Learning Abroad Center
Students on a field trip in Thailand

Global Change, Community & Families in Thailand

Asia & Oceania

Explore issues of social justice, globalization, and the human ecological impact in the unique setting of northern Thailand’s natural environment.

This program is administered by College of Education & Human Development. Applications are processed by the Learning Abroad Center.

Program Details

Bangkok, Chiang Rai, and Chiang Khong, Thailand
May Session (Spring semester on campus)
Languages Taught In
Languages Taught In
College of Education and Human Development

Program Eligibility

Student Type
Student Type
UofM Students
Non UofM Students
Student Year
Student Year
Graduate Students
2.5 or program leader permission


This interdisciplinary course uses social justice and human ecological lenses to examine global change that is occurring at the intersections among Thailand’s natural environment, communities, families, and culture. Topics include globalization, human trafficking, education, religion, environmental issues, and cultural integration/identity formation, particularly among indigenous populations in northern Thailand. Students interact with key community leaders, village leaders, elders, and students who serve as teachers; this leads to critical understanding of Thai culture and the contemporary issues faced by Thailand’s families and communities. Through journaling, digital stories, blogging, and discussions, students will synthesize, integrate, apply, and communicate what they’ve learned. 

Program Model


Housing & Meals

Students will stay in local hotels throughout the stay in Thailand. Some meals are provided.

Application Deadline

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Program Dates

This is a Spring embedded course that includes additional meetings on campus and a local overnight retreat.

Pre-Departure Orientation: During a class period within the semester 

Spring Semester on-campus class dates: 

  • March 16th - in person
  • April 1-2 (overnight retreat) - 5PM to noon the next day
  • April 13 - online
  • April 20 - online
  • April 27 - in person
  • May 4 - online

Travel Dates: Saturday, May 14th, 2022 - Sunday, May 29th, 2022


Earn 3 credits for: FSoS 4158

This interdisciplinary course uses human ecology and social justice lenses to examine how the forces of migration and global change are influencing communities, families, and culture in northern Thailand.

This is a Spring embedded course that goes abroad in May. There will be five 90 minute classes beginning March 16 during which you’ll learn from cultural insiders about Minnesota’s South East Asian families, communities, and cultures (Hmong, Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian). This will begin to prepare you for immersion in Thai culture; you will begin to understand the deep connections among local and global South East Asian families and communities. We will also retreat overnight at a local Buddhist temple to learn to cook Thai food, practice Thai music and dance, engage in mindfulness meditation with the monks in-residence, and complete a small service project.

This course is designed to meet the Liberal Education Global Perspectives theme at the University of Minnesota. This theme focuses on "assuring U of M graduates have at least one significant academic exposure to the world beyond the U.S. borders and the opportunity to consider the implications of this knowledge for the international community and their own lives". Moreover, this course will meet two student learning outcomes: to understand diverse philosophies and cultures within and across societies, and communicate effectively.

Program Leader

Catherine Solheim has a doctorate in Family Science, and conducts research on refugee family resettlement, family economic well-being, and the influence of culture on various aspects of family life. She has lived and worked in Thailand, speaks fluent Thai, and is deeply connected with the local Minnesota-Thai community.


Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong

Learn about the Hill Tribes peoples (Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lisu, etc.) from HADF, a local NGO; visit local markets; visit the White Temple and the Hill Tribes Museum; spend time with Chiang Rai Rajabhat University students to learn about their lives; observe the ways of life of people living in Hill Tribes villages; interact with village elders, leaders, and families’ engage in projects arranged by HADF rural villages; learn about the centrality of the Mekong River to family well-being and how climate change and politics are affecting the river’s health; visit a local school to learn how they infuse the late King’s “sufficiency economy” philosophy in their curriculum; learn about a local NGO that fights human trafficking and visit a village to learn how a local women’s group is developing leadership skills.

More Information

For more information, contact Marina Aleixo

Program Fee

May 2022 program fee is $5225.

The program fee generally includes tuition and registration fees, orientation and international health insurance. It may also include airfare, housing, excursions and some or all meals. Students will need to budget for their passport and visa fees, meals that are not included, and personal spending money.

If you are registered for less than 13-credits or if you are a non-UofM student or a UofM graduate student, you will be charged tuition for this course in addition to the program fee.  Notify the Learning Abroad Center if this applies to you.



Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.


The COVID-19 vaccine and booster are required by the host country and/or on-site partners and facilities for most study abroad programs. Complete your COVID-19 vaccine doses immediately.

You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.

Apply Now


When you submit your online application, you will be assigned an application checklist that includes:

  • First Step session
  • University of Minnesota Student Release and Waiver Form

Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist.

Next Steps

  1. You will receive an automated email message indicating your application was received.
  2. Follow the instructions on your application checklist to submit the Student Release and Waiver Form.
  3. Your application is not considered complete until the form has been received and you have completed the First Step module. Your completed application will be forwarded to the program leader in the sponsoring college/department for review.
  4. The program leader will notify the Learning Abroad Center of acceptance decisions. If accepted, you will be notified via email and assigned a confirmation checklist, which includes:
    • Health Information Form
    • Confirmation and Payment Agreement
    • Online Health & Safety Orientation
  5. Login to the online application to review the confirmation checklist and submit the required items.
  6. Once you submit all items, your participation will be confirmed and your student account will be billed for the program deposit.
  7. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application and submit a Cancel Request. You must also notify your program leader of your cancellation.