UMD: A Globally Connected University

UMD-Winter: Indonesia: Social-Ecological Systems, Environmental Policy, and Sustainable Development (PLCY)

Bali, Indonesia
Java, Indonesia
North Sulawesi, Indonesia
North Sumatra, Indonesia
Terms offered: 
Program Type: 
Credit Type: 
Minimum GPA: 
Non-UMD Students Eligible to Apply: 
Graduate Students Eligible to Apply: 
EA Advisor: 
Language of Instruction: 


Indonesia PUAF group

Indonesian place names like Bali, Java, the Celebes (Sulawesi), the Spice Islands (Moluccas), Papua, Borneo, and Sumatra resonate with exoticism for Westerners. This historical image has its roots, perhaps, in the country’s great and unique diversity and complexity. The Indonesian archipelago’s 17,000 islands comprise one of the most biologically, ethnically, and linguistically diverse countries on the planet, with 600-700 languages, 300 ethnic groups, one of the three great remaining tropical rainforests, and one of the richest marine reef systems in the world. Having declared independence from the Netherlands in 1945, it is a young country that is nonetheless today the third largest democracy in the world (since 2004) and largest Muslim nation, fourth largest country by population, and one of the biggest emerging economies. Indonesia continues to grapple with how to hold its bursting diversity together in a single, modernizing nation in a way that also firmly confronts its problems of greenhouse gas emissions, toleration of diversity, good governance, geopolitical tensions, poverty reduction, and biodiversity conservation. As such, the country is emblematic not simply of its historically exoticized uniqueness, but of the complex global problems we all face in the 21st Century.
This graduate-level international development and environmental policy course examines the systemic interconnections between Indonesia’s environmental challenges and development strategies with a focus on the interface between local governance systems and global policies. Issues explored include deforestation and REDD+, the expansion of oil palm plantations and habitat conservation, indigenous and local resource management, carbon emissions from forest loss and peatland burning, innovative local adaptation measures, the country’s decentralization policy, and democratic development and human rights. Visiting four main destinations – Bali, North Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Java (Jakarta and Bogor) – we pay special attention to indigenous systems and what they can teach us about environmental sustainability, development, security, and climate policy. We study the complex adaptive subak system of rice terraces, irrigation, and water temples in Bali; examine the problem of deforestation and conservation efforts in the Gunung Leuser rainforest in Sumatra, including a two-day hike in dense jungle; visit marine reef habitat and discuss reef management and climate change in the heart of the Coral Triangle in North Sulawesi; and engage in discussions with leading government officials, top research experts, local farmers and fishermen, and NGO and IGO leaders during the trip, with intensive meetings in Jakarta and Bogor. Throughout the course, we explore the rich and fascinating nature and culture of Indonesia – the country’s diverse religions and complex communal traditions, stunning music and theater, ancient temples, beautiful landscapes and biodiversity, and wonderful people.
Itinerary addition: this year, for the first time, the course will include travel to the island of Sulawesi where we will stay in Manado in North Sulawesi. This region is at the heart of the Coral Triangle, perhaps the most marine biodiverse region on earth and also a site of large-scale illegal fishing. While there, we will visit the smaller island reserve of Bunaken to visit its magnificent reef system and we will meet with officers of the Coral Triangle Initiative, a cooperative regional effort to research, maintain, and manage the coral reef system. We will discuss sustainable fisheries management schemes and security at the governmental level and local communal level. We hope also to visit Tangkoko, a national park that is home to some of the unique species of Wallacea, including the tarsier, kijang, knobbed hornbill, ornate lorikeet, and Celebes crested macaque.

For more information, check out the program blog: 

You must be in good academic and judicial standing and you must not have any registration blocks to participate in this program. The minimum GPA for this program is listed above.

UMD and non-UMD seniors and graduate students are eligible to apply. Students should have a general interest in international development, environmental issues, social policy, anthropology, political theory and ethics, and/or international security policy. Particularly welcome are interests in social-ecological systems, rice agriculture and irrigation societies, marine resource management and coral reefs, indigenous peoples' rights, climate change adaptation, REDD+ and other forest management systems, local-national-international governance, wildlife and habitat conservation, sustainable development and local livelihoods.

If you are interested in this program but do not meet the eligibility requirements, reach out to the program director (listed in the Contacts tab) to discuss your interest in the program.

After you commit to the program, Education Abroad will enroll you in the following three (3) credit UMD course:

  • PLCY689I Public Policy Topics: Social-Ecological Systems, Environmental Policy, and Sustainable Development in Indonesia

The credit you earn during this program will count as resident credit.

You are required to participate in two formal class sessions (five hours total), including orientation, prior to departure. There will be extensive pre-program reading assignments.

In Bali and Sumatra we stay in small, locally-owned and operated hotels. We also spend one night camping in the Sumatran rainforest. In Java, we stay at standard, comfortable hotels in the cities of Bogor and Jakarta. Laundry and internet are available in each location, except the jungle.

Costs are current for winter 2018.  

Application Fee $50
Billable Costs
Billable costs are charged to your student account. They are due based on the Bursar's payment schedule. Be sure to check your statements when they are available.
Education Abroad Fee $500
This fee is charged to your account when the application status changes from "Accepted" to "Committed." This fee includes Education Abroad services including registration, billing, advising, risk management, and pre-departure orientation.
International Health Insurance $37
Tuition $1,853
This fee is charged to your UMD account upon course registration. This fee includes: Tuition, in-country transportation, course related activities, group meals, and teaching services.
Housing Fee $700
This fee represents the housing provided during the program.
Out-of-pocket Costs
Meals (estimate) $100
Visa $0
Passport $140
Roundtrip Airfare (estimate) $1,700
Course Materials $30
Optional Activities/incidental expenses $50
Optional trip cancelation/interruption Insurance (estimate) $180

NOTE: If you are a non-UMD graduate student, you will need to pay a $75 application fee to the UMD graduate school to participate in this program.

Please refer to the following resources for more information on funding study abroad

PLEASE NOTE: All University of Maryland study abroad programs are financially self-supporting and, therefore, subject to cancelation due to low enrollment.

Tom Hilde is Research Professor in the School of Public Policy. He teaches courses in Environment & Development, and Environmental Ethics International Environmental Agreements, and Moral Dimensions of Public Policy. He also directs the policy course trip to Peru (the Amazon and Lima) on sustainable development, resource conflict, and human rights. Trained in philosophy, Hilde moved to UMD from New York University, where he directed the Environmental Conservation Education Program and the Applied Philosophy Group, and taught interdisciplinary seminars in environmental politics and ethics, globalization, and international development. He has published the books, The Agrarian Roots of Pragmatism (2000) and On Torture (2008). Hilde was a Fulbright senior scholar in Venezuela in 2005 and Safra Network Fellow at Harvard University during 2014-2015.

For course, itinerary or in-country information, please contact the Program Director. For general questions or assistance with applying, contact EA Short-term Programs.

As a part of this program, you will engage in the following activities:

  • Guest lectures by leading development and environmental experts and officials.
  • Exploration of the natural environment, including activities of jungle trekking and coral reef exploring.
  • Cultural excursions to temples, rice farms, and oil palm plantations.
Term Year Application Deadline Admission Notification Program Start Program End
Winterterm 2018 10/01/2017 10/11/2017 12/28/2017 01/20/2018