Spend three weeks in northern Thailand exploring Southeast Asia’s challenges and efforts related to biodiversity conservation through in-class lectures, hands-on fieldwork, research studies, and service-learning projects with an NGO focusing on tree ecology and elephant conservation. Incorporating elements of conservation biology, biodiversity studies, sustainability science and more, the immersive course begins with a week in the charming town of Chiang Mai before moving to the rural mountain village of Pai for two weeks of fieldwork. In addition to the course content, you’ll work closely with the host NGO to conduct a tree ecology research project and elephant observational study all while learning more about sustainable living and conservation.


Live and study in two of Thailand’s most intriguing destinations: the cultural hub of Chiang Mai and beautiful rural village of Pai

Explore the crucial role of biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia through a multi-dimensional approach including on-the-ground research and service-learning activities

Feel the course material come to life with extensive fieldwork such as collecting plant ecology data in the forest

Get to know the country’s famous elephants, observing their behavior and supporting an NGO’s current conservation projects

Dive into northern Thailand’s welcoming culture and community, including a visit to one of the region’s leading centers for self-reliance and permaculture-based sustainable living

Combine this with another course from the other Summer in Thailand session for an extended summer experience



This course is offered during Session Two of TEAN’s Thailand Summer Program. Students can select to enroll in one session for a three-week program (4 credits) or two sessions for a six-week program (8 credits). See more details on the Summer in Thailand program here.

About the Course

ES 370T Environmental Conservation in Southeast Asia

This course examines trends in biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia, including an overview of grassroots efforts focusing on sustainable living in the region. Home to an estimated 30% of the world’s biodiversity and a number of unique natural environments – including the world’s largest archipelago, highest concentration of islands and longest coastline – Southeast Asia’s shifting economic situation has caused significant changes for the region’s demographics, agricultural practices and land-use, urbanization trends, biodiversity and social capital. These changes interact in complex ways and, together with the uncertainties associated with climate change, lead to far-reaching systemic consequences impacting livelihoods, social-ecological resilience and health.

Course themes include transdisciplinarity, system thinking and sustainability, ecosystem-based natural resources management, agriculture intensification and globalization, and links between biodiversity, health and disease. The course combines open discussions and lectures with field excursions to provide students with a holistic learning experience while studying in Thailand.

Contact us to request a syllabus for this course.

Service Learning

The course combines science-based biodiversity studies with community-oriented service where students will help with reforestation programs in various communities, such as schools, temples and reforestation sites in degraded forests.

The service activities are in direct relationship with the objectives of the course: understanding the relationships between people, biodiversity and the sustainability of conservation initiatives. The service-learning activities expose students to the reality of nature conservation in its cultural, political and socio-economic dimensions, complementing scientific investigations in a meaningful way.


Dr. Pierre Echaubard

Pierre Echaubard, PhD, is a health ecology researcher specializing in infectious diseases ecology and evolution, vector-borne diseases, adaptive management and the connections between biodiversity, health and wellbeing. A regular consultant for the WHO-TDR (a WHO special program on disease of poverty) and for numerous academic institutions and governmental organizations, he has been involved in environmental and public health projects examining how social-ecological factors influence vector-borne and parasitic diseases transmission, community resilience and more.

Dr. Echaubard regularly teaches courses in ecology and biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, public health and tropical medicine in addition to developing experiential education programs focusing on mindfulness-based practices and nature’s role in holistic health and wellness.


Upon completion of the course, you will be issued with an Elmhurst University academic transcript. The course is worth 4 U.S. credits. The course consists of 60 hours of class contact time over three weeks, including lectures and presentations, practical sessions, workshops and field trips.




The first week is mostly classroom-based with regular unscheduled time in the afternoons to explore Chiang Mai’s trendy cafes, cool boutiques, sizzling street food, affordable massages, tumbling waterfalls, colorful night markets and more.

Classes will focus on introducing key conceptual and methodological material during interactive lectures, guided workshops, suggested readings, discussions and class outings. Covering topics such as the role of biodiversity in Southeast Asia and how cultural components, societies and ecological features are all closely related when considering biodiversity conservation, the first week prepares students to then go out in the field.

Before traveling three hours north to Pai on Sunday afternoon, spend the weekend exploring Chiang Mai.


