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Are you interested in studying the ecology of tropical islands and their diversity
of animals and plant life? Are you are interested in the philosophies of Asian religions?
King University’s Biology and Philosophy Departments are offering a course for the
spring semester that will combine both biology and philosophy of Asia. The course
culminates with a two-week trip - one week in Penang, Malaysia and one in Phuket,
Thailand. The course and trip are open to any King student; the trip will take place
Leading the trip will be Dr. Han Ong, dean of the King’s College of Arts and Sciences,
who is from Penang, along with Dr. Craig Streetman, assistant professor of Philosophy.
“It is not just a biology trip,” says Ong. “Students will be living, eating, and mingling
with people in Asia. The four semester-hour course, Tropical Ecology and Philosophy
of Malaysia and Thailand, will couple the biology of the two islands with the Asiatic
religions and philosophies of the islands.”
Interested students will need to both register for the spring semester class and pay
a deposit by Dec. 1, 2013. The trip, which costs $3500, may be paid for in monthly
installments. The cost covers round-trip airfare to Malaysia and Thailand, all accommodations,
most transportation, all admission fees, and some meals.
Both islands have a variation in micro-climate. “The islands, which are at sea-level,
have ocean front areas where there are particular types of biodiversity,” says Ong.
“The islands also have mountains and hills with a variety of vegetation. There will
be a lot of hiking, some swimming, and other fun activities on this trip.”
As part of the biological lessons, students will spend time snorkeling to study ocean
life, swimming with sharks, observing coral life, and kayaking into limestone caves.
Students will also travel to a tropical herb and spice garden as well as a butterfly
farm to see how people are ‘growing’ butterflies.
“We will be taking quite a few inner city walking tours,” adds Ong. “These two cities
were, at some point in history, significant trading points for all shipping traffic
in Asia. This brought in a host of different cultures including Arabic from the Middle
East, and East Asian cultures from Japan and China. Penang and Phuket are a true melting
pots of culture. Part of the in-class experience will include learning Asian cultural
The well-preserved heritage buildings in Penang’s capital, Georgetown, has been accorded
Penang a listing as a United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) World Cultural Heritage Site. Many of the buildings are pre-WWI buildings,
which have been restored.
The trips will include information about restoration, historical preservation, and
also, the intermingling of different faiths. “It isn’t uncommon to see a church with
a mosque right across the street. A few doors down there may be a Buddhist temple
and a Hindu temple. Because the islands were trading posts, everything was concentrated
into a small area,” says Han. “This is a chance for students, who otherwise might
never have a chance, to step into a mosque and see what it is like.”
On the islands, we will also participate in a service project. “We want to inject
some social justice into the trip. It is a privilege to travel that far, see the world,
and pay it forward to someone who might be less fortunate than we are.”
For Han, he hopes students will see this experience in part as travel rather than
a vacation. “Travel is a learning process. There is nothing better than to learn by
meeting people, going where they live, and eating their food. At King, we have had
individual students travel to South Korea for a study abroad trip. However, to my
knowledge, this is the first trip of hopefully many for a group of students to study
abroad in Southeast Asia.”
During their time in Malaysia and Thailand, students will write travel blogs detailing
what they see, how they feel in comparisons to their lives in the United States.
If you are interested in the study abroad course, Tropical Ecology and Philosophy
of Malaysia and Thailand, contact Dr. Han Ong at 423.652.6007 or email@example.com, or Dr. Craig Streetman at 423.652.4158 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King
College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees
and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences,
pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration,
education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and
travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and
a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King
University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of
any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University
is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact
the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road,
Richlands, VA 24641.