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  • Locations: Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Program Terms: Winter Quarter
  • Budget Sheets: Winter Quarter
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Affiliated Department: CHID Foreign Language Required: None
Primary Language(s) of Instruction: English UW Credits: 15
Estimated Program Fee: 5500 UW Program Director: Kimberly Roberts, Mollie E Pepper
UW Study Abroad Program Manager: Darielle Horsey UW Program Staff Email:,
Program Information:

Location Chiang Mai, Thailand
Academic Term Winter Quarter
01/06/2020 - 03/13/2020
Estimated Program Fee $6,300
Credits 15
Prerequisites None
Program Directors Mollie E Pepper |
Kimberly Roberts |
Program Manager Darielle Horsey |
Priority Application Deadline May 15th
Information Sessions April 18th 1:00-2:00 & 3:00-4:00 in Padelford C-101

Program Description

Directed by sociologist Mollie Pepper and geographer Kimberly Roberts, this program offers students an interdisciplinary look at human rights in practice in the context of the Thailand-Burma border.

Human rights are widely conceived of as an almost self-explanatory social good, of which women's rights are a part. What is not often considered is the work that goes into building these rights in practice, especially in conditions of conflict and oppressive states. Particularly obscured are the gender aspects of human rights violations, which can include direct violence against women and children as well as indirect violence. Of central importance is the leveraging of men's and women's identities in facilitating oppression by framing men primarily as actors and combatants and women as victims. During ten weeks on the Thailand-Myanmar border, this program considers the gender dimensions of conflict and oppression and the crucial work of local organizations in combating human rights violations, with particular attention to gender and ethnicity.

Myanmar (often referred to by its former name of Burma) has been a highly oppressive and closed state where the military regime has held the country in isolation for nearly 70 years. It is also a highly diverse state with 135 recognized ethnic groups struggling for autonomy against the Burmese military. The result of the repressive regime and protracted conflict has been mass displacement into the border areas and neighboring countries. In Thailand in particular, activist groups, have worked tirelessly for human rights, peace, livelihood support, and democracy from exile. Although in recent years a democratically elected government gained power and a peace process began, the processes of democratization and peacebuilding are slow and painstaking, and activism is more crucial as ever as change comes to the country.

This program explores the human rights, livelihoods, conflict, and the peacebuilding process in Myanmar by examining the dynamics of ethnicity, gender, and power on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Based primarily in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a field trip to the border town of Mae Sot, Fang, and Chiang Rai, we will collaborate with several local organizations that work on social services, livelihood support, and human rights advocacy to learn about the complexity of what human rights activism looks like in practice.

Through an interdisciplinary curriculum comprised of literature, current events, ethnography, and creative nonfiction, as well as site visits to local community organizations and ethnic women's groups, students will develop a better understanding of the ethnic and gender dynamics of migration, social movements, conflict, and peacebuilding.

During eight weeks in Chiang Mai, students will meet with peace activists, local and international nongovernmental organizations serving the population of people from Burma living in Thailand, and human rights organizations. Chiang Mai is a major hub of activism for people from Burma living in exile and is also a vibrant Thai city known for its arts and food. We will spend two weeks in Mae Sot, a town directly on the Thailand-Burma border and home to a huge number of migrants and refugees as well as nongovernmental organizations that serve the migrant and refugee communities. Here, students will develop a stronger sense of the border through our exploration of multiple sites, including the border itself, migrant schools, and activist organizations. We will also spend one week in Fang, a town near the Thailand-Burma border and home to a large number of migrants. In Fang, we will spend three days visit the Thai-NGO Upland Holistic Development Project and lean about the livelihood, gender, and citizenship work they do with ethnic minority migrant communities in Thailand. On our way back to Chiang Mai, we will also spend a few days in a Palaung village. Here, students will learn about the challenges facing migrant communities in Thailand and learn about the agricultural innovations they've implemented to make their livelihoods easier. Our final major field trip will involve traveling up to Chiang Rai. There we will visit a Lahu migrant village and learn about the advocacy work they have done about community forestry and livelihood management. We will also visit a few activist groups along the way.

Coursework will consist of individual and group projects, classroom lecture and discussion, field excursions, site visits, individual analysis, and the development of an individual research project.





Chiang Mai, Thailand


We will be primarily staying at the PT Residence in the Nimman area of Chiang Mai.



Prerequisites and Language Requirements

None This program involves a considerable amount of walking, some bicycling, and potential trekking and some camping-type sleeping arrangements.


15 UW Quarter Credits


CHID 474A: Nature and Society: Displacement, Resource Management, and Environmental Justice (5 credits) I&S, Diversity, CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement/CHID Power & Difference

This course introduces students to the multi-disciplinary field of political ecology, which considers the role of power and politics in shaping human and environment interactions. Over the past three decades, Political Ecology has emerged as a powerful interdisciplinary critique of ecological change. Simply put, Political Ecology is a strategy for mapping political, economic, and social factors onto questions of environmental degradation and transformation. After taking this course, students should be able to identify and explain ways in which power and politics influence the nature/society relationship and analyze socio-environmental issues under the lens of political ecology, especially within the context of the borderlands of Thailand and Myanmar.

