Nongovernmental Organizations of Southeast Asia

Language Requirement: None
Academic Standing by Program Start: Sophomore or above
Location: Multicountry, Cambodia, Thailand
GPA: 2.75
Program Overview

THIS PROGRAM WILL BE OFFERED AGAIN IN SUMMER 2022. A remote #NoPassportNeeded experience based on this program is available in summer 2020. 


In this four-week summer program, you will meet with nonprofit/nongovernmental organization (NGO) leaders, learn about the NGO sector in this region, and work on a hands-on project for a local organization in Cambodia. The program will begin in Chiang Mai, Thailand, then travel to Bangkok, Thailand and Siem Reap, Cambodia, and will end in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The group will spend about one week in each city. 

Southeast Asia is a dynamic region with dozens of ethnic groups and languages.  During the program, you will stay both in towns, like Chiang Mai, Thailand and Siem Reap, Cambodia, as well as large cities like Bangkok and Phnom Penh.  Locally, there are hundreds of NGOs working on issues such as environmental protection and conservation, education and health care, and human rights.  While these countries are often termed “developing”, students will experience the variety of communities and stages of economic development, and explore the impact of the wars of the 20th century, globalization and climate change on the region.

In addition to visiting a variety of NGOs, the program will also visit cultural sites, including the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the Killing Fields in Cambodia, and Angkor Wat. The program will also visit Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for rescued elephants that is considered a pioneer in the treatment of captive elephants.

Read UO student Emily Edwards' blog about her experience in Thailand during this program in summer 2016.

Internship Opportunity for UO students: Students have the option to combine this program with a 6-week or 8-week internship in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam through the UO GlobalWorks program. The internship would begin on July 23. As part of the GlobalWorks application, you can also apply for the Freeman Internship Fellowship, which provides up to $5,000 in funding. Students wanting to combine this study abroad program with an internship need to complete both the GEO application and GlobalWorks application by January 15. Speak with your GEO advisor or UO GlobalWorks advisor Yifang Zhang for additional information. If you arrange your own internship in East or Southeast Asia, you are also eligibile to apply for the Freeman Internship Fellowship.

Scholarship Opportunity: Several NGOs program scholarships will be awarded to students accepted into the Nongovernmental Organizations of Southeast Asia program. Scholarship awards will be based on financial need as well as overall quality of applicants’ study abroad applications. The scholarship application is within the program application; speak with your GEO advisor for more information. The due date for the Scholarship Essay is March 15, 2020.

Academic Details

In this program, you will enroll in two classes and earn a total of 8 UO quarter credits. Both classes are approved as 488/588 PPPM credit (Planning, Public Policy, and Management).

Course approvals: 

  • The classes count as major elective credits for all PPPM undergraduate and graduate students. For graduate students in the Master of Nonprofit Management program, the classes count towards the "Management Sequence." The classes count as electives for the PPPM and Nonprofit Administration minors. 
  • The courses are also approved by International Studies, General Social Science, Sociology, and Asian Studies. Students in those majors should speak with your GEO advisor and departmental advisor for additional information.
  • The Nongovernmental Organizations of South-East Asia course (4 credits) is approved to count towards a specific area of the Environmental Studies major and minor if the student focuses the research project and class work on an environmental NGO. ENVS students should speak with their departmental advisor and GEO advisor for additional information. 
  • The courses are approved to count as electives towards the Entrepreneurship minor. 
  • Students in the MBA program can use these courses as 2 of their external courses. Please check in with your MBA advisor for further information and for the required forms that need to be submitted. 
  • Students in other majors are encouraged to show the program syllabi (see link at right) to their academic advisor in order to determine whether these credits can count towards a major or minor elective.

The guiding questions of the classes on this program are: What is the role of nongovernmental organizations in providing services and shaping policy abroad? How do these organizations emerge and evolve over time? What is the relationship between “western” funders and NGOs active in developing nations?  How does charity and volunteerism differ in South East Asia? What are differences in the NGO sectors in Thailand and Cambodia?  The basic goal is to help students have a general understanding of the ongoing issues and challenges of these organizations working abroad.

We will be exploring these questions as we visit NGOs and meet with leaders in four cities in Cambodia (Siem Reap and Phnom Penh) and Thailand (Chiang Mai and Bangkok).  Students will also conduct in-depth analyses of the groups we will be meeting with during our trip, leading to a better understanding of the challenges facing NGOs in the developing world, and the role of local, national and international actors in supporting economic development, health care, education, human rights work and conservation efforts.

By completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand and evaluate the primary theories of NGOs abroad.
  • Understand the role of NGOs in the economy, in advocacy and in policy in a developing nation.
  • Evaluate the ways that NGOs carry about their work, from fundraising to their day-to-day operations.
  • Understand the trends, challenges and opportunities facing international NGOs.

Note for non-UO students: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.

Faculty and Staff

Dyana Mason is an Assistant Professor of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon, where she teaches primarily in the Master of Nonprofit Management and Master of Public Administration programs. Her research interests include nonprofit management and governance, the organization and formation of interest/advocacy organizations, the political economy of the nonprofit sector, charitable giving and experimental research on collective action and fundraising activities. She has travelled extensively around the world, and Asia. During the 2014-2015 academic year, she was also selected as Teacher of the Year by the students of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management.

Professor Mason previously led the Nongovernmental Organizations of Southeast Asia program in summer 2016, and led a program on Nonprofits and Social Change in Rosario, Argentina in summer 2018.

Housing Description

Students will stay in hotels, hostels, and guest houses in Thailand and Cambodia, and will be in shared rooms. The housing will be conveniently located within each city and will have internet access. Breakfast is included each day, but you will purchase most other meals on your own. The local staff can give recommendations regarding local markets and restaurants to try.

Dates and Deadlines
See note above regarding an earlier deadline for students wanting to combine this program with an internship.
TermYearPriority DeadlineDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date

Travel Advisories

For current health, safety, and travel advisory information, search the US Department of State country webpage.

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.