This seminar will cover the key thematic issues of political economy and ecology of Thailand and Myanmar. Students will connect their experiences to theories and concepts that explain political development and ecological issues relating to the challenges of nationalism, state formation, regional integration, regional development, the rise of the power of non-state actors, and the struggles for citizen-sovereignty of the people in Thailand and Myanmar. We will examine these frontier issues against the backdrop of Southeast Asia’s societal evolution through kingdoms, colonial eras, emergence of nation-states, the influence of globalization, and environmental changes.

This seminar emphasizes understanding and linking the theories and practices of political economy and ecology of Southeast Asia by experiencing life in Thailand and Myanmar. Students will gain a fundamental and first-hand understanding of conceptual issues, empirical evidence, and theoretical puzzles that resonate in Southeast Asian politics and development but are also relevant to many other regions of the world. 

In conjunction with the formal coursework, students will live with local families, intern or volunteer at local organizations, take part in village social life (mushroom hunting, pineapple harvesting, water system building), and participate in the implementation of globally-driven development projects. This program is highly experiential and activities and schedules are subject to change with very little notice, so students must be prepared to be flexible.