We are living in a global context. Humans are traversing the globe more than ever before. This brings citizens of different countries closer together and opens doors to greater understanding of cultural diversity. At the same time, crime, economic and political problems increasingly require international cooperation and support. This course explores a number of social issues from a global perspective. Southern Thailand provides a rich context in which to study issues including culture, gender identity, sexuality, immigration, drug trafficking, natural disasters, expatriation, eco-tourism, development, and traditional communities.
We will begin our trip in Phuket, travel on to Phang Na Province, and end in Bangkok. This itinerary offers an opportunity to view the advantages and problems associated with globalization in both urban and rural settings. Our experiences along the way will color our discussions of course topics including sex and gender, religion, health, crime, education, environment, inequality, and human rights.
Stacey J. Bosick,
Department of Sociology
Did you study abroad as a student?
I lived in Basel, Switzerland the summer between my sophomore and junior years. It was one of the most important experiences of my life. Nobody in my family had ever traveled outside of the country with the exception of Mexico. I had been learning German and wanted to give it a go. I lived with a host family and worked in the bread and cheese section of a grocery store. I remember being really nervous to go but by the time my stay was finished, I felt accomplished and confident that I could travel the world!
Why should Sociology students go abroad?
It is impossible to remove sociological issues from the global context. We are living in a dynamic, fast-paced world and it is essential for us to understand what it means to be connected globally. Going abroad allows us to identify economic, cultural and social influences on our lives and expand our views about issues as diverse as sexuality, immigration and crime.
What was the weirdest thing that happened to you in Thailand?
One of the more unusual things that happened to me in Thailand occurred during a visit to Koh Phra Thong (Golden Buddha Island) in Phang Nga province. A monkey broke into the bungalow I was staying in, ate my toothpaste and defecated on the front stairs on his way out. In this part of Thailand it is not at all unusual to discover that a monkey has ransacked your bungalow. I just think it is weird that he didn’t prefer to eat the tangerines that were lying on the table!
What is your favorite Thai food?
It’s really tough to pinpoint my favorite food from Thailand because there is such a wide variety of amazing tastes! There are lots of street vendors in the urban areas from whom to buy rich curries, papaya salads, noodle dishes, fruit drinks, and sweet treats. It’s comparably inexpensive to eat food from the street vendors, which makes it all the more fun to experiment. It also makes it less devastating when you were hoping to order mango and sticky rice but the language gap resulted in some variety of sausage.
What do you expect students to learn Global Issues in Thailand?
Thailand is an amazing place in which to study global issues. I cannot imagine a better backdrop for the course. We will talk about race relations in a globalizing world and students will have the opportunity to speak with Burmese immigrants about issues of discrimination in Thailand. Students will gain a global perspective on the issue of urbanization, and see firsthand how urbanization often comes at the expense of traditional Thai communities. They will stay in the homes of Thai villagers, participate in service-learning projects and talk to a local police chief about drug and human trafficking. In short, while students will be exposed to key concepts, debates and theories of global issues, the course offers a deep, hands-on learning experience and promises lessons that extend beyond any classroom.