Cancelled Borderland: Critical Approaches to Field Research in the Global South (Summer school 2020)

Course content

Jointly developed and offered by UC-Berkeley and University of Copenhagen.


This course is designed to provide students with 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 projects. 

Centering on the themes of Land and Water, 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 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 program development, and/or advocacy. Drawing upon insights from these different forms of field engagement, they will reflect on the research implications, and develop a succinct research proposal. 


Short video from the course, Summer 2018:


Student experiences from the course, Summer 2018:



The summer school course 2020 has been cancelled.



Learning outcome
  • For students to have a deeper understanding and insights of the issues facing the Global South and the world in the 21st Century.
  • For students to be able to raise and address critical questions in their own research.
  • For students to engage with local NGOs and ongoing research projects, and integrate their knowledge/insights into their own research process.
  • For students to have a critical foundation from which they can apply the knowledge and practices from the course to future projects.
  • For students to be able to apply their knowledge and understanding to the development of a research proposal.

Lectures, seminar style discussion and reflection, and field research.

The course is divided into four phases:
1. Pre-departure preparation: reading, online research on topics and contexts.
2. Framing the course: in class lectures, discussions, group work, field trips and preparation for entering the field.
3. Field placements: with NGOs or research projects – including evening sessions.
4. Writing, supervision and public presentation.

All activities in the course revolve around the themes of Land and Water, and are designed to complement each other and reinforce learning and meaningful engagement with the curriculum. The readings, lectures, and exercises are aimed at providing the necessary contexts for student field engagement while the work conducted with NGOs and research projects are meant to give students “real-world” experience that informs critical research.

The field course will be based in Chiang Mai (in partnership with Chiang Mai University) and in surrounding areas.

In addition, one group excursion is planned, and depending on the organizations or research projects to which the students are assigned, they may have an opportunity to visit projects within and outside of Chiang Mai as part of their research.

The program schedule may be subject to change since this is a field course and we need to build in some flexibility in order to be able to accommodate local circumstances and exigencies if necessary.

Course literature will be avaible via the course platform 'Absalon' in beginning of June.

The course is open to students from all fields and disciplines. Priority is given to students with interests in global development and the Global South, which can be approached from many different disciplinary angles. It is an advantage if the students have taken a field and/or methods course prior to enrolling in this field course.

Proficient English skills (written and oral) are a must.

This course is open for Postgraduate (Master level) students and advanced bachelor (undergraduate) students.

Students will have to pay for the following:

• Flight ticket: to and from Chiang Mai
• Accommodation, including any deposits: 6,300 THB for a full month in double occupancy, not including breakfast (app. 1,300 DKK or 200 USD)
• Living expenses: app. 400 THB/day (app. 75 DKK /13 USD)
• Visa: please contact your home Embassy for visa fees for Thailand, and make sure to apply for the correct visa including NGO placement.
• Insurance: valid for the entire course period in Thailand
• Local transport

The students will be staying in twin rooms at UNISERV CMU:

The price per student is app. 6,300 THB (app. 1,300 DKK or 200 USD) for a full month in double occupancy including cleaning once a week and free wi-fi, but not including breakfast.

Students will be able to check in from June 26
Students can stay until July 26

Students must be ready for course start in Chiang Mai on June 29 at 9 am.

Required insurance and VISA:
All students accepted into the course must have a valid health and travel insurance covering travel in Thailand as well as a valid visa prior to departure.

For Visa please contact your home Embassy for visa requirements for Thailand.

For UCPH students: pre-approval is required from home department and must be forwarded no later than 20 March 2020.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, .
Course participation, .
Assessment will be based on a) active participation in the course including group work b) active engagement with the NGO and c) submission of a well-developed research project proposal.

The research proposal must be 3 to 5 pages (2400 key strokes pr. page)
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 32
  • E-Learning
  • 72
  • Field Work
  • 88
  • Preparation
  • 24
  • English
  • 216