The first week’s conceptual and methodological foundations are followed by 11 days of hands-on, immersive sessions during field studies and service-learning projects hosted by a conservation NGO near the village of Pai. Though a sleepy mountain town, Pai is a popular destination with both Thai and international visitors thanks to its laid back vibe, yummy food (including plenty of Thai, Western and vegetarian options), cool bars, live music, surrounding river and rice fields, and nightly walking street market.

Here students will implement multi-day mini research projects to learn about field experimental designs, collection methods, data processing in relation to biodiversity sampling and assessment focusing on tree and elephant ecology.  Students join the NGO’s current activities, such as reforestation, community outreach, and reptile and elephant conservation, as service-learning which, will complement a tree ecology research project and elephant observational study coordinated by the course director.

Regular unstructured time will be provided for students to interact informally with local interns, staff and community members, as well as process and reflect. A field report, written as a technical note to inform good reforestation practice, will be produced by students and presented to our hosts toward the end of the field study program.


After the research and service-learning projects are completed, we’ll return to Chiang Mai and look at broader sustainability dimensions to provide a wider context to our field activities, as well as visit a leading center for self-reliance and permaculture-based sustainable living.



  • 2.5 GPA
  • Currently enrolled at an approved degree-granting institution of higher education.
  • This interdisciplinary course strongly touches on components of ecology, conservation biology, biodiversity studies, sustainability science and policy. Previous experience in the above-mentioned fields is an asset but not mandatory, however, students should hold the capacity to discuss and grasp concepts and navigate perspectives from across different disciplines.

Program Details

Summer 2021

This program not running for Summer 2021. Please check back for future available terms.


Be introduced to Chiang Mai upon arrival with an Orientation that combines useful informative sessions with intriguing introductory cultural experiences. Experience a sensory overload as you learn about Thai culture and society, jumpstart your knowledge of Thai Buddhism with a visit to one of Chiang Mai’s glittering gold temples, practice speaking key Thai phrases, and sample an array of deliciously diverse Thai cuisine. (All meals are included!)


In Chiang Mai students stay in twin-share accommodation with other TEAN students. The accommodation is fully furnished and located in a vibrant area, close to cafes, restaurants and street food.

In Pai, students stay in twin-share rooms in guesthouse style accommodation close to town.. Rooms are simple and clean with private bathrooms. Breakfast is provided daily. TEAN staff also stay on-site.


Our team works with you start to finish through the study abroad process. Our programs staff will help guide you through the application process to go abroad, then upon arrival in Southeast Asia, you will be met by our on-site staff who will provide assistance throughout your time in Thailand.

Meet the Team

Program Dates


TEAN has a rolling admissions process. Late applications may be considered. Contact TEAN if the application deadline has passed.

Program Capacity

This program accepts 15 students only. Early applications are advised as the program will close once capacity is reached. Students may be added to a waitlist.

Summer 2021 dates

This program not running for Summer 2021. Please check back for future available terms.

Application Deadline Apr 1
Arrival Day June 11
TEAN Orientation June 12
Thai Cooking Class June 13
Class Starts June 14
Last day of class July 2
Program Ends July 3

The Holistic Health and Wellness in Asia course offered during Session 1 of the Thailand Summer Program is designed to complement the Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development in SEA course. Both courses are taught by Dr. Pierre Echaubard.

Fees & Inclusions

Summer 2021

Estimated program fee: $3,490

Two Session Special

$500 off total cost of program
Must take a course in Session 1 and Session 2


  • Full tuition (4 credits from Elmhurst University)
  • Guaranteed pre-arranged housing
  • Overseas health insurance, plus evacuation and repatriation insurance
  • Orientation Program with meals, activities and transportation
  • WiFi access in housing
  • Airport transfers and all course-related ground transport
  • Cultural events, excursions and field trips throughout the program
  • Thai cooking class
  • Extensive pre-departure counseling and information
  • Readings for all courses (provided as PDFs to download)
  • Staff and resources available 24/7 to provide assistance and recommendations during emergencies


  • International airfares (approx $1,200 – 1,400)
  • Meals (approx $150-200)
  • Local transportation in Chiang Mai and Pai for personal outings (approx $20)
  • Travel insurance ($350)


TEAN Scholarships

Apply for TEAN scholarships – starting at $1,000 – for the chance to receive money specifically for studying abroad. Each year we award thousands of dollars in need- and merit-based scholarships, diversity scholarships, a full ride scholarship and more. Visit our scholarships page for details!

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