Students in this program learn about the complexity of Cambodia’s struggle to balance biodiversity conservation and development by studying the interface between livelihoods and the environment, assessing biodiversity and ecology, and exploring ethical issues around natural resource use and environmental governance.
The program has a particular emphasis on qualitative field research methods. Students meet and interview a wide variety of villagers and the members of various local and international conservation and development programs.
In addition, students explore a variety of regional development and conservation challenges and community-based solutions during travel across rural and urban Cambodia and Vietnam. Students visit key sites along the Mekong River, explore the biodiverse forests of Mondulkiri, gain appreciation for Cambodia’s recent history in Phnom Penh, and discover coastal ecosystems in Kampot prior to heading to Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.
Coursework is taught in English
One semester of college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science; 18 years of age
Students attending this program will be based at the SFS Center for Conservation and Development Studies in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Click here to find out more about the Center and life at the field station.
Week 1: Introductions, orientation, classes begin; field trip to Angkor World Heritage Site
Week 2: Classes and field lectures; field trips to Angkor WHS, Siem Reap Royal Palace, Tonlé Sap Biosphere Reserve (homestay and water bird monitoring)
Week 3: Classes and field lectures, community engagement; field trips to Phnom Kulen National Park, Anlong Pi waste management site, Jrei village
Week 4: Start the North expedition including BeTreed ecotourism site and Kratie (Irrawaddy dolphins and Mekong development)
Week 5: Continue the North expedition to Mondulkiri (Asian Elephant conservation and indigenous peoples) and Phnom Penh (Cambodian history)
Week 6: Classes and field lectures; field trip to Banteay Srei wetlands
Week 7: Community engagement; exams; field trip to Knar Pou Community Forest
Week 9: Field trip to urban bat colonies; start South expedition to Kampot (Coastal ecosystems and development pressures)
Week 8: Continue South expedition to Vietnam (food security, agriculture and climate change in the Mekong Delta)
Week 10: Classes and exams
Week 11: Directed Research classes and field preparation
Week 12: Data collection
Week 13: Data analysis and report writing
Week 14: Directed Research presentations and closing activities
Itinerary subject to change.
A Note about Program Costs
Includes all pre-program advising services, room and board at the field station and on excursions, park entrance and research fees, program-related transportation, emergency evacuation insurance, and official transcript processing.
Does not include international airfare, international medical insurance, medical costs, and personal non-program related expenses.
SFS 2080 Language and Culture of Cambodia (2 credits)
This course contains two distinct but related modules: society and culture of Cambodia, and Khmer language. This course provides a basic introduction to spoken and written Khmer as well as the history and culture of Southeast Asia. The Khmer language module offers listening, oral, and limited written practice of the Khmer language at a beginner/basic level of proficiency to increase students’ communication and comprehension skills. The sociocultural model helps students develop a more refined understanding of Cambodian and Vietnamese cultures while learning about the rich history of the region. Both modules are designed to help students immerse into regional culture and work more effectively in their Directed Research efforts.
SFS 3800 Conservation Science and Practice - Cambodia (4 credits)
This course introduces the concepts, tools, and incentives to effect conservation of the environment and natural resources. The field of conservation is focused on protecting biological diversity—including ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity—by promoting processes, both ecological and social, that support biodiversity. The course focuses on five core themes: what biodiversity is; why biodiversity is important; threats to biodiversity; strategies for conservation; and the concept of sustainability. We explore the practical aspects of conservation using local case studies, considering the array of conservation strategies in the region, and using this lens to evaluate global concerns on a local scale.
This course focuses on the human landscape that envelops the natural ecosystems of the Lower Mekong Basin. We examine the intersection of natural and physical systems with the livelihood strategies employed by fishers, farmers, and merchants in the Mekong Basin. Students investigate the high levels of dependence upon natural resources by local populations and the critical threats to the ecology of the region. Students discover the primary drivers of change in local livelihood strategies and analyze attempts by international and national actors to find a sustainable balance between human needs and preserving biodiversity.
SFS 3820 Environmental Ethics and Development - Cambodia (4 credits)
This course takes a pragmatic approach to environmental ethics, looking, through a variety of thematic scenarios, at how decisions relating to the environment can be made through an applied ethical lens. Following an introduction to the foundations of environmental ethics and the cultural context of Cambodia, we explore ethical problems that are pertinent to environmental studies. In particular, students in this course examine contemporary environmental dilemmas and topics as they affect Cambodia and Vietnam and the rapid development of these countries. Students study environmental ethics in relation to economic growth and development, and consider the purpose of nature and humans’ role in managing it while still encouraging responsible development.
This course prepares students to distinguish hidden assumptions in scientific approaches and separate fact from interpretation, cause from correlation, and advocacy from objectivity. Students learn specific tools including: experimental design; field techniques; basic descriptive statistics; and parametric and non-parametric quantitative analysis. Emphasis is placed on succinct scientific writing, graphic and tabular presentation of results, and effective delivery of oral presentations.