Dr Bruce Missingham speaks about new IWC Masters field trip to Thailand
"The field trip has two valuable aspects to it. The first one is immersion – putting people in a real situation, living with ordinary villagers in their homes, talking to them about their day-to-day lives and activities and actually participating in those lives and activities. They walk around the streets and look at how water is accessed and managed and used within a village, and talk to the villagers about how they did things in the past and how that’s changed, and how that might change again in the future. These are processes of immersion.
The other aspect of the field trip is learning directly from the villagers themselves, for example, understanding the impacts of large dams, and learning about the ecology of the local river and how local livelihoods depend upon it. They learn processes of community development and community organisation with the people who have actually been involved in leading and running those things themselves.
This year we’re taking a group of 22 students and they’ll be staying in 11 households and eating with the villagers at the end of the day. There’s a village cooperative that will provide us with a place where we can meet and talk to the leaders about their experiences and the different kinds of knowledge they’d like to share with the students, and we’ll be running short field trips to the dam itself, jumping on boats and going on the river and looking at local fishing ecology and techniques and things like that.
We’ll be talking to the abbots of the local Buddhist temple and to the village heads, and we’ll also be talking to government officials about their perspectives on water and river development to get a broad range of views.
So it’s very much about learning in the field and through a process of dialogue with people in the field rather than learning about it in the classroom, and generating the knowledge in our conversations with the villagers while we’re there. This way the experience will be much more real and immediate."