The Southeast Asian Field School

The Southeast Asian Field School is a course initiated by Dr Philip Hirsch at the Department of Geography, Faculty of Geo-sciences, University of Sydney. Each year a group of students from Australia spend a month in the Mekong region to experience field based learning in Southeast Asia. The course focusses on the impact of development in the region, in particular environmental and economic linkages.

Students from the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University (UBU) participate each year in one segment of the field school, joining the University of Sydney and Pakse Student Agricultural College (PSAC) students in Pakse, Laos PDR. The students from the three institutions visit villages in Northeast Thailand and Laos together to learn first hand about the social, economic and environmental impact of government development policies and village life. The students are able to compare the experiences in the two countries. They are also exposed to the different ideas, cultures and learning techniques through their contact with students from other countries.

Since its inception the field school has been a very successful learning experience for students from all three countries. The students appreciate the opportunity to expand their minds and learn outside of the classroom. They also make lasting friendships. In 2005, students from the University of Sydney decided to use excess funds from their trip to award a scholarship for one student from each university in the region to attend a field school' in Sydney, Australia. Five students, including one student from UBU, travelled to Sydney in October 2005. The Australian students from the 2006 Southeast Asia Field School have decided to extend this opportunity once again to students who participated.