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C of I professor leads student research trip to Thailand

College of Idaho political economy professor Dr. Rob Dayley and a team of four undergraduate student researchers recently returned from a summer trip to Thailand, where they studied the political, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the country’s troubled tangerine industry.

Dayley and recently-graduated C of I students Morgan Bow, Alex Grande, Chris Kober and Nikki Watson made the trip thanks to a $25,000 ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellowship grant.  The group studied the Thai tangerine industry by interviewing farmers, migrant workers, government officials, activists and industry experts to learn about the local effects tangerine growing has on Northern Thailand. The results were used to create the video documentary Tangerine Dreams: Boom and Bust in Northern Thailand, which is posted on the C of I YouTube channel. A gallery of photos is also available on the C of I Flickr page.

"This topic seemed perfect for faculty-mentored student research,” said Dayley, who has visited Thailand nine times. “We learned that poorly regulated markets subject to rapid demand are prone to overproduction, followed by boom and bust. The students documented firsthand the adverse effects the rapid rise and decline of the tangerine industry had on local Thai populations.”

The C of I project was one of only 13 to receive funding this year from ASIANetwork, a national consortium of Asian studies programs. The group will present the video along with an associated paper and poster at an ASIANetwork conference in Portland, Ore., and at the 2012 C of I Student Research Conference next spring.

“I’ve led C of I winter courses to Thailand many times, but this opportunity was singularly special,” Dayley said. “We engaged in real field research. I used to believe that real field-based student research in Asian Studies wasn’t possible for undergraduates, but I now know that it is possible with sufficient funding and a small research team of highly-capable students like Alex, Chris, Morgan and Nikki.”

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including six Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another ten Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.