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Preservation and perseverance: Cultural heritage and contemporary practice in Thailand

Preservation and perseverance: Cultural heritage and contemporary practice in Thailand

Using the historical and contemporary context of Chiang Mai, Thailand, this course examines how expressions of cultural heritage are transmitted, revitalized, and expanded in contemporary practice. Over three weeks, students from all disciplines will learn directly from community leaders, participate in hands-on workshops, and gain other first-hand experiences that will complement personal research and/or production. These activities will take place in the temples, palaces, galleries, and streets of the 700-year-old city, as well as nearby rural villages and upland indigenous communities.   


The course will explore three expressions of cultural heritage through the lens of "then and now":   

1. Thai ceramics and glazing  

2. Thai, Northern Thai, and indigenous weaving and textile production  

3. Temples Mural and their influence on local street art   


We will delve deep into the importance of the preservation continued transmission of these techniques, as well as reflect on how and why many of these approaches have also been adapted and refreshed. The course format is flexible to support studio-based art and design practitioners, researchers, and art educators.  


This course will be delivered in collaboration with ISDSI at their sustainable development campus  


In addition to hands-on workshops and community/site-visits, group discussion and collaboration will be central elements of the course structure. Students will learn about local histories, knowledge and techniques, as well as broader related topics/initiatives such as UNESCO’s Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Participants will build an understanding of varied approaches to transmitting and preserving cultural techniques, including recognizing how and why some cases undergo revitalization or innovation as they adapt to new or changing conditions. Ongoing contemplation and dialogue on how this individualized experience will be embedded in course content. This includes reflection on how the experience will influence and expand their own contemporary practice, including the ways each student will connect the concepts and techniques explored to their own conditions and positionally    


Students will be required to engage in reflection activities throughout the travel abroad experience. These activities will be developed in an open-ended fashion that students can respond to through creative and/or written outputs. This will include capturing knowledge shared with them, their own personal observations/experiences, and articulation of how the local cultural production being studied connects to broader concepts/considerations in creative practice.  


Additionally, students will engage in independent research both during and after the travel period culminating in a final output in-line with their primary discipline or new area of exploration.   


Travel Dates: May 5th – May 25th, 2024 


Preliminary Itinerary: 

May 5 - Sun   



Group dinner  

May 6 - Mon   

Group breakfast/lunch/dinner 

Survival Thai   

Course overview   

Introduction to the old city   

May 7 - Tue   

Survival Thai   

Group lunch in Old City 

Temple architecture and murals   

Street food (in small groups on your own)  

May 8 - Wed   

Market exploration   

Street art   

May 9 - Thur   

Study/create day   

May 10 - Fri   

Debrief / discussion/presentations   

Independent exploration of old city   

May 11 - Sat   

Optional activity (Patara Elephant Cafe)   

Free day   

May 12 - Sun   

Free Day   

Walking street exploration   

May 13 - Mon   

Thai galleries/Contemporary Art Museum   

Thai ceramics/glazes/ techniques   

May 14 - Tue   

Pottery studio day   

May 15 - Wed   

Folk and contemporary art in everyday life (bamboo, palm leaves, etc.)   

May 16 - Thur   

Study/create day   

May 17 - Fri   

Lowland Thai village visit and daily life   

Group lunch 

May 18 - Sat   

Optional Activity (Cooking Class)   

Free day   

May 19 - Sun   

Fee Day   

Walking street exploration   

May 20 - Mon   

Introduction to history of textiles in Southeast Asian cultures   

Group lunch 

Silk weaving and silk production   

May 21 - Tue   

Natural dyes/weaving day with Karen communities   

Hmong textile traditions (batik, etc.)   

Overnight in the village – breakfast/lunch/ dinner 

May 22 - Wed   

Mae Cheam / Northern Thai pa'sin and tinjok traditional weaving   

Norther rural temple study   

Return to Chiang Mai   

May 23 - Thur

Study/create day   

May 24 - Fri   


Wrap up   

Final group dinner   

May 25 - Sat   



Want to learn more? Join us for an information session on November 3rd 1:00pm-2:30pm 

Location: 115 McCaul, Lower-Level  


Instructor: Jennie Suddick  

International Programs & Collaborations Office: 

Submission deadline: Sunday November 12th by 11:59pm  


Eligibility: This call is open to undergraduate students who have completed 10.0 credits or more from the Faculty of Art, Faculty of Design, Faculty of Arts and Science and Graduate Students. Graduate students please email to for inquires on how this will fit into your program requirements. 


Funding: OCAD U seeks to reduce barriers to participation and increase the engagement of underrepresented students in international learning opportunities.     


Funding for undergraduate domestic undergraduate students is provided through the Global Skills Opportunity program. Target groups are defined through this program as follows:   


Low-income students: either having 1.) been approved for a Canada/Provincial Student Loan, Canada Student Grant or similar non-repayable student financial assistance in your province or territory for your current program of study OR 2.) In the absence of receiving non-repayable student financial assistance, can provide information to demonstrate that they require financial support in order to cover the estimated costs/expenses of this course.   


Indigenous students: First Nations, Métis, or Inuk (Inuit). This includes urban and unaffiliated Indigenous peoples.   


Students with disabilities: For the purposes of this program, disability is defined as a difficulty or impairment due to a long-term condition or health problem and/or experiences a limitation in their daily activities. Students do not need to be registered with OCAD U’s Student Accessibility Services, rather they are only required to only self-identify.    

This funding is to assist with flight and estimated costs for accommodations, meals and local travel are available to domestic undergraduate students who self-identify as one or more of these groups.  Along with your application, you will be asked to self-identify in order for us to gauge student funding eligibility. Note, your responses will not affect the evaluation of your application to participate. To receive these funds, eligible participants must participate in pre-departure training and will be required to submit GSO forms and travel forms.  


*Students who have already received this funding are not eligible. Priority will be given to students who have not already received GSO or GEP funding through previous opportunities*   


Estimated Costs/expenses: There is no associated participation or application fee, however, note that all selected students will be registered for this course and will be responsible for the associated tuition for a 0.5 credit. Eligible students will be provided with a maximum of $1750.00 CAD for their round-trip airfare. 


Successful applicants will be contacted to participate in a short interview on  

Monday, November 27th via Teams 


Flight *prices are subject to change* 


Up to a maximum of $1750.00 CAD will be provided 


Accommodations / Meals/ Local travel 


$2500.00 CAD 


Total Estimated Costs 


$4250.00 CAD 

This is the summary of estimated costs. For those students who are not eligible for GSO funding, they will be responsible for covering these expenses.  


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