Soc 250 Thai Culture and Society

Taught by Michael R. Leming, Ph. D.

4 Semester Credits
Course Description:

This course will provide a survey of Anthropological and sociological issues related to Thai Society and Culture. The course will provide an analysis of current Thai social institutions against the backdrop of traditional Thai culture. Topics include Thai Buddhism, family organization, political and economic structures, and educational practices. Field trips and participatory experiences will supplement lectures. There will also be many guest lectures by Thai and foreigner professors living in Thailand.
Academic Requirements:

1. Each class period will be 120 minutes in length and students will meet four times per week. Classes will consist of lectures (by Professor Leming and Thai and foreign professors), discussions, films, and field trips. The course will attempt to balance lectures, readings, and the experiences of American students living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We will strongly encourage the integration of experiential education within the classroom whenever possible. We believe that the Thai Culture and Society course is an ideal course to achieve this goal of integration. Thus lectures, discussions of issues encountered in home stay, field trips, "just living in Thailand", and informal discussions with Thai and foreign professors would all be considered to be part of the Thai Society and Culture course. Consequently, we will have 40 hours of "seat time (lectures, discussions, films, and exams) as well as many field trips and experiential education in Thailand.

2. Students will be expected to read texts, monographs, and articles related to the course of instruction. In addition to normal assessment (test taking), they are also expected to have writing assignments (i.e., term papers, reaction papers, etc.) which become part of their evaluation. Michael Leming will grade all papers and facilitate student reflection upon the relationship between experiential and classroom learning.

3. In addition the topics below, students would be expected to read a minimum of six books (e.g., Inside Thai Society, What the Buddha Taught, Family Life in Northern Thai Village, Culture Shock Thailand, Thailand a Short History, Many Lives, Siam Mapped, A Window on Thai History, and The Lan Na Twelve-Month Traditions, etc.) and write a ten-page ethnographic account of their home stay.

4. The topics listed below on the course outline should not be thought of as rigid schedule (substitutions and additions can and will be made), but in general the bulk of these topics will be addressed in the context of the course. Students will be encouraged to integrate formal and experiential learning

Evaluation and Grading:

Grades will be based upon the following:
First Exam (covering reading, lectures and experiential learning) 30 Percent

Family Paper 40 Percent 40 Percent

Final Exam (covering reading, lectures and experiential learning) 30 Percent

Thai Culture and Society
Course Outline

Class 1

INTRODUCTION TO THAI SOCIETY AND CULTURE: Geography, Demography, & Cultural Influences from Others
Class 2

Historical Background to Kingdoms & Tribal Societies Related Field Trips: Sukothai and Bangkok
Class 3

THAI RELIGION: Village and Tribal Religions-Animism, Role of Shaman, & Folk Buddhism Related Field Trips: Village Stay and April Karen Village Stay
Class 4

Philosophical Buddhism: Teaching of the Buddha and the Precepts of Buddhism --Wat Pra Singh
Class 5

Symbolic Importance of the Buddha (cult of relics and sacred land or territories) --Wat Chedi Luang
Class 6

The Sangha, the Sangha and the State, Women and Thai Buddhism (Nuns), and the Sangha and the Thai People-Wat Suan Dok
Class 7

Buddhist Rituals (Calendrical, Noncalendrical and Special Rituals) and the Popular Practice of Buddhism--Wat Chet Yod
Class 8

Social Movements and Issues within Contemporary Buddhism--(Wat Umong) Related Field Trip: Wat Stay
Class 9

Class 10

FAMILIAL INSTITUTIONS: Kinship and Gender. Patterns of Marriage, Residence, Lineage, Inheritance, and Authority
Class 11

Gender Issues: Identity, Notions of the Person, and Family and Work Roles.
Class 12

Contemporary Social Issues Effecting the Thai Family: Alcohol, Prostitution & AIDS, and Divorce. Related Field Experience: Home Stay
Class 13

POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS: Concepts of Kingship, Authority, and Hierarchy. Related Field Trip: Bangkok
Class 14

Local, Provincial, and National Political Structures Related Field Trip: Visit Provincial and City Government
Class 15

Contemporary Political and Social Movements
Class 16

ECONOMIC INSTITUTIONS: Formal and Informal Economies, and Impact of Industrialization upon Society, Culture, Environment, and Family.
Class 17

Patron-Client Relationships, Class Relationships, and Gender Relationships within the Work Environment
Class 18

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: Philosophy and Social Structure of Education in Thailand -Primary and Secondary Education. Related Field Trip: Faculty of Education
Class 19

Philosophy and Social Structure of Education in Thailand --Vocational, and Higher Education. Related Field Trip: Meet with Rector of CMU and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.
Class 20