Program Description

The Ethical Expeditions Borneo Field School is designed for undergraduate students to gain practical research experience in Ecology and Conservation in one of the world’s environmental hotspots. Students of the 2012 Borneo Field School have the unique opportunity to live in the Wehea Dayak community of Nehas Liah Bing and explore the flora and fauna of the remote Wehea Forest. For five weeks, students will explore the pristine Wehea Forest, a biodiversity hotspot, home to orangutan, clouded leopard and sun bear. All students start the field school together in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan and travel overland to Wehea, where they learn about real-world conservation and development issues. While in the field, students will learn directly from scientists, local leaders, rangers and NGO’s who are working to solve the complex challenge of protecting the remaining biological and cultural diversity on our planet.

I feel much more empowered to go home and make change, fight for these things, and try to help save and protect these places we’ve seen. This field school impacted the way I think about possibilities, priorities and education. Thanks for a life changing experience.” – 2010 Field School Student

Course Offering

IND 30xx: Field Techniques in Tropical Ecology Research

Why is this field school unique?

Students of the Borneo 2012 Field School will be directly involved in an indigenous conservation initiative in Borneo. In 2004, the Wehea Dayak declared a 38,000 ha forest, the last remaining forest in their homeland, protected under traditional ‘adat’ law. This forest is monitored and patrolled by fifty local young people, called the Petkuq Mehuey, or forest guardians. Their conservation efforts earned the Wehea Dayak Indonesia’s highest environmental honor. Wehea tribal leaders are committed to developing an indigenous conservation model that other communities can learn from and replicate. Ethical Expeditions has been privileged to work with the Wehea Dayak community since 2009. 


In the face of global environmental change, new approaches are needed to solve complex conservation and development issues. Solutions must be interdisciplinary and need to draw upon research in both the social and natural sciences. The curriculum of the Ethical Expeditions Field School is designed to prepare students to solve environmental challenges that are complex and uncertain. Students will be immersed in current research pertinent to the issues we are exploring and will work directly with experts in the field. An individual research project will be conducted by each student and presented in the form of a research paper or policy brief. Students will communicate their research through social media, presentations and writings. 

“The field course has given me the opportunity to network across various disciplines, expand my knowledge, and develop friendships that will last a lifetime. Thank you so much!” – 2011 Field School Student 

Opening Doors

The 2012 Borneo Field School may open doors for motivated students. Students will be working with experts in the field, leading to possible future employment and/or topics for graduate school research. Field school alumni have returned to conduct independent research in Wehea and pursued careers in the conservation and development field. 

“This field school was truly a special experience. The village of Nehas Liah Bing welcomed us with open arms and soon we were part of the big family. I now care deeply about what happens to Nehas Liah Bing in the coming years.” – 2011 Field School Student