Global Transformations Borderlands field course
This summer, we welcome the return of the IARU Global Transformations group fieldwork course, Borderlands. After a hiatus of three years (due to the impact on travel from the pandemic), the Global Transformations group will once again host the course, combining classroom learning, field engagement and immersion in a local environment. The course culminates with a short term placement with local NGOs or ongoing research projects in and around Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, an immensely valuable experience for the attending students.
Migration, mobilities and immobilities
Open to undergraduates and Master’s students, the Borderlands course is designed to provide an opportunity to think critically about the research process, epistemologies, and ethics in the conduct of research.
It focuses on the research process rather than the mastery of a specific topic or method, with the aim of providing students with the tools to raise and address critical questions in their own research and establish a foundation from which they can apply the knowledge and practices from the course to future research projects.
With the focus on the research process, the course is organised around the themes of Migration, Mobilities and Immobilities that have emerged as among the most pressing 21st century challenges, cutting across 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. In engaging migration, mobilities and immobilities, the Borderlands course explores the different forms and facets of migration (internal, cross-border; regular and irregular), and of im/mobilities – e.g. social, political, economic), as well as intersectionalities among causes and consequences of migration and im/mobilities.
In exploring these themes, the course combines classroom learning with meaningful interactions and placement with local NGOs or ongoing research projects in and around Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Through this placement, students will have the opportunity to engage in critical research, issues and policies related to the themes of the course, as well as communities and institutions impacted by and working on addressing these issues through research, policy formulation, community development or advocacy.
Course structure and format
The course contains the following elements: pre-departure research and preparation; in-class lectures and discussion; field placement; independent and supervised research writing; and public presentation.
All activities in the course revolve around the themes of Migration, Mobilities and Immobilities and are designed to complement each other and reinforce learning and meaningful engagement with the curriculum. The readings, lectures, and experiential activities are aimed at providing the necessary contexts for student field engagement and for the development of the research proposal, while the work conducted with NGOs and the research projects are meant to give students ‘real-world’ experience that informs critical research. Drawing upon insights from these different forms of field engagement, students will reflect on the research implications, and develop a succinct research proposal (based on their work for the NGO or ongoing research project or on a completely different topic of their choice that is related to the themes of the course).