decisions. Students will also learn about market force and decision-making, pricing strategies, basic finance, and game theory and behavioral economics. This course is an intermediate analysis of price determination, resource allocation, market structure, consumer behavior, producer behavior, market failure and government failure. Economic approaches to social issues and policy.

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Mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Intervention

Fall (Psychology; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Psychology; 300-level; 3 credits)

Mindfulness meditation and other similar contemplative practices have garnered significant attention from both scholars and practitioners in the past 15 years, especially as it relates to using mindfulness to treat a myriad of psychosocial concerns. This course will introduce students to the concept of mindfulness meditation, specifically as it relates to health, psychology, and other applications through both didactic and experiential learning. Students will study the varied applications of mindfulness-based interventions with special attention given to psychopathology. Students will also be asked to cultivate their own practice of daily meditation/contemplative exercises while also being led by the instructor on various contemplative exercises.

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Peace and Conflict Studies

Spring (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course introduces students to the major themes in the study of peace and conflict. It recognizes the closely interlinked nature of these complex political concepts, and explores the varied modes through which actors have sought to define and explain them. Just as war and other forms of violence and conflict are a constant of human history, so too are ideas and practices that seek the conditions of peaceful (co)existence. We will explore how peace is more than just the absence of war and manifests in different forms in different contexts: just as conflict in global politics is a multi-faceted phenomenon that can (and must) be analysed from a range of perspectives. The first part of the course introduces students to major theoretical paradigms. The second half engages with key thematics integral to the contemporary study of peace and conflict, with a particular focus on the Southeast Asian region.

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People on the Move: Dynamics and Challenges of Global Migration

Fall (Anthropology, Political Science, Women's Studies / Gender Studies; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course explores the global context of migration, including the reasons why people are on the move, the risks faced by people on the move, the rights that people on the move are entitled to, the reaction of governments and individuals to people on the move, and the responses needed to adequately address the needs and challenges of people on the move..

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Reading and Writing Thai Language I

Fall (Thai; 100-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Thai; 100-level; 3 credits)

This is a course for students who are interested in learning Thai orthography, how Thai words are formed and rules for intonations. The purpose of the course is to provide the students (even though they have not taken any Thai language courses before) with basic Thai writing system resources to help them read as well as communicate in daily situations while studying in Thailand.

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Social and Cultural Dynamics in Thailand

Spring (Anthropology; 200-level; 3 credits)

This course provides students with a holistic sociological portrait of Thai culture and society that includes Thai history, political structure, geography, cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs, presence in the global economy, and patterns of daily life.

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Social Entrepreneurship

Fall (General Business; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of the fast-growing field of social entrepreneurship. The first part of the course will provide students with a contextual framework covering some of the major global social problems, with a focus on poverty and inequality, as well as introducing students to the ideas of community development. We will then cover key concepts within the field of social entrepreneurship with a focus on a social enterprise’s ‘fit’ between venture opportunity, entrepreneurial skills and characteristics and resource mobilization. Students will also be introduced to various ways social entrepreneurs can measure the impact and effectiveness of their social enterprises. In the final part of the course students will develop and present a simple business plan for a feasible social enterprise business plan. Throughout the course, students will be challenged to look beyond traditional boundaries and critically assess alternative ways of doing business that develop innovative approaches to some of today’s major social problems including, but not limited to, education, the environment, inequality and healthcare.

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Sustainable Agriculture Development

Fall (Environmental Science, Geography; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Environmental Science, Geography; 300-level; 3 credits)

Students will learn about concepts related to sustainable agriculture development in Thailand while integrating economic, social, and environmental topics. In addition, agriculture systems concerning plant and animal diversity with sustainable production, integrated farming, and climate change will be analyzed in this course. Sustainable agricultural development in the upland and rural area will also be covered. In this course, students will broaden their perspective on efficiency economics, pollution problems, and proposed solutions for better life and sustainability.

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Talking Gender in Thailand: Transnational Feminisms and Gender Studies

Fall (Women's Studies / Gender Studies; 300-level; 3 credits)

Using Southeast Asia as an entry point, the course employs an interdisciplinary transnational frame to explore, address, and analyze critical questions about gender in society. Thailand presents a unique context to explore gender identity, sexual orientation, the construction of gender roles, workplace and everyday practices, politics, and government policies. The course draws on key issues, questions and debates in Women's and Gender Studies scholarship to think critically about the role of gender in Southeast Asia.

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Thai Cuisine

Fall (Nutrition; 200-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Nutrition; 200-level; 1 credit)

This course serves as an introduction to Thai cooking. Students will learn how to prepare typical Thai main dishes, snacks, and desserts. Students will be provided with demonstrations that go over the main characteristics of Thai food. These characteristics include flavors, textures, and aromas which originate from local ingredients (herbs, vegetables, spices) and condiments. Students will be provided with hands on experiences in preparing, cooking and serving each dish. Traditional practices in serving and eating will be emphasized.

Note: Vegan/vegetarian options are also available upon request.

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Thai Language for Daily Communication I

Fall (Thai; 100-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Thai; 100-level; 3 credits)

This is a course for students who have not taken any Thai language courses before. Its purpose is to provide the students with basic lexical, grammatical and functional resources to manage in daily situations while studying in Thailand.

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Thai Language for Daily Communication II

Spring (Thai; 100-level; 3 credits)

This is a course for students who have taken Thai Language or Daily Communication I (or equivalent). Its purpose is to provide the students with basic lexical, grammatical and functional resources to manage in daily situations while studying in Thailand.

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Understanding Northern Thailand: Cultural Studies

Fall (Anthropology, Sociology; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course introduces students to the terms, analytical techniques, and interpretive strategies commonly employed in cultural studies using northern Thailand as our focus. Through field trips, discussion, research, and writing, students investigate dimensions of culture and their broader social, aesthetic, ethical, and political contexts. Given northern Thailand as context, we will ask specific questions about ethnicity and related affiliations, gender, cultural practices, and political dynamics of contemporary society.

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World Economic Issues

Spring (Economics; 400-level; 3 credits)

The purpose of this class is to give students some tools to understand the working of the world economy. Since, so far countries around the world trade goods and services, and factors of production move across their borders every day. This class will (1) help students to understand the effects of these flows and the different policies used by countries to restrict or promote them. (2) This course offers an overview of various aspects of world economy within the field of economic geography and its linkages to related issues of resources, development, international business and trade. It investigates the phenomenon of globalization and seeks to provide understanding of today’s increasingly interdependent world. (3) This course recognizes that economy cannot be treated separately from other domains of social studies so such topics as political economic theories and models, historical context, consumption trends, role of telecommunications, world economic risks (global financial crisis, regional crisis, etc.) and others will be discussed.

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