AANA18107U Borderland: Critical Approaches to Field Research and Engagement in the Global South (Summer 2024)

Volume 2023/2024

Summer school course 2024.



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. The aim is to provide students with the tools to raise and address critical questions in their own research, and to establish a foundation from which they can apply the knowledge and practices from the course to future engagement with the Global South, be it through research, policy, advocacy, or other pursuits.

As such, the course is focused on the research process rather than the mastery of a specific topic, method, or region.  Showcasing different approaches, issues, and regional contexts, the course is organized around the themes of Migration, Mobilities and Immobilities that have emerged as among the most pressing 21st century challenges, cutting across 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, we are interested in the different forms and facets of movement (internal, cross-border; regular, and irregular) and of im/mobilities (social, political, economic). We are particularly attentive to intersectional and cross-cutting issues.

In exploring these themes, the course combines classroom learning with meaningful interactions and placement with local NGOs and ongoing research projects in and around Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Through their field engagement, students will be introduced to critical research methods, issues, and policies related to the themes of the course. They will also have an opportunity to interact with impacted communities as well as with groups and organizations that are actively working on related issues through research, policies, community-centered initiatives, and advocacy. 

Learning Outcome

We envision that through lectures, meaningful engagement with issues, communities, institutions, and collaborative and experiential learning, students will


  • Gain valuable experience and insights working on a project that is of critical importance, be it through an NGO, a research or policy project.
  • Gain a deeper appreciation of the challenges facing researchers, communities, and activists working on critical issues.
  • Contribute in meaningful ways to the work of hosting organizations where they are placed.
  • Have an opportunity to reflect on research implications and draft a short but well-thought through research proposal based on their field engagement or a topic related to the course that could be expanded into a longer proposal for future engagement with the Global South, be it through research, policy, advocacy, or other pursuits.

All readings are in pdfs and can be accessed via the online course platform Absalon around two weeks before course start. 

Students are expected to have completed the assigned readings as scheduled, and prior to attending the seminars. The readings provide important contexts for the lectures but are also important to other components of the curriculum. We have kept the reading list very manageable so that students can dedicate sufficient time to their projects and field engagement. 



This course is open to advanced bachelor (undergraduate) students and postgraduate (Master level) students.

The course is open to students enrolled at one of following universities within the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU):

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 – and/or - the specific themes of this year’s programme, 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.
Lectures, seminar style discussions and reflections, and field engagement.

The course is divided into the following components:
• Pre-departure research and preparation (one week at home university)
• In-class lectures and discussions (one week at Chiang Mai University)
• Field placement (two weeks in and around Chiang Mai)
• Independent and supervised research writing (one week in Chiang Mai)
• Public presentation (in Chiang Mai)
• Draft and submission of short research proposal

All activities in the course revolve around the themes of Migration, Mobilities and Immobilities, and are designed to complement each other and reinforce learning and meaningful engagement with the curriculum. The readings, lectures, and experiential activities are aimed at providing the necessary contexts for student field engagement and for the development of the research proposal, while work conducted with NGOs and research programs in Chiang Mai is meant to give students the “real-world” experience that informs critical research. Drawing upon insights from these different forms of field engagement, students will reflect on the research implications, and develop a succinct research proposal (based on their work with the NGO or on a completely different topic of their choice but that is related the themes of the course).
The program schedule may be subject to change since this is a field course and we need to build in flexibility in order to be able to accommodate local circumstances and exigencies as needed.
Students will have to pay for the following:

• Flight ticket: to and from Chiang Mai.
• Accommodation: a full month in double occupancy – shared with a peer student from the course. The rooms will be appointed by the course responsible. Including full breakfast, Wi-Fi and cleaning twice a week. The price is 15,000 THB (app. 2,900 DKK or 415 USD) that will be collected in cash upon arrival by staff from University of Chiang Mai.
• Living expenses: expect app. 500 THB/day (app. 100 DKK /15 USD).
• Visa: valid for the entire course period in Thailand. For most nationalities a tourist visa is sufficient, but please contact your home Embassy for type and visa fees for Thailand.
• Insurance: valid for the entire course period in Thailand.
• Local transport

Tuition fees and options for stipends – please see under 'Sign up'
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 24
  • E-Learning
  • 72
  • Field Work
  • 88
  • Exam
  • 32
  • Total
  • 216
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Course participation
Type of assessment details
In keeping with University of Copenhagen’s grading system, the final assessment is based on a scale of 7. For some students, this numerical grade will be translated into a letter grade as required by their institutions. The final grade will be based on the following matrix:
• Active participation 20 %
• Performance during field placement and public presentation 40 %
• Final Research Proposal (3-5 pages) 40 %

The research proposal must be 3-5 pages (2400 keystrokes pr. page)
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Deadline for submission of the exam paper is Friday August 9 2024 (all day local time). Exam papers received after this date will not be assessed and graded. 


To be announced

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcomes.