Summer Field Study Course Brings Students To Southeast Asia

A 2018 summer field study course on Environmental Governance in the Developing World will offer VLS students the opportunity to study and travel to Cambodia and Vietnam. The course is co-taught by William Schulte, Assistant Director of VLS’s U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law, and Professor Yanmei Lin.

The field study portion of the course provides students an opportunity to observe firsthand some of the challenges to implementing strong environmental governance in Southeast Asia. The 2017 trip included visits to local law firms and NGOs, observation of a village community collaborative planning process, and a forest hike through some of the most remote and biodiverse habitat of Cambodia.

"It was truly an eye opening experience that gave us a deep appreciation for some of the difficulties that countries in the developing world face in pursuing sustainable development.”
—William Schulte

The centerpiece of the visit to Cambodia was a field trip to a village within the Prey Lang Forest, the largest remaining lowland evergreen forest in Southeast Asia. Students observed a community meeting organized by local activists to discuss a collaborative management framework, including detailed maps, and what implementing Collaborative Management would mean for the local community.

The highlight of the Vietnam segment was a visit to the Trang An UNESCO World Heritage site in Ninh Binh Province, south of Hanoi. Trang An is a complex of karst limestone peaks with waterways, ancient temples, and some small villages throughout the valleys. Schulte says, “in addition to the incredible scenery, this visit gave us an appreciation for what successful eco-tourism could look like as a solution to protecting unique areas such as this.” In 2018, Schulte and Lin look forward to continuing to work with these partners and support them in their mission to implement strong environmental governance.