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More than a class trip: students learn about field research in Korea

Students and faculty in SOCD55H3 — Field School in Critical Migration Study gather their bags while travelling to their Korean destination.

Most students don’t want to spend their summer in school, but seven U of T Scarborough students were more than excited to do just that. 

Enrolled in the summer course, Field School in Critical Migration Study (SOCD55H3), these students had the incredible chance to take part in a pilot global field school that took their learning all the way to South Korea.

“It’s always been important to me to teach courses that take students outside the classroom and give them an opportunity to connect what they are learning in lectures and readings to what is going on in the real world,” says Jennifer Chun, Associate Professor in the department of Sociology at U of T Scarborough.

Professor Chun, who is also the director of the Centre for the Study of Korea in the Asian Research Institute of the Munk School of Global Affairs, quickly realized that the opportunities available for downtown students to travel globally for their studies were not the same at the Scarborough campus.

Chun worked with colleague, Sociology Professor Patricia Landolt and the sociology department of South Korea’s Yonsei University, to create a Global Field School -SOCD55H3- specifically for students at U of T Scarborough.

Landolt explained that it’s just like any other summer course. “Students receive half a credit, they will have in-class lectures, coursework and a final research proposal” she says.   

After a competitive application process, fourth year sociology majors Teresa Lau and Azeem Shah were part of the lucky few that headed to South Korea.

Growing up in Asia, Lau recalls visiting the country with her mother when she was very young, and applied for this experience to get a deeper understanding of the country.

“The world is big and the knowledge we produce is contextualized, I want to see how other social contexts work by looking outside of Canada,” says Lau, vice president of the Students of Sociology. 

Shah, who has a budding clothing brand, had a different purpose for his time. “I want to learn about other cultures, as well as explore how the Korean fashion industry packages and markets products,” says Shah.

Professor Chun, who is on a sabbatical in South Korea, was there to greet the students and kick things off.  The 10-day South Korea itinerary was structured with lectures in the morning and site visits in the afternoons including stops at libraries, museums, protest sites, military camp towns and even the demilitarized zone.

“This is the pilot year. The students are brave for going, they don’t know what to expect. Nobody is a Korean studies oriented student so they will learn about issues concerning labour, migration and capitalism through the lens of Korea,” says Chun.

To see trip photos and learn more about the students’ experiences, check out their blog.


© University of Toronto Scarborough