This postgraduate study tour is an experience of “doing” theology in the context of exposure-immersion to sites, organisations and Catholic schools engaged in social justice mission and ministry, especially those serving the indigenous ethnic minorities of Thailand.

Instead of traditional classroom lectures, most of your learning will take place through your experience in the field, as you listen to community organisers, tribal leaders, and the local youth. This is an experiment in theologising from the ground-up, where the starting point of your reflections are the life and realities of the people of Thailand.

Tour details


Saturday 28 September to Sunday 6 October 2019


THCP615 Theology, Social Justice and Mission


This study tour will take place in Northern Thailand, specifically around the provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. You will fly in to Chiang Mai on Saturday 28 September 2019 and depart on Sunday 6 October 2019. During this time, we will visit many different educational and theological sites, taking many road trips by minivan.

What you can expect

  • Spend the first two nights in Chiang Mai, the next three nights in Chiang Rai, and the last three nights back in Chiang Mai.
  • Visit Xavier Learning Community, a college established by the Society of Jesus to serve young people from tribal villages.
  • Stop over at a village of the Karen Long Neck Tribes people, where the women wear brass coils around their necks.
  • Visit the Training Center for Religio-Cultural Community, which focuses on sustainable development and cultural agriculture.
  • Learn about the ministries of the Jesuit Refugee Services and their advocacy on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
  • Visit sacred and historical temples such as the Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Dao Sacred Cave, Wat Thaton, and Doi Suthep Temple.

Tour leader

Dr Edmund Chia worked in Thailand for eight years where he headed the interreligious dialogue office of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences. Originally from Malaysia, Dr Chia completed his doctoral studies in Europe, taught for a number of years in the United States and, since 2011, has been teaching at ACU. His expertise is in the area of Asian theology.

Read more about Dr Edmund Chia

Study tour highlights

  • Experience a home visit in the hill-tribe villages, enabling you to witness up close the culture and life of northern Thailand’s tribal peoples.
  • Learn about Thai socio-politico-cultural realities by immersing yourself in public squares, night bazaars and cultural centres.
  • Participate in interreligious dialogue through visits to sacred temples, encounters with Buddhist monks and learning about the practice of Vipassana meditation.
  • Study the acute socio-political challenges, including the pervasive effects of the drug trade at the Golden Triangle and Hall of Opium Museum.
  • Explore Thai history and culture at the Lanna Folklife Museum and the ancient underground lost city of Wiang Kum Kam.

Topics covered will include:

  • Reflection from the perspective of theology as “faith seeking empowering understanding” or as “a hermeneutic of hope”.
  • An experience of how Asian Christians integrate the theoretical and practical perspectives of missioning as minorities in a predominantly Buddhist nation.
  • A study of selected key texts on the faith that does justice and lives out the Gospel in contemporary times.
  • Interreligious dialogue and how the Church is in partnership with its religious neighbours in its quest for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
  • Debriefing sessions to reflect on our experiences together and to help each other discern critical theological learning points.

Register your interest for this study tour

Register here


This study tour is available to ACU postgraduate students enrolled in the following programs:

  • Graduate Diploma in Theological Studies
  • Master of Theological Studies
  • Master of Professional Studies in Theology

Students undertaking some postgraduate education programs are also eligible to participate.

All ACU students should consult your course coordinator for information regarding eligibility, enrolment and credit points.

There are limited places available for interested students from other institutions, as well as members of the public who wish to participate in the unit in an audit capacity.

If you are interested in taking part as a cross-institutional student or as an audit participant, please register your interest.

This study tour can be taken for 10 cp or 20cp.

Depending on the elective units you have already completed and subject to approval from your course coordinator, you can enrol in any of the units below:

  • THEL620 Special Studies in Theology A (10cp)
  • THEL640 Special Studies in Theology B (10cp)
  • THEL621 Theology Project A (10cp)
  • THEL622 Theology Project B (10cp)
  • THEL620 and THEL640 (20cp)
  • THEL621 and THEL622 (20cp)
  • THCP615 Theology, Social Justice and Mission (20cp)

Costs and funding

Study tour cost: $1,795 twin share (single supplement: $315).

Included in the study tour cost: accommodation and breakfast, ground transportation, some lunches and dinners, entrance fees, local guides, stipend for host communities, and study trip materials.

Not included in the study tour cost: airfares, travel insurance, some lunches and dinners.

Please note: Unit fees are also applicable upon enrolment.

ACU students may be eligible for financial assistance to support the cost of travel and incidentals, including the $500 ACU Vice Chancellor and President’s Travel Grant.

Learn more about available financial support on the ACU Student Portal

Please note: You will need an ACU student login to access this information.

How to apply

Before enrolling in this unit, your application must be approved. Register your interest using the online form below to receive an application form.

You will need to return the application form to the tour leader, Dr Edmund Chia, as soon as possible. All applications are assessed and approved on a “first-come, first-served” basis until the maximum number of participants is reached.

Register your interest for the Thailand study tour 

More information

For more information about the upcoming Thailand study tour, please email Dr Edmund Chia.


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