Sustainability Course

Conservation and Development in Borneo: Strategies Toward Sustainability

 (Offered Summer 2013)


Indonesia is endowed with some of the most extensive and biologically diverse forests on the planet and the third largest extent of tropical forests in the world. Indonesia is also culturally rich, with over 300 ethnic groups, speaking over 500 languages across a network of over 17,000 islands. Economic growth has allowed Indonesia to make progress in reducing poverty, but this progress has come at great ecological cost. The country now finds itself at the center of a global environmental crisis as 28 million hectares of Indonesian forest cover was lost between 1990 and 2005. Borneo alone lost an estimated 60% of its forests and could lose its remaining forests within decades. 


How does a country like Indonesia develop without sacrificing its unparalleled biological and cultural diversity? This course will seek to answer this question by exploring conservation and development issues in a remote Dayak community. Hands-on experience will be blended with sustainability science and resilience theory, emerging fields dealing with collective action problems and challenges to sustainably using common pool resources. Students will live with the Wehea Dayak in the village of Nehas Liah Bing and become part of the Wehea Dayak family. Additionally, students will visit palm oil plantations, limestone caves, other Dayak villages and the remote Wehea Forest. Classroom sessions will include discussion of key peer-reviewed literature, lectures, guest speakers, and group work. This course provides an essential foundation for students interested in conservation, international development or environmental resource management.


Students in this course will live with a family in the Wehea village of Nehas Liah Bing and participate in daily village life, including traditional ceremonies and agricultural activities. Living conditions are basic, clean and comfortable and all meals are taken with the field school class. While in the village, students may have the opportunity to take part in the construction of the Wehea Conservation Center, a collaborative EE/Wehea initiative that will serve as the hub of conservation in the region.


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