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Fieldschool in Intercultural Education

Fieldschool group in Kayelitsha

The Fieldschool is a collaborative research training opportunity, typically based in a less developed country for 6-12 weeks, in which participants work in teams with host country community and academic partners to address a common issue or problem. In addition to service-learning activities, each team carries out primary data collection while learning skills such as participant observation, focus group management, conducting surveys, recording data, and preliminary data analysis. In addition, each student has their own individual project.

The Community Development Action (CDA), Human Development Counseling (HDC), and Community Research and Action (CRA) programs offer qualified graduate students the opportunity to participate in supervised field research at the community level through the Fieldschool. Eligible students must be functionally competent in the host language and have completed at least two semesters of relevant course work.

In 2003 and 2004 graduate students worked in the Chimborazo and Esmeraldas provinces among Quichua and Afro-Ecuadorian peoples. The study centered on the impacts of programs aimed at building human and social capital in minority communities, through grants provided to bright but poor young people to finish high school, university or post-graduate studies.

In 2006, Professor Isaac Prilleltensky led the fieldschool in Buenos Aires, which focused on the struggles of poor people living in “villas miserias” or “misery villages” as they are known in Argentina. Students partnered with several governmental and grass roots organizations to understand their plight and contribute to their community organizing efforts. Our students were placed in several locations throughout Buenos Aires. We also partnered with local community psychologists to learn from each other about effective approaches to community building and well-being in that context.

The 2007 Fieldschool in Guangxi Autonomous Region of Southern China was led by Professor Douglas Perkins (Co-Director: Jill Robinson; RAs: Brooks, Gould, Kopsumbut, Lilienthal, Magvanjav, Marks, Miller, Siankam, Solomon, Zheng). The China Fieldschool focused on socio-cultural, health promotion, economic, educational and urban/regional planning aspects of community development. The following measures were developed as part of the urban community needs assessment project:

The 2012 Fieldschool was based in Cape Town and included travel throughout South Africa. It was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad program and was led by Dr. Perkins, Maury Nation, and Gina Frieden. Participants included students from the CRA, HDC, and CDA graduate programs, and Stellenbosch University. The focus of work was Youth and Community Development, school dropout prevention, early childhood educator professional development, and HIV prevention and treatment adherence. Collaborating host organizations included the Extramural Education Project, the Desmond Tutu HIV Research Foundation at the University of Cape Town Medical School, SHAWCO, the Manenberg Primary School, Silvertree Youth Development Centre, and Lavender Hill Secondary School.