Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development


Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

The Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development program explores Vietnam's history and cultural heritage while closely examining the country's more recent economic, social, and environmental transformations. Drawing upon SIT's extensive in-country networks, students gain exposure to the perspectives of both Vietnamese and international scholars and learn from academic, professional, and community experts. Students gain experience conducting field observations and interviews, and learn to analyze primary sources as well as secondary literature. During both classroom and field components, students are encouraged to take initiative in and responsibility for their own learning, reflect on and debate key issues, and integrate hands-on learning with an understanding of theoretical approaches. Study of the Vietnamese language provides a deeper connection with the culture and facilitates interaction with homestay families and local experts during fieldwork.

The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming session. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Economic Reform and Development - syllabus (PDF)
(ASIA 3020 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The course examines Vietnam’s development agenda and ethics and equity issues within the context of the country’s growing market economy and consumer class. Rapid economic development has come with sociopolitical changes and environmental costs. Students examine in detail the major turning point in Vietnam’s development, the Doi Moi “Renovation” economic reforms launched in 1986, and the rapid growth in trade and investment since that time. Excursions to both rural and urban areas in Vietnam, including the Mekong Delta, Central Vietnam, Hanoi, and Sapa, provide students with a variety of unique environments in which they can investigate the nuances of development.

Ethnicity, Gender, and Social Change - syllabus (PDF)
(ASIA 3010 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course explores the repercussions of the processes of social change in Vietnam with a special focus on specific groups such as women and ethnic minorities. Students are asked to analyze gender relations and ethnic minority perspectives from a comparative standpoint, in relation to both regional and global social and political change. Students look at the governance of ethnic minority affairs, the development problems faced by minority peoples, and the challenge of maintaining Vietnamese peoples’ diverse traditions throughout the process of nation-building. The course enables students to identify agents of change and their role in shaping sustainable social change.

Intensive Language Study: Beginning Vietnamese - syllabus (PDF)
(VIET 1000–1500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Intermediate Vietnamese - syllabus (PDF)
(VIET 2000–2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Advanced Vietnamese - syllabus (PDF)
(VIET 3000–3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes.

Field Methods and Ethics - syllabus (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The course provides an introduction to the Independent Study Project and provides the foundational skills for conducting research in Vietnam. Topics include cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; identifying appropriate research methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a work journal.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Ho Chi Minh City or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: the role of women in Vietnamese society; the impact of migration on urban life; colonial architecture; heritage site management and conservation; craft villages in transition; microcredit projects; poverty reduction and hunger eradication; Vietnamese culture viewed through the media, literature, or popular music; memory of the French and American wars; fortune tellers, magic, and mysticism in a modern socialist society.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Ho Chi Minh City

Language Study: Vietnamese

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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