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Thailand: Buddhism & Conservation

Study emerging models in conservation and education. Understand nature through Buddhist philosophy.

Course Overview

Travel to Thailand to investigate this country’s astonishing Old World rain forests and diverse cultural environments. This course will address key topics in ecology while exploring emerging models of conservation and education. Possible research projects include Buddhism and the environment; indigenous ecological knowledge; spiritual connections to nature; and community forests. Discover the power of inquiry to generate knowledge and inspire conservation. All students will have the chance to conduct an investigation of the local ecosystem, asking their own questions, collecting data, and presenting conclusions.

Prior to and following the field experience in Thailand, students will complete coursework via Dragonfly Workshops’ web-based learning community as they apply experiences to their home institutions.

Course Details
In-person travel dates:

June 19 - 28, 2023 

Students arrive at least one day before and depart on last day of course
On the Web: Pre-travel preparations prior to May 15, 2023
Summer course: May 16-August 11, 2023
Fall course: Late August- early December, 2023
Credits: Summer course: 5 graduate credits

Follow-on Fall course: 2 graduate credits

All Miami University credits can be applied to the GFP or AIP (or other programs if approved)
Costs: Summer course: $3,225* + your own airfare to Bangkok, Thailand + $500 additional transportation fee.

Fall course: $790
* $3225 calculated as = $395 per credit tuition X 5 graduate credits + $1075 program fee + $175 Miami global fee

Course Themes

  • Tropical ecology and conservation
  • Buddhist philosophy in education
  • Western and Eastern modes of understanding nature
  • Indigenous ecological knowledge
  • Buddhism and conservation activism
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Participatory education
  • Community-based conservation

A typical day is likely to include:

  • Visits to field conservation sites
  • Lectures
  • Student-led discussions of key course topics
  • Engagement with local communities
  • Open inquiries
  • Journal writing
Kara Urbanek on an Earth Expeditions trip to Thailand

Thailand

Thailand is especially renowned for its temples, its mouth-watering cuisine, its hospitality, and its astonishing biotic diversity. Known as Siam until 1939, the Kingdom of Thailand was never colonized by a European power. Thais are proud of their strong culture and their history. Buddhism influences all aspects of Thai life and is practiced by 95% of the population.

Dragonfly Workshops Web-Based Learning Community

Upon acceptance into the program, students will join instructors and classmates in Dragonfly Workshops’ collaborative web community to complete pre-trip assignments. After returning home, students will continue to work in their web-based community through early December to develop projects initiated in the field, discuss assignments, and exchange ideas. All students should expect to spend two to three hours a week contributing to their web-based learning community from their home or school computer. Navigating the web platform is easy–it’s designed for people with no prior computer experience. To learn more about this unique web experience, visit dragonflyworkshops.miamioh.edu.

Planned Sites

Google maps image of Thailand with three locations marked. A second image shows the marked locations zoomed in and labeled Wat Paa Sukato, Wat Paa Mahawan, and Khao Yai National ParkKhao Yai National Park

Located approximately 200 kilometers northeast of Bangkok, Khao Yai is Thailand’s oldest national park. The 2,100 square kilometer park encompasses a variety of vegetation zones including evergreen rainforest and mixed deciduous forest. Approximately 200 to 300 wild elephants share the park with tigers, gibbons, barking deer, civets, and sun bears. Khao Yai’s rich forests are home to a large population of hornbills including the great hornbill, one of the most conspicuous of the hornbill clan with its bright yellow “horn” or casque on top of its head. There are numerous hiking trails and several wildlife observation towers, including one near a natural salt lick that entices elephants, barking deer, and gaur into the open.

Various forest wats (temples)

Discuss Buddhist views on nature, ecology, and conservation with scientists, educators, and “ecology monks” active in conservation efforts in Thailand. The group will spend several days at Buddhist monasteries, where students will be instructed in meditation practice and participate in discussions on contemplative education.

Wat Paa Sukato

Wat Paa Sukato is a forest monastery in a remote village in northeast Thailand’s Chaiyaphum province. The monastery is an outstanding example of the interwoven strands of conservation, Buddhism, and community. The monks designated the forest surrounding their monastery as sacred, prohibiting logging and the killing of wild animals. They fostered a reverence for nature among the local community and recruited the villagers to help prevent forest fires. The monks also helped local children form an environmental education club called Dek Rak Nok (Children Love Birds) with the goal to protect the local bird population. Monks also lead an annual week-long “Green Walk” around the watershed forest to promote conservation awareness.

Wat Paa Mahawan

Wat Paa Mahawan is a forest monastery in the mountains of Chaiyaphum. Monks of Wat Paa Mahawan work with the local community to nurture and conserve the forests surrounding the temple. The forest is an important watershed area, and the community conservation efforts help ensure the health of vital river systems upon which the local people, the forests, and the wildlife depend. The monks have also begun a biodiversity monitoring program to collect data on forest recovery and cultural uses of wild species. The monks hope to use the data to create further conservation awareness in the local communities.

(Course locations are subject to change.)

2023 Costs Include:

In addition to covering the price for five graduate credits of Miami University tuition, field course costs cover all basic expenses, including:

  • Meals (incidental snacks and drinks not included)
  • Lodging
  • Field station fees
  • Course activities (optional activities are not included)
  • Ground transportation (van, boat, train, etc., as needed)
  • Park entrance and guide fees

Course costs do not cover personal expenses, such as airfare to the course, personal gifts, or ancillary costs, such as passport fees, country entry fees, required course readers, and any additional course texts.

Airfare: To estimate fares applicants may wish to visit an online fare finder or call a travel agent. Bear in mind that airlines have seasonal fluctuations in fares.

Miami University also requires all international workshop participants to purchase travel health insurance for about $40. (Successful applicants will receive more details in their web-based learning community course workshop.) In some classes an additional textbook is required. In some countries, you may have to pay entrance and departure taxes/fees at the airport.

Because of support from Miami University, the course costs listed above are a fraction of actual program costs. Earth Expeditions recommends that accepted applicants to the program check with their school district or employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs.

We offer some further ideas on Helping to Fund your Degree and Scholarships for Current Dragonfly Students

U.S. Students and Students Living Abroad

To support involvement by a broad range of professionals nationally and globally, Miami University discounts tuition for participants accepted to an Earth Expeditions graduate course. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and hold bachelor’s degrees. Upon successful completion of both the field and Web-based components of the Earth Expeditions course, participants earn seven graduate credit hours.

Students Seeking Undergraduate Credit

Undergraduate students at Miami University or elsewhere may apply for an Earth Expeditions course and earn five credits for the field component, with the option to complete two additional credits for the fall Web component. Normal Miami tuition rates apply, as do eligible summer tuition waivers and scholarships. Contact Project Dragonfly for more information.

Course Options for Miami Students

Are you a current Miami University undergrad or grad student interested in participating? Check out our Miami Students page to learn more about program requirements.

*Note that costs shown above are for graduate students only. Course costs for undergraduate students are based on each student’s tuition rate. If you have questions regarding your tuition promise rate, please contact the Bursar.

Questions?

Do you have questions? Go to our Frequently Asked Questions page for some answers.

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