Discover the dynamic politics of mainland Southeast Asia – comprising Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – with discussions, workshops and visits to major international centers of policymaking, diplomacy, trade and civil society while spending three weeks over the summer in Thailand. Starting out in the charming northern town in Chiang Mai and ending with two weeks in Bangkok, one of the world’s great capital cities, this immersive entry-level course carefully combines in-class lectures with near-daily on-site excursions to look at how this dynamic region is becoming an increasingly important political player. Throughout it all, students also enjoy an included orientation and soaking up Thailand’s local color, culture and cuisine for a jam-packed summer program.


Learn about mainland Southeast Asia’s international politics through in-class lectures and extensive site visits to related organizations, such as Amnesty International and the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok

Live and study in both the northern Thai town of Chiang Mai and Thailand’s bustling capital of Bangkok

Get to know more about Thailand with an included Orientation and fun excursions throughout the program

Take advantage of the small program size (13 students maximum) for an inclusive experience taught by leading international politics professor based at Chiang Mai University

Benefit from access to TEAN’s Thailand Resident Coordinator and other in-country staff for continued support throughout the program

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

POL 370T International Politics of Southeast Asia

This course introduces students to the international politics of mainland Southeast Asia, which comprises the countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Hemmed in geographically by two major powers – China and India – this increasingly important region is characterized by its religious, cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as varied colonization periods, wars and socioeconomic developments. The course begins in Chiang Mai with an introduction to Southeast Asia and its fascinating history before moving to Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok. In the heart of it all, Bangkok is home to myriad government agencies, civil society organizations and intergovernmental institutions, including 18 U.N. agencies and the International Labour Organization’s regional headquarters. Through readings, discussions, site visits and hands-on experiences, students will learn about the major contemporary issues that define the region’s political landscape, including multilateral diplomacy in ASEAN countries, the politics of the environment, and migration and refugee-related challenges.

Contact us to request a syllabus for this course.


Students will:

  1. Gain a thorough understanding of major themes in international politics, how they intersect and how they produce cooperation and conflict
  2. Gain a thorough understanding of the historical context of contemporary international relations in mainland Southeast Asia
  3. Develop the ability to critically analyze and write about contemporary international relations in Southeast Asia, using knowledge gained from readings, lectures and site visits
  4. Learn about qualitative research and practice applying some of its key methods: participant observation and interviews
  5. Gain a thorough understanding of the different state and non-state actors involved in Southeast Asian politics and how their roles converge


Dr. Sally Beckenham

Sally Beckenham is a British Lecturer in International Relations and Environmental Politics at Chiang Mai University and an Affiliated Researcher at CMU’s Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development. Based in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past four years, she currently teaches undergraduate courses in Conflict and Diplomacy, Global Environmental Politics, Peace and Conflict and International Relations of Southeast Asia. Her post-doctoral research is situated broadly within international relations, particularly drawing on post-structural, postcolonial and interpretive constructivist approaches. Research interests include environmentalism and environmental governance, identity discourse and rights claiming in South and Southeast Asia.


Upon completion of the course, students will be issued with an Elmhurst University academic transcript. The course is worth 4 U.S. credits.

Elmhurst University, located in suburban Chicago, is accredited by the Department of Education of the State of Illinois, and by The Higher Learning Commission, A Member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.




The first week of the course is spent in the northern Thai town of Chiang Mai, a hub of culture, cuisine, community and academics. Here students will have classes combined with several excursions to nearby sites and organizations – such as MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum to see political statements expressed through art and EarthRights International NGO to learn about how major environmental issues foster conflict and cooperation in the region – sprinkled throughout the week.

Spend the weekend independently exploring Chiang Mai by checking out the city’s weekend night markets, indulging in a Thai massage or trying out more of the tasty Thai cuisine, before flying to Bangkok.


As Thailand’s capital, Bangkok is the economic and political hub of the country, not to mention a major player in the Southeast Asian region. One of the most-visited cities in the world, the sprawling metropolis is also a major traveler draw with a ton to discover both during classes and in students’ spare time.

While in Bangkok for two weeks, students will head out on daily excursions and site visits that complement the course lectures and readings. Starting out with a guided walking tour of Bangkok to learn about the city’s history as it developed from swampland into a global megapolis, students will also visit a number of organizations including the UN Southeast Asia headquarters of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,  Amnesty International, People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF) to discuss ASEAN’s role in human rights advocacy, DEAR Burma, a school for Burmese migrant workers living in Bangkok, and more.

Though the weeks will be packed with activities, there’s still plenty of time to explore the Big Mango in the evening and over the weekend. If you have questions about where to go or what to do, just ask the TEAN team for recommendations!



  • 2.5 GPA
  • Currently enrolled at an approved degree-granting institution of higher education.
  • This is an introductory international politics/relations class with no prerequisites. 

Program Details

Summer 2021

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

Summer in thailand program

This course is offered during Session Two of TEAN’s Thailand Summer Program. Students can select to enrol 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.


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 Bangkok, students will stay in 2 or 3-star accommodation close to public transport. 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 13 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

Fees & Inclusions

Summer 2021

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


  • 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
  • Flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
  • 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 Bangkok for personal outings (approx $50)
  • The course finishes in Bangkok. Students with an international flight departing from Chiang Mai will need to purchase a return flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (approx $50)
  • 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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