SFU - Vanuatu: Community Engaged Research for Social Science

Vanuatu , Australia and Oceania Past Program Psychology Social Sciences Social Sciences

Duration of Program:

These dates are provided as guidelines and subject to change

Late February - mid-March: Mandatory self-paced virtual orientation program on Canvas

March TBD: Pre-Departure Orientation

May 8: Begin coursework and remote Culture and Cognition seminar

May 27 -  June 16: Study in Vanuatu


The goal of this field school is to provide undergraduate students in psychology or related fields with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge to approach their scientific endeavours with a community-engaged, multi-method and global responsibility. The focus of the school will be to develop and implement a social science research project focused on human social development in a small-scale non-Western island society on Tanna, Vanuatu, where Dr. Broesch is the director of a long-term research field lab (since 2012).

Students will spend two weeks pre-departure immersed in a Culture and Cognition seminar taught remotely by Dr. Broesch synchronously online via zoom. This course will be an intensive two-week-long course and students are expected to have completed the readings prior to the start of the course. Students will then spend three weeks in Vanuatu, where Dr. Broesch has established long-term research connections with the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta and host families on Tanna Island at the Field lab. The program runs for 8 weeks and follows a very specific timeline consisting of 21 days in Vanuatu (10 in host village on Tanna), 3 weeks of coursework online (both pre- and post- trip) and 2 weeks on own (one week pre and one week post trip). Throughout this field school, students will learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate community-engaged research with a focus on children and families.


This program consists of 10 SFU Units. 

Psychology 450-4: Advanced Seminar in Developmental Psychology: Culture and Development 

This course will provide students with an introduction to current theoretical debates in the academic field of culture and developmental psychology. Students will read, discuss, and contrast current theories and competing explanations for observed variation in the first few years of life. Students will also discuss the implications for observed commonalities. Special emphasis will be placed on parenting behaviours and socialization practices, however, students will also examine ecological constraints on development. Emphasis will be placed on fostering critical analysis of current theories and methodology, as well as discussing underlying assumptions in the developmental psycholoigcal literature. The overall goal is to examine early child social and cognitive development from an interdisciplinary perspective. 

Please note that all course readings are to be completed prior to the start of the summer term. 

*For the full course syllabus, please click here

Psychology 425-3: Field School I 

Students will learn about the ethical and practical barriers as well as solutions to conducting research in historically and economically vulnerable populations, specifically, the global south. Students will draw upon a method and research perspective known as ABCD - Asset Based Community Development, wherein the emphasis is on documenting and utilizing the assets in a community and working with the community to design research that is citizen-engaged. Students will read relevant literature in cultural psychology, anthropology as well as international community development. There will be guest lecturers and workshops throughout the course. Students will produce and present a proposed research initiative that incorporates the knowledge obtained in this course as well as practical tools and methods for overcoming research barriers. 

*For the full course syllabus, please click here

Psychology 426-3: Field School II 

Students will spend 10 days living and conducting research in Lounikawek village on Tanna island, Vanuatu at the host village of Dr. Broesch's culture and development long-term field laboratory. Students will spend these 10 days integrating into the community, discussing and revising their research project within the community, implementing their research project (developed in PSYC 425), obtaining feedback from the community, and communicating their research back to the community and to the Vanuatu supporting organizations. Students will also write an empirical paper summarizing their research. 

*For the full course syllabus, please click here

*Please note that course syllabi are tentative and subject to change.


The application deadline is January 25th, 2023.