The 3-week Social Innovation Lab field course provides you an opportunity to explore Vietnam’s highly innovative social innovation landscape, and to address social innovation topics in partnership with local entrepreneurs and civil society leaders. GEI’s Social Innovation Labs in countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam aspire to drive collective social impact in the host countries by researching, designing and implementing out-of-the-box solutions with and for local communities. Student teams first develop key skills through classroom learning, workshops, field visits and general cultural immersion. You then spend two weeks working in interdisciplinary service-learning teams to address a specific social innovation topic in partnership with local entrepreneurs and civil society leaders. These topics derive from our ongoing Social Innovation Lab and Social Enterprise Incubator projects.
- Learn to use basic design thinking tools to solve social problems with a “designerly” mindset.
- Understand the role of social innovation in dealing with complex sustainable development issues.
- Engage with Vietnamese entrepreneurs or civil society leaders to develop social innovation solutions.
- Work in a small multicultural team and gain invaluable intercultural competence relevant to your field of study.
- Explore the progress and challenges towards development of one of Asia’s leading success stories – Vietnam.
- Broaden your personal and professional network, and build lasting international friendships.
The course is offered as a 3-week field course. A week of skills development through classroom learning, workshops, field visits and general cultural immersion is followed by two weeks of service-learning where students work hand in hand with their local partners and use techniques of design thinking to contribute to concrete social innovation projects.
You will be studying with a multicultural group of students that includes up to 5 local students whom we invite to participate on a full scholarship. The total group size is typically between 5 and 20 students.
There are no academic prerequisites. To be eligible to apply for this course, students can be enrolled in any major and minor, including, among others, business, engineering, social sciences, development studies, or any related area. Service-learning tasks will be tailored to the backgrounds and skills of the students. Enrollment is generally reserved for sophomores, juniors and seniors, or by consent of the instructor. Graduate students and professionals are welcome to apply for participation without credits.
Course requirements and student evaluation
- Course participation and engagement (25%)
- Weekly reflective journal or blog (10%)
- Journalistic article (10%)
- Group presentation (25%)
- Essay relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (30%)
4 academic credits are available from our main U.S. academic school of record, The College of New Jersey, under a Community Field Experience.
The Asian Dragon is undergoing some of the fastest socio-economic changes any country in the world has seen. It is a major development success story with remarkable rates of economic growth since the start of massive political and economic reforms in 1986. But the lure of modern living has a deep impact on the traditional networks of family and community that continue to play a pivotal role in society.
The course gateway is downtown Saigon, the bustling city center of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1. The area is known for its maze of little restaurants, cafés and shops. In some cases, projects are located in other parts of Vietnam, particularly in Central Vietnam, including Quang Tri Province, north of Hue.
Students are typically hosted at a local guesthouse. When placed in Ho Chi Minh City, students will be within easy walking distance of many main attractions such as Ben Thanh Market, the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Museum. The guesthouses feature 24-hour reception and security, free Wi-Fi and a daily breakfast. Rooms are typically equipped with individual air-conditioning, a fridge, TV, phone, small safety deposit box and en-suite bathroom with shower. Laundry and dry-cleaning services are available for a small fee.
Weekend excursions are arranged to visit attractive historical and cultural sites.
- Arrival day airport meet and greet
- Accommodation with breakfast
- Transportation for all excursions
- Meals during program activities (typically all lunches and selected dinners)
- On-site orientation
- Course-related activity and entrance fees
- Full-time on-site coordination and support
- Health insurance
Not included are the transportation to/from the destination airport (including international airfare and taxes), visas, immunizations, some of the meals, items and services of a personal nature, medical expenses not covered by the insurance provided and other discretionary expenses.
4 academic credits are available at an additional fee of US $500 from the U.S. academic school of record, The College of New Jersey.
Coralie Jacquot, our GEI Executive Coordinator, is our Global Instructor for Social Innovation Lab courses. A French national, she holds Master’s degrees in International Management (Dublin) and Business Management & International Affairs (Paris). Prior to joining us, she worked at the United Nations Secretariat’s Academic Impact Program in New York as well as at UNESCO’s Division of Water Sciences in Paris.
Thuy Phan, our Vietnamese Country Manager, is also the Instructor of the Women & Leadership field course. She has a Master’s degree in Gender & Development Studies from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and previously worked as Vice Director of the Center for Social Research and Development in Hue. She also gained experience as a Visiting Lecturer in different parts of Vietnam.
- Tuition: US $1,615
- Room & board: US $615
- Health insurance: US $60
- TOTAL: US $2,290
4 academic credits
- Program flyer: PDF download