A More Sustainable Approach to Development, Study Abroad & Conservation in Central Vietnam?

Institute for Village Studies is a non-profit organization based in Bellingham that collaborates with village communities in achieving their vision for a better future. We accomplish this through community-driven development, research, and cross-cultural education. One example of our approach to international development and environmental conservation is illustrated by a new program we are launching for WWU students in central Vietnam this summer. It strives to institutionalize strategies for more inclusive development and the successful implementation of projects and policies locally. Students from different countries, including Vietnam, participate in a progressive fieldwork immersion program that dares participants to think critically about development, and gives them the tools to understand the underlying assets and strengths of the communities we visit. In doing so, they model participatory strategies for development and build skills in community engagement and project management. Over time these methods have been adopted by local government officials, private sector actors and community-based organizations, which have created new opportunities for more sustainable development that prioritizes the hopes, dreams and ingenuity of local people. To date, 79 students and 41 professionals, including, university faculty, NGO staff, and administration officials, have completed the program, directly impacting the work of eight organizations in three different regional jurisdictions. Learn more about this model and how you can get involved in our work.


About the Speaker

Photo of Ashley Hollenbeck
Ashley Hollenbeck
Executive Director, Institute for Village Studies

Ashley Hollenbeck is the Executive Director of Institute for Village Studies. She is a native of the Pacific Northwest and just moved to Bellingham after spending most of her career abroad. Her work has focused on environmental conservation, international development and cross-cultural education in various roles in Japan, Vietnam, Morocco, and the United States. Ashley is interested in continuing to explore how international education can be a tool to work to address complex global challenges at the local level through interdisciplinary, cross-cultural engagement.

Environmental Speaker Series

The Environmental Speaker Series is hosted by the College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

The Series is free and open to the public. Talks are held each Thursday at 4:30 pm in Academic Instructional Center West room 204 - AW-204. Talks will also be streamed via zoom. Register with the Alumni Association for the zoom link. Paid parking is available in lot C.

Learn more about the Environmental Speaker Series
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