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Creative Collaborations: HIV and Sexual Health in Northern Thailand

**Course details are still being finalized. Dates, itinerary, and program fee are subject to change.**

Faculty: Megan J. Dobro, assistant professor of human biology (NS) 
Course Number: NS-239S
Location(s): Chiang Mai and Phrao, Thailand
Departure Date: May 23, 2015 Return Date: June 15, 2015 
Course Fee (tentative): $1,850 + airfare (see information about additional expenses and financial aid below)

Course Summary

Thailand’s history with the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been interesting. Early on, the government response was considered a progressive model for other countries, but stigma persists and the rates of infection are now rising. Last year we began the exploration into why this might be and how we can work with local organizations to reverse the trend. This year, we will pick up where we left off, meeting advocacy groups in Chiang Mai and developing educational workshops in rural northern villages. The response has been very positive so far, but motivated and ambitious students are needed to carry the work forward. The type of projects we work on will depend on the community needs at the time of our course and the individual interests of the participants.


HIV/AIDS: 30 Years Later (NS-0124-1) by M. Dobro or by instructor permission.


Short-term field course eligibility requirements.

Financial Information

Short-term Field Course Finances and FundingImportant information about fees, payments, and financial aid.

Course Fee

Approximately $1,850 includes course expenses, accommodations, meals, in-country transportation, as well as excursions and cultural activities for the duration of the program.

Additional Expenses (costs not included in the course fee)
Not included in the program fee are the following expenses: Airfare from U.S. to Chiang Mai (approximately $2,000), U.S. transportation to/from the airport, passport/visa fees, and personal expenses.

How to Apply

Short-term field course application deadlines and instructions.

Full Course Description

It has been 30 years since HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was first discovered. Each community has reacted to the epidemic in different ways. The government response in Thailand has been a model for other countries, and yet due to large stigma-related problems, conditions of poverty, gender dynamics, and commercial sex realities, HIV continues to be a problem that greatly impacts the lives of many Thai people. In collaboration with Warm Heart Worldwide, a nonprofit in rural Phrao, Thailand, we will be helping to design and implement HIV-related projects to serve the needs of the community and support local citizens with sustainable long-term solutions. Our focus will be on the building of support for HIV-affected individuals and exploring ways to help empower the local people to develop their own forms of agency for sustainable programs addressing HIV awareness and prevention. Students will tour research facilities in Chiang Mai, work with local groups in Phrao, and visit surrounding areas to meet people and learn about various subcultures. Students will engage in assessing the needs of the community and developing their own strategies for projects during this trip as well as future efforts. Potential projects to be developed include culture and context specific gender-focused HIV transmission awareness initiatives; sex education discussions and workshop educational strategy building; supporting family visitation programs with local NGOs; and management of treatment distribution. The trip will include an in-country orientation and language training in Chiang Mai.

One challenge to developing AIDS programming in rural Thailand is that data about HIV rates, death rates, and affected demographics are not readily available and are often mis-reported. In preparation for the course, a small group of students and faculty will be conducting research to answer these key questions throughout the school year to guide our project objectives.

Learning Goals


Academic Expectations

Prior to the trip departure, there will be mandatory orientation sessions and assigned preparatory readings. Students are expected to be fully engaged with the pre-departure workshops. During the visit, students will keep a journal to reflect upon their experience and brainstorm future projects. Full participation in every aspect of what the course explores in Thailand will be essential. Projects will only be implemented by the initiative of students, so it is important that students are motivated to work with each other toward sustainable outcomes. Each day during the visit, the group will convene to debrief the day and reflect on the day’s experiences. This will build group bonding and contribute toward peers being able to engage in evaluations with each other. Peer and self-evaluations will assist in formal course evaluations by the professor. A written report will be due at the end of the course to summarize the work that was done, reflect upon what was learned, and briefly map possible future projects. A collaborative presentation will also be given to Warm Heart at the end of the course. 

Travel Plans 

Students will meet at Chiang Mai airport on the evening of May 18, 2015. A van will transport the group to our accommodations. 

Program Itinerary

May 17: Depart U.S. for Chiang Mai
May 18-25: Arrive in Chiang Mai on May 18; One week in Chiang Mai. Meeting with local HIV advocates, touring research facilities, planning projects
May 26-June 8: Two weeks in Phrao. Developing and implementing projects and supporting local efforts
June 9: Group transport to Chiang Mai airport for departure

Housing Arrangements

In Chiang Mai, we will stay at the Mountain View Guesthouse hotel. In Phrao, we will stay in apartment-style housing. 

Predeparture Preparation

Students will be required to participate in workshops and training sessions throughout the spring semester to begin building the skills necessary for this kind of course. It is highly recommended that students take the spring 2015 course Megan is offering, entitled HIV/AIDS: 30 Years Later. We will work with the HIV/AIDS Student Group on campus to provide events throughout the year to encourage community and education around related issues. A representative from GEO will also provide information and resources related to health, safety and travel to the group.


Questions about the application process or financial aid should be directed to Heather St. Germaine in the global education office at or x5542.

Questions regarding the academic content or itinerary should be directed to Megan Dobro,


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