These are the courses that are being offered at Go ED. Mekong. Click on the course title to download that course's full syllabus.

Course #1 - INCL 314 (66KB): Exclusion & Exploitation: Marginal People of the Mekong
This course examines the exclusion and exploitation of people in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Topics to be covered include: Identifying the various groups of people who are marginalized in the GMS and the basis of their exclusion (including race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, gender, religion, economic status, and other factors); describing the types of injustice faced (including poverty, human rights violations, discrimination, prejudice, genocide, persecution, labor exploitation, trafficking, prostitution, forced migration of IDPs, refugees and economic refugees); examining the history, context and causes of exclusion and exploitation; and analyzing indigenous, governmental, NGO, and faith-based responses. (3 credits)

Course #2 - SOC 381 (63KB): Social Context for Community Development
This course provides an introduction to the historical and social context of the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia and explores the dynamics between religious, political, and other social foundations and contemporary forces of change. The course begins with a survey of the major religions in the region (chiefly Buddhism and tribal Animism), and their enduring influence on worldview and culture.

The course proceeds with a survey of regional history from ancient times (including the La Na kingdom, of particular significance to Chiang Mai’s heritage) through nation building and international relations to the emergence of globalization. Students will be guided to explore the influence of intangible factors on tangible institutions and historical events. The course includes several excursions to nearby sites and guest lectures so as to contextualize the fundamental knowledge gained against an experiential sense of place and perspective. (3 credits)

Course #3 - INCL 256 (70KB): History, Religion and Society in the Mekong Region
This course is an introduction to development practice and development theory. Students will acquire knowledge of and the ability to apply a variety of development strategies and methods. During the field component of the course students will be exposed to programming and sites where they will be able to apply the content material for assessing and recommending program alterations within the context of specific communities.

Students will become acquainted with the Millennial Development Goals and their relevance to the situations in South East Asia. Students will be exposed to a variety of strategies designed to involve members of the community in the process of development. Strategies for funding community development projects locally and internationally are also explored. (3 credits)

Course #4 - INCL 255 (61KB): Thai Cultural Arts
Mekong PaintingThis course explores the Thai arts as both cultural expression and cultural epistemology (a way of engaging and knowing the world that differs from Western empiricism and consumerism). It provides hands on experience of the ways in which the arts can serve as agent of preservation as well as agent of transformation in culture. It seeks to guide students in the exploration of the spiritual, philosophical, social, and psychological drivers of the cultural arts in order to gain a deeper appreciation of diversity and human creativity.

Students will be introduced to a broad array of artistic expression and media in Thailand under the guidance of local experts and artistes (including visual arts, music, hand crafts, culinary arts, dance, Likay, and other performing arts). Students will come to appreciate the unique role and effectiveness of the arts in culture (e.g. prophetic confrontation of injustice in the status quo, or communicating in ways that overcome linguistic barriers, etc.) while gaining a new perspective of its true value in enriching and enhancing lives and work. The course has high emphasis on participation and reflection. (3 credits)

Practicum - 319 (121KB): Cross-Cultural Field Practicum
This course is designed to give students hands on cross-cultural experience with community development work in the field. Students will be exposed to international development and relief programs, have the opportunity to work in cross-cultural work environments, and to contribute meaningfully to their assigned program. Students will begin to assess their own ability to live and work in cross-cultural settings as well as be introduced to the challenges faced in the millennial development goals. Potentially available in various Southeast Asian countries. (3+ credits)



Mekong Hill TribePracticum subjects and experiences can vary significantly from location to location. Students may be placed with organizations operating in or near both Chiang Mai and the city of Chiang Rai, approximately three hours north of Chiang Mai. Students with urban placements will live in conditions similar to the Go ED. guesthouse. Those studying in rural areas will live in very basic accommodations (pit latrines, no running water, no internet access, hand washing clothing, etc.).

Go ED. Mekong began in Fall 2009, and practicum projects revolve around the core themes of exclusion and exploitation, religion, history and cultural arts, all framed within the context of community and transformational development.

New practicum opportunities include a possible placement with the Transformational Initiatives research project in community resilience among the Lahu hilltribe people.


