The IES Abroad Kunming Summer Environmental Studies Program examines the environmental issues China and Southeast Asia currently face while also developing your Chinese language skills.
This program introduces you to the impact development has had on one of the most biodiverse regions of Asia, and the environmental challenges China and Southeast Asian nations face as a result of China’s economic rise. Course topics focus on the analysis of trans-boundary issues such as downstream water resources management, study of invasive species, and the impact of infrastructure development on local ecologies.
You learn methods of environmental impact assessment on location in Yunnan and on the extended mobile learning trip to Thailand and Laos. Spending the summer in these three countries, you not only gain insights into an international career field, but also have the chance to experience the language and cultural diversity of the region.
The IES Abroad Kunming Program is operated out of the University of Yunnan, which is located on Yi’eryi Street in central Kunming.
After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.
Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences.
You take a Chinese language course (offered at varying levels), in addition to the core course, Development & Environmental Conservation in the Greater Mekong Subregion. This 5-credit core course introduces the impact development has had on one of the most biodiverse regions of Asia. The environmental challenges China and Southeast Asian nations face as a result of China’s economic rise and a lack of coordination between development projects in Southeast Asian nations is also explored. The course is taught by Dr. Dequn Zhou, Environmental Studies professor and researcher, and former conservation project manager for The Nature Conservancy. The course is supported by guest lecturers and specialists in the field.
You earn a total of 8 credits through a 3-credit Chinese language course and a 5-credit core course.
This is a list of potential course offerings. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.
In addition to the mobile learning field trips, IES Abroad Kunming organizes field study trips that complement what you’re learning in the classroom, and contribute to your general knowledge of Chinese culture and society.
We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave Kunming, it will feel like home.
Residence Halls - You live in a double dorm room with another IES Abroad student in a residence hall in the IES Abroad Center on Yunnan University’s campus. You are responsible for your own meals. During the field study period outside of Kunming, some meals may be provided.
Part of making you feel at home in Kunming is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that prepares you, housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you to places off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services. This is just one of the things we’re known for.
During the first few days after arrival, you will receive practical information on housing, transportation, and extracurricular activities, while learning about Chinese and Kunming culture with China and Southeast Asian Development Program students.
Mobile Learning Field Trips & Cultural Events
A 14-day mobile learning field trip is organized to locations in Yunnan, Thailand, and Laos. The field trip begins in Kunming and travels first to Bangkok, Thailand, where you meet with experts from environmental organizations such as the UN Environmental Programme, headquartered in Bangkok.
Next, travel to northern Chiang Rai for seminars and field study excursions to border regions
where the environmental impact of economic development is most prominent.
In Laos, you meet with government and business officials from Laos, China, and the U.S. Mission in Vientiane along with key NGOs like the Mekong River Foundation.
In Luang Prabang, you experience Lao culture first-hand by staying in local guesthouses and spending time on and along the Mekong river to gain a deeper understanding of the life and social needs of the Lao people. The cost of this mobile learning trip is included in the program fee.
You also take a three-day mobile learning field trip to Dali to learn of development plans for the upper Mekong River Basin and regional environmental protection efforts. Dali Old Town is located between the snow-capped Cang Shan and the 60-mile-long Er’hai Lake where you discuss the ecological impact of the Manwan Dam on the local region and its downstream effects.
Weekend excursions and cultural events are also offered.
Optional Tibet Field Trip
An optional post-semester 8-10-day trip to Tibet is offered to all IES Kunming students. IES staff and a team of professional Tibetan guides will take you from the markets and temples of Lhasa to high mountain passes and camping by the shores of alpine lakes. We will visit sites including the Potala Palace, once the home of the Dalai Lamas; Jokhang Temple, the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism; and the Sera Monastery where we will watch the monks participate in their daily debate ritual. Lodging will be in local hostels or sometimes camping in tents under the stars. Most meals and all local transportation is provided. Contact IES staff for information on pricing and schedule. The itinerary is subject to change or cancellation depending upon the political situation in Tibet.
The IES Abroad staff at the Kunming Center can’t wait to welcome you. Located in culturally diverse Kunming, we will be there to support you when you need it.
The IES Abroad Kunming Center is located on the campus of Yunnan University, one of China’s top research universities. The building is 6 stories, without an elevator. The IES Abroad Kunming Center shares the same floor as the student dorm rooms and IES Abroad classrooms. This contributes to the vibrant living-learning community for IES Abroad students, staff, and faculty. There is wireless internet access in the Center space, including the classrooms, offices, and resource room.
Features of the IES Abroad Kunming Center include:
The building is also used for housing for other international students from Southeast Asia, classrooms, and offices.
Meet the Director
Brian Eyler | Center Director
Brian Eyler holds a Masters of Pacific International Affairs (MPIA) from UC San Diego specializing in China’s economic development and received his undergraduate degree from Bucknell University. He has studied and worked in China for more than 15 years. His current academic research focuses on the international downstream effects of China’s economic development projects in the Mekong River basin (in China’s Yunnan province) upon Southeast Asia. Brian also writes for the blog East by Southeast. Prior to becoming the Center Director in Kunming, Brian worked as the IES Abroad Center Director in Beijing for seven years and has led the Kunming Summer programs since 2011.
IES Abroad Staff
Will FeinbergStudent Affairs Coordinator
IES Abroad language faculty are experienced Chinese language instructors from the Yunnan University College of International Students. The instructors are dedicated to teaching the IES Abroad language curriculum and utilize standard and innovative Western second language teaching methods.
Area Studies Faculty
IES Abroad area studies faculty typically hold advanced degrees from prestigious Chinese or Western universities, have studied or taught at Western universities, have published in China and abroad, and currently hold positions at universities such as Yunnan University, Kunming Institute of Technology, and the China Academy of Sciences, or are prestigious Fulbright scholars. All faculty are actively involved in producing research related to the curriculum at IES Abroad Kunming.