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2015 Field School


Dates: May 24 - Aug 8, 2015



We are currently seeking applicants for an ethnographic field school to be held in Hmong communities in the border region of China and Vietnam during the summer of 2015. We will be spending approximately six weeks in each country engaging in comparative research on Hmong culture in both places. This is an opportunity to get course-credit and participate in a mentored research program. The program is run through the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University, and students will get anthropology course credit through BYU (which can potentially be transferred elsewhere). The thrust of this program is on learning and applying ethnographic research skills relevant to various social sciences and humanities disciplines. Coursework will therefore include credit for the training and research conducted on the program. This program will include both graduate and undergraduate students from various disciplines who are interested in gaining research skills and conducting original fieldwork in a mentored environment.



A field school is a particular type of study abroad program that focuses on a mentored research experience in the communities where the field school is held. While all study abroad programs seek to integrate classroom learning with the resources available in the host country, field schools emphasize learning and applying research skills in order conduct fieldwork and to answer scholarly questions in various disciplines. Thus, the emphasis in a field school is on the research experience itself, rather than just mastering a body of content. Field school students design and conduct research projects under the mentorship of the program faculty. This includes learning and applying skills of data collection and analysis in order to address the research question. In addition to the cultural immersion experience, students come out of field school programs with valuable research and analysis skills (which go beyond the typical undergraduate training) that can be applied to a wide variety of disciplines and majors. For students looking to conduct original fieldwork for a thesis, this program offers an immersed fieldwork experience where one can draw upon the contact base and resources of the directing faculty to conduct thesis research. 



This program will last 11 weeks and this time will be split between Lao Cai Province in Vietnam and Wenshan Prefecture of Yunnan Province in China. We will be conducting research in Hmong communities in both locations. The goal of this program is to give students mentored research field experience. Students will conduct fieldwork on their individual projects under the mentorship of the directing faculty, or may work to collect and analyze data on the directing faculty's current research projects. Students will also receive in-field training on social research methods. This program is based in the Anthropology Department but is relevant to a wide variety of research interests including art, Asian Studies, folklore, history, law, linguistics, medicine, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, public health, religious studies, and sociology. Students can contact the director to discuss research topics of relevance or to learn more about the director's projects the will be running during the program.



All students who are accepted into the program are expected to attend a pre-departure preparation class during the previous semester. A 2-credit Hmong language course will also be required for those who do not have any training in Hmong language (or native speakers). Remote participation in these courses (e.g., via Skype) can be arranged.



During the program students will typically take a total of 9-12 credits. The courses offered during the program include Ethnographic Research Methods and Ethnographic Field Project, Hmong Culture and History, and related theoretical courses. Academic Internship courses and graduate credit can be arranged as well. Participants will be registered as BYU students, and will receive BYU course credit. Students will be responsible for transferring credit to their home institutions, but the director can assist by providing syllabi or other course materials and justifications for students to arrange the transfer.



Housing will be arranged as part of the program, and will include staying in guest houses in close proximity (walking distance) to the Hmong communities where we will be conducting research daily. There will likely also be the opportunity for shorter home stays in the villages.



--Approximately $6,000

--The program fee INCLUDES the following expenses: TUITION for the corresponding coursework (typically between 6 and 12 credits); Lodging and two meals a day for the duration of the program; international health insurance; Local research assistants / translators to assist students with their interviews and other dimensions of their data collection; In-country excursions (most likely Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and a few other locations in Vietnam, travel around Yunnan in China; the nature and extent of these excursions will depend on the number of students enrolled.); visa fees (students must already have a passport)

--The program fee EXCLUDES (expenses students will take care of on their own): Airfare (approximately $1200-$1500); Vaccinations; lunch every day; Personal travel; Any additional research expenses not covered by the program.



The application deadline has been changed to December 31st. In order to apply, click here and start an application (for non-BYU students this link includes instructions on setting up a BYU NetID). Select the SOUTHEAST ASIA FIELD SCHOOL for Spring/Summer 2015.

1) Submit the supporting documents online. Complete letters of recommendation are not necessary. Rather, once you have started your online application, please email contact information for two references to (indicate the name of the program and your NetID), and they will add that reference information to your application.

2) Include the following in your letter of intent: Why you are interested in this program, the topics that you may be interested in researching, language skills, experience related to your major, international experience.

3) Pay the application fee (the fee is collected by the Kennedy Center, which administers the application database).

4) Once the online application is complete, applicants will formally interview with the program's director. Students will be notified via email if they are accepted to the program.

Information Meeting Scheduled for Thursday, December 11 at 6pm (MST) 

in 230 SWKT on the BYU Campus


If you are not able to attend in person, you can participate in the session live on this site by playing the video below, or by watching live on Youtube or through a Google Hangout session in a separate window. If you would like to ask a question during this session, please submit your question on the Q&A in Google Hangouts or text your question to 385-204-6023. You will also be able to watch an archive of the video here afterwards.

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