Learning goals include:
Learning goals include: • Understand and explain the origins of and key debates in political ecology • Understand the contributions of anthropology and ethnography to discussions • Contemporary and historical environmental change • Apply perspectives in political ecology to tease apart key assumptions in statndard environmental debates (Neo-Malthusianism, scarcity, nature/culture, etc.) • Use a political ecology lens to explain and evaluate real world problems in historical, geographical, and cultural context • Write, speak, and communicate more clearly about the politics of environmental change

CHID 474B: Ethnicity, History, and Intersectional Identities in Myanmar (5 credits) I&S, Diversity, CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement/CHID Power & Difference

Myanmar is a highly diverse country with 135 recognized ethnic groups, each with its own history, culture, and language. This course focuses on the history and current affairs of Myanmar, with special attention to ethnic dynamics and their relationship to politics, culture, and conflict in the country. This course will provide essential contextual information that will enhance students' experience of the rest of the program, as well as serve as a standalone introduction to issues surrounding ethnic politics, diversity, and self-determination. Myanmar's diversity will also serve as the point of departure for developing understanding of intersectionality and how to conduct an intersectional analysis.

Learning goals include:
Learning goals include: • Develop an understanding of the complexity of identity and its role in political life. • Learn to conduct an intersectional analysis of issues surrounding politics, economics, culture, and citizenship. • This course will be assessed through a project in which students will choose one topic for exploration and develop an intersectional analysis that will culminate in a final presentation.

CHID 474C: Human Rights, Social Movements, and Conflict Transformation (5 credits) I&S, Diversity, CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement/CHID Power & Difference

This course will begin with a review of foundational documents of the United Nations and Asia regional human rights organizations. With this background, guest lectures and site visits with human rights activists and organizations will show how theory is put to action in the context of a highly repressive political regime and ongoing conflict. To push the content of the course further, we will examine how these groups and individual activists leverage widely accepted notions of human rights and transnational networks of human rights activists to move toward the resolution of conflict and realization of human rights in Myanmar. The result will be an opportunity to think critically about the implementation of human rights principles in practice.

Learning goals include:
Learning goals include: • Acquire a familiarity with and understanding of foundational human rights documents and principles. • Learn to critically assess the connections between human rights theory and practice • Students will be assessed through weekly writing reflections that integrate course readings and discussions with site visits and guest lectures. The final project will be a critical analysis of an aspect of human rights of the students' choosing that uses the course material as a point of departure for further inquiry. This analysis will take the form of a final paper.





Mollie E Pepper
Part-time Lecturer, CHID

Kimberly Roberts
Part-time Lecturer, CHID





Program Expenses

Estimated Program Fee: $6,300

Included in the program fee:

  • $450 Study Abroad Fee
  • $350 CHID Fee
  • Instruction
  • Housing
  • Program activities and program travel
Not included in the program fee:
  • Airfare (average price subject to when and where your buy your ticket - $1,600)
  • Food (about $12/day)
  • UW Student Abroad Insurance ($1.64/day)
  • Other health expenses/immunizations
  • Personal spending money

Payment Due Date: January 24, 2020

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Financial Aid

  • A large percentage of UW students utilize financial aid to study abroad. Most types of financial aid can be applied to study abroad fees.
  • You can submit a revision request to increase the amount of aid for the quarter you are studying abroad. These additional funds are usually awarded in the form of loans. To apply, fill out a revision request form, attach the budget sheet (available via the link at the top of this brochure) and submit these documents to the Office of Student Financial Aid.  For more information about this process, consult the Financial Aid section of our website.
  • Consult the Financial Aid section of our website for more information on applying for financial aid, special considerations for summer and early fall programs, and budgeting and fundraising tips.


  • There are many scholarships designed to fund students studying abroad. The UW Study Abroad administers a study abroad scholarship program and there are national awards available as well.
  • Scholarships vary widely in their parameters. Some are need-based, some are location-based, and some are merit-based.
  • To be considered for a UW Study Abroad Scholarship fill out a short questionnaire on your UW Study Abroad program application.  You must apply by the priority application deadline for the program in order to be considered for a scholarship.  Click the Overview tab to view application deadlines.
  • Consult our Scholarships page to learn about UW-based and national scholarships. The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards can help you learn about additional opportunities.

Budgeting Tools

We understand that figuring out your finances for study abroad can be complicated and we are here to help. Below are some ways to find additional support.

  • Click on the Budget Sheets link at the top of this brochure to view the estimated budget of all expenses for this program.
  • Contact the Global Opportunities Adviser at to learn more about how to pay for study abroad.
  • Attend a Financial Planning Workshop offered by UW Study Abroad – more information is on the Events page of our website.
  • Visit the Finances section of our website.



Application Process

The study abroad application includes a personal statement, three short answer questions, one recommendation from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the online application process, you may be contacted by the program director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


To be eligible to study abroad, you must complete the mandatory pre-departure online orientation provided by UW Study Abroad. You must also attend program-specific orientations offered by the program director.

You will be able to access the online orientation through your study abroad application once you have been accepted to a program. Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. This is an especially important consideration if you are planning to do more than one study abroad program. You can research visa requirements by contacting the consular offices of those countries. You can read more about this topic on the Passports and Visas page of the UW Study Abroad website. 

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $450 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable once you have submitted a contract. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy will be included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the business day a withdrawal application is received by UW Study Abroad. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

  1. Provide notice in writing to the program director that you will no longer be participating in the program.
  2. Submit a withdrawal application to UW Study Abroad.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.