Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


The program’s thematic seminars provide students with a broad understanding of contemporary life in Samoan culture and of the physical and historical forces that have shaped the Pacific Islands region at large. The courses focus on culture and social change and examine some of the impacts of westernization and globalization on small island states. The Research Methods and Ethics course introduces culturally appropriate, ethical field research methodology, in preparation for the Independent Study Project (ISP). Language study opens a window into Samoan culture, aids in field projects, and allows students to engage more fully with their homestay families.

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.

Traditional Societies in Transition - syllabus (PDF)
(PACI 3010 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Traditional Societies in Transition course examines key aspects of traditional Pacific societies as well as the physical and historical forces that have shaped the Pacific Islands region at large. This course focuses on culture and the ways in which traditional societies have adapted to the waves of development and change that have reached their shores. The seminar has components in Hawai'i, Samoa, American Samoa, and Fiji.

Globalization and Contemporary Issues - syllabus (PDF)
(PACI 3020 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Globalization and Contemporary Issues course examines the social, economic, and political impacts of westernization and globalization on small island states, as well as social change in Pacific communities. Development and the future of Oceania are other areas of interest. Lectures and discussions are conducted in cooperation with the University of Hawai'i, the East-West Center, the National University of Samoa, and the University of the South Pacific in both Alafua, Samoa, and Suva, Fiji, with support from additional local professionals.

Intensive Language Study: Samoan - syllabus (PDF)
(SAMO 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The course emphasizes beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. It encourages daily communication with locals. The homestays in both Samoa and American Samoa and the visit to Savai'i provide additional language practice. Bilingual surveys are also a key feature of research conducted during the Independent Study Project.

Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
A course in the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. Introduces students to the Independent Study Project. Materials include cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. Students develop contacts and identify resources; develop skills in observation and interviewing; gather, organize, and communicate data; complete a mini Independent Study Project (ISP) and maintain a work journal.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Students conduct independent research in an approved location in Samoa appropriate to their project. Sample topic areas: climate change and vulnerability; women’s empowerment and challenges to political leadership; freedom of religion; the role of the church in social action; education and social change; understanding wealth, poverty, and hardship in light of Samoa’s entrenched giving behaviors.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Apia

Language Study: Samoan

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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