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2017 Field School

Location: THAILAND

Dates: May 21 - Aug 6, 2017


This research program will provide grounded ethnographic training to the student members of the research team while we conduct cutting-edge research on theoretically innovative topics. Students will receive mentored training in ethnographic research (including a broad array of social science methods) and use these skills to conduct fieldwork on various topics. This program is based in the Department of Anthropology but is relevant to a wide variety of research interests including art, Asian studies, folklore, history, law, linguistics, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, and sociology.


We are currently seeking applicants for student members of the research team. We will be spending approximately twelve weeks conducting fieldwork, but the team will work together before the field to prepare the research, as well as after the field to work towards publishing the results. 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 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. In other words, as students receive training they are also fully participating members of the research team. 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 fields. 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 12 weeks and will be located in a Hmong village near Chiang Mai in Thailand. Students will be living with Hmong host families. This immersive experience will facilitate the ethnographic research that we undertake during the summer. Regular lectures and discussion will provide the basis of the in-field training, but we will also attend community events and rituals together as team members as we collect and analyze data collaboratively.



All student-members who are accepted into the program are expected to attend a pre-departure preparation class during the previous semester. A 3-credit Hmong language/culture 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 coursework. Academic Internship courses and graduate credit can be arranged as well, and we try to customize the precise course offerings to fit the curricular needs of each student as much as possible. Critically, all coursework in the program is centered around the research training and gaining theoretical and methodological knowledge that pushes the research forward. 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 with Hmong host families in the community where we are conducting the research. There will likely also be the opportunity to visit other Hmong communities in other parts of Thailand.



--Approximately $5,600 - $6,400 (final cost will be partially determined by the number of students)

--The program fee INCLUDES the following expenses: TUITION for the corresponding coursework (typically 12 credits); lodging and two meals a day for the duration of the program; international health insurance; local research assistants and translators to assist students (those not fluent in Hmong) with their interviews and other dimensions of their data collection; group travel.

--The program fee EXCLUDES (expenses students will take care of on their own): Airfare to and from Thailand; vaccinations; lunch every day; personal travel; any additional research expenses not covered by the program.



The application deadline is December 1st. 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 THAILAND DEVELOPMENT program for Spring/Summer 2017.


The application steps include:
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 director. Students will be notified via email if they are accepted to the program.

Further information can be found at the above site or by contacting the student coordinator, Madison Harmer, at

Information Meeting Scheduled for Wednesday, October 26th at 7:30pm (MST) 

in 270 SWKT on the BYU Campus


If you are not able to attend in person, you can watch the session on this site by watching the Youtube archive or through a Google Hangout session (live) in a separate window. You can submit questions prior to the session on the Google Hangout Event by clicking on the event, selecting the grid at the top, and clicking on Q&A, then submitting your question. 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.


The Hmong Diaspora Field School is a team-based research program that focuses on understanding the social and cultural dynamics in the Hmong Diaspora. In past years, the director of the program, Dr. Jacob Hickman, has directed sessions of the field school in Northern Thailand in 2012 and 2013, in China and Vietnam in 2015, and in France in 2016 (see the links for photos and information on these past field schools). In 2017 the program will focus on a community of Hmong in Thailand. Although Hmong culture originated in China, there are currently large Hmong populations in various parts of Southeast Asia and in France, the United States, and other Western countries. Hmong have their own unique language and culture, and comprise the second largest ethnic minority in Thailand.

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