Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


The program’s thematic seminars provide the student 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)
Emphasis on beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. The Samoan language course emphasizes daily communication, with further language practice available during homestays in both Samoa and American Samoa. 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. Introduction 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; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; a mini-Independent Study Project (ISP); and maintaining a work journal.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in an approved location in Samoa appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: sustainable agricultural practices and their impact on local villages; social analysis of youth culture; microfinance and the importance of social networks; the reality of poverty and hardship in Samoa; perspectives on religious freedom; human rights in Samoa; the role of coconut products in the Samoan economy; indigenous business development; reevaluation of brain drain from the Samoan perspective of service to family.

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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