Community Life

Chiang Mai is a large, modern city with many eclectic cultural and social activities. Go ED. believes that embedding students in cross-cultural environments is only part of the experience; students should engage with those cultures as often and as much as they possibly can. Some of these activities can include:

• Exploring Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
• Visiting local coffee shops
• Spending time in instructor’s homes
• Day trips to tourist/adventure activities
• Enjoying home cooked meals
• Community movie nights
• Shopping or eating at the Chiang Mai night market
• Visiting the elephant camp outside of Chiang Mai
• Camping or hiking in nearby national forests
• Visiting handicraft factories
• Attending Music, dance and other cultural arts performances
• Worshipping with local believers at Thai churches

Go ED. students will be housed at the Bi-Vocational Training Center (BVTC) – a peaceful campus for Lahu (a northern hill tribe) students set in a semi-rural community north of Chiang Mai. The facility is surrounded by mountains and nearby rice and pepper fields with access to public transportation conveniently located a short walk from the school. It includes two single-storey dorms, an open sided cafeteria, a four-storey administration/classroom/ library/dorm building, a faculty-housing complex, and a chapel. The campus commons are used for volleyball, “ta graw”, Frisbee and other sports.

The BVTC strives to preserve traditional Lahu culture and language as well as prepare the young adults by expanding their biblical knowledge, deepening their faith and obedience to Jesus Christ, and increasing the skills and understanding needed for serving the Lord in their homes, churches, communities, and the world. Living at the BVTC presents an excellent opportunity for Go ED. students to immerse themselves in Lahu culture and learn more about the lives and customs of these fascinating people.

Meals will include a mix of both regional and Western cuisine. Outdoors, an expansive grassy area and surrounding gardens create a peaceful atmosphere while at the same time providing space for light athletic activities. 

A washing machine is available for personal laundry items, although students are asked to supply their own laundry detergent (readily available in local markets). Travel to and from classes and field trips will be via public transportation. Students can also use municipal transit bus lines and taxis for private activities and shopping. Wireless Internet access is available at the guesthouse, and at Internet cafes within the city, although most charge a fee ($1 to $2/hour) for Internet use.



Historically, Chiang Mai was the hub of the La Na kingdom, a dynasty going back to the 1200s. The local peoples are very proud of their northern roots, and the region is home to distinctly different food, music, arts, way of life and even language. Chiang Mai can be thought of as a melting pot of hill tribes and their own unique cultures. These include the Lahu, Tai Yai, Akha, Karen, Hmong, Tai Lue, Lisu and Yao tribes.

Some La Na structures still survive to this day, particularly at the protective fortification and moat surrounding the very center of the city. Chiang Mai also serves as an important market hub for the entire Mekong region. Shopping, performing arts events, historical museums, handicraft workshops, movie theaters and coffee shops are all available in central Chiang Mai. Go ED. Mekong also maintains a relationship with our host college, Payap University, which may also provide students with additional venues for activities, cultural learning opportunities, and engagement with other students from the region.


Students spend 16 weeks in the Greater Mekong Subregion in the highlands of northern Thailand to study the root causes of exclusion and exploitation of marginalized people groups. Study in the heart of continental Southeast Asia helps students gain perspective about the complexities of the issues, state and NGO responses, and efforts towards greater empowerment and justice in these communities. Opportunities to interact with local communities, particularly those of the hill tribes, enhance understanding of the relationship between exploitation and its root causes: poverty, discrimination, exclusion and violence.

The traditional migratory people groups inhabiting the remote border areas between Northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (referred to as “the hill tribes”), represent a significant population of marginalized communities that suffer from discrimination, unsafe migration, trafficking, labor exploitation, denial of health care, sexual exploitation, and gender-based violence. All of these factors result in health, social, and economic consequences that are devastating for individuals and their communities. Freedom from abuse and exploitation depends on the promotion of human rights and the mitigation of violations.

Classroom discussions, readings, and lectures focus on contextual issues of development, history and religion, exploitation in the Greater Mekong Subregion, and Thai cultural arts.

Excursions to carefully selected sites and field-based practicum placements in relief and development complement studies.


Semester Schedule
Week 2-5Week 6-9Week 11-15
Exclusion & ExploitationPracticum       History, Religion & Society in the Mekong
Social Context for Community DevlpmentThai Cultural Arts