Thinking Global & Acting Local in Chiang Mai, Thailand: A Semester with the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2021


Erika completed her Environmental Fellows Program practicum as a student with the International Development Studies Institute (ISDSI) in Chiang Mai, where she spent four months studying the relationship between Thai history, culture, society and the northern region’s unique local ecology. Courses involved the study of sustainable food ways, political ecology of forest ecosystems, and marine biodiversity.

Erika embarked on hiking and backpacking expeditions with her cohort; learned and applied key ecological field skills; presented on socioeconomically significant local plant and animal species; and expanded her understanding of Thai language and culture firsthand through relationships with Thai instructors, friends, and host families. One of the most valuable experiences of Erika's time in Thailand was getting to design and conduct three of her own month-long ethnographic research projects, one of which will be discussed in greater detail in "Block 2: Sustainable Food Systems."


Thank you to Professor Jen Everett for mentoring me through the creation of this StoryMap; Assistant Director of the Environmental Fellows Program Amber Hecko for practicum guidance; Mandy Brookins, Director of Off Campus Programs, for supporting and advising me through the application and confirmation process; Ajaan Ning, my Thai language instructor, for equipping me well to converse and bond with my host families outside of the city; Mark Ritchie, Executive Director of ISDSI, and the many instructors, field guides, and staff members — Jonas, Caroline Clark, Pi A, Pi Teem, Ajaan Wanli, Ajaan Mui, Ajaan Neil, Ajaan Yai, Pi Narong, Pi Marina, Ajaan Neung, and everyone in between — for making this program the invaluable learning experience that it is!