Program Overview

Political Ecology of Forests Course

This course explores the ethno-ecological relationship between humans and forests.

Most of the course will be conducted within villages in the extreme northwest corner of Thailand, nestled among mountains that have long since been the domain of Karen ethnic people. Tropical forest ecology, the Karen adaptation to this environment, and the conflicts over forest resource management form the thematic backbone of the course. By living, farming, interacting, and traveling through the forests with villagers, students will learn firsthand how the Karen livelihood is intertwined with their forest world.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the key concepts and issues in forest political ecology
  • Articulate and understand the cultural adaptations to upland forest ecosystems in Karen culture
  • Describe the ecological processes involved in long fallow rotational farming systems
  • Understand forest classification and management systems
  • Identify major forest species (tree and non-tree) as well as their cultural significance, if any
  • Be proficient in the tools of ecological and ethnographic field research
  • Demonstrate proficiency in field research, remote travel, and the tools of field research


    Block 3

    Course Title

    Political Ecology of Forests: People and Natural Resources (ANTH/ECO 310)


    4 Credits

    Academic Fields



    Extensive hiking while in the villages (to upland fields, etc)

    Backpacking and hiking may include multiple river crossing and rough terrain


    Upland Karen Villages (Mae Hong Son Province)

    Application Deadlines

    Semester Application Deadlines: Fall – March 15 / Spring – October 15

    Summer Application Deadline: April 1

    After the deadline we will accept students on a space available basis, so contact us at [email protected]

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