Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Higher Education

First Advisor

Ryan Gildersleeve, Ph.D.


Community impact, Critical theory, Study abroad


This paper explores how three communities in rural Thailand are building global education program provision infrastructure as they respond to the desires of U.S. study abroad programs to place students in homestay experiences. The three communities profiled in this study are each seeking alternate paths that allow engagement with outsider visitors while minimizing unwanted impacts. Through my research, I challenge the hidden narrative in U.S. higher education practice and discourse that a study abroad destination's main value is as a site for the benefit of U.S. higher education students; a site where they can accrue cultural, social, and political capital. Traditional study abroad research suffers from problems of exclusion, with U.S. students the only unit of analysis that is prioritized. In this study, I utilized a critical ethnographic design to structure data collection and analysis, with focus on both the institution of study abroad as it is operationalized within the U.S. higher education context, as well as the specific context in the communities I visited in Northern Thailand. Communities experienced a wide range of benefits that they were able to leverage or had the potential to deploy through engaging with the study abroad economy. Benefits were not limited to only financial capital, but included cultural and social and political capital. Communities with developed systems of distributive benefit allowed learning environments for students that produced more positive outcomes for community members as well. From these findings I hypothesize that in well-designed study abroad programs, both community members and students can be empowered and the relationship can be mutually beneficial.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Lauren Collins

File size

225 p.

File format





Cultural anthropology, Education, Southeast Asian studies

Available for download on Monday, October 04, 2021