Study Trip


NGO Practicum

This practicum trip offers an interdisciplinary overview of Cambodian culture, business development and mission-based organizations. Through participating in a series of lectures, guided tours, in-country meetings, engagements with organizations and qualitative fieldwork, you will actively work with local organizations to gather data for your research, civic and professional objectives.

Honing on on a research area, you will join an “atelier” to dive deeper into your respective interests and will come together with your fellow students at specific points to share observations and findings. These "ateliers" are:

  • NGO Communications (with Prof. Tanya Elder)
  • NGO Management & Development Finance (with Prof. Robert Earhart & Prof. James Ward)

Currently, the practicum focuses on the cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Riep and Battambang.

To assist you in realizing your objectives, the course is organized according to six learning modules that address fundamental questions. You will complete fieldwork informed by these objectives and are offered the opportunity to specialize in one or more of these areas depending on your research and engagement interests:

  1. Communications: How do Cambodian NGO’s present themselves to external funders? What are the differences in the communications strategies between local NGO’s and international NGO’s present in the country?
  2. Culture: What are some of the basic assumptions that form the foundations of Cambodian society? How does Cambodian history (e.g. Angkor Empire, 20th century colonialism and conflicts) shape the Cambodian identity? How has our perception of the country been formed? Is our perception based on flawed assumptions? How do these cultural foundations impact business and NGO developments in the country?
  3. Sustainability: How is sustainable development practiced in Cambodia? What are the barriers there to developing a sustainable economy? How do these practices reflect the culture, politics, environment and the economics of the region? How are NGO’s involved in sustainable development and how effective are they given political, social and economic circumstances of the country?
  4. Financial & Business Development: How does the Cambodian economy work past and present? What is the outlook for the future? What are some of Cambodia’s strengths on the global market? What are some if its disadvantages? How do NGO’s respond to these conditions?
  5. Tourism: How does Cambodia appeal to tourists? What are the target markets and how well has Cambodian tourism been organized to appeal to these markets? What are some of the benefits and tradeoffs of various forms of tourism: adventure-tourism, eco-tourism, volunteer tourism and “dark” tourism? How do Cambodians (and outsiders) market the country as a destination? Is tourism adequate for the economic social development goals of the country? How are NGO’s involved in the tourism industry? How is tourism related to fundraising in this country?
  6. Microfinance: How does microfinance work in a developing country like Cambodia? What are some of the critical tradeoffs for investors and fund recipients? How are NGO partnerships
  7. Operations Management: How do Cambodian NGO’s operate? How do they work in an environment with specific resource, communications, and geographic constraints?