Globalization of Education

Balinese Temples, Komodo Dragons, and Liquid Hot Magma
January 4 – 18, 2017

Indonesia is made up of over 18,000 islands that straddle the equator, spanning nearly 1,800 miles. This country contains two of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots and the third largest area of tropical rainforest in the world. Over 50 national parks and other protected lands harbor iconic species such as flying frogs, orangutan, birdwing butterflies, elephants, and birds of paradise. Beyond the forest, Indonesia has 34,000 miles of coastline and an abundance of freshwater wetlands and rivers bearing high fish and invertebrate diversity. In a country of over 250 million people, forests and water represent important sources of livelihood for many Indonesians and finding a balance between use and conservation of these resources has become increasingly complex. Importantly, visiting Indonesia permits the study of the ecozones of Asia and Wallacea. The division between those ecozones is known as Wallace’s Line which separates organisms related to Indomalayan species to the west of the line from a distinctly different mixture of species of Australasian and Pacific Island origin to the eat. Finally, Indonesia is a land of active volcanoes and powerful earthquakes and geologic hazards are part of the life of many millions of Indonesian people. We will investigate geologic hazards together with the dynamics of resource use and biodiversity conservation on both sizes of Wallace’s Line on the islands of Bali, Java, Lombok ad Komodo. 


Students will earn 3 URI credits for NRS 491: Independent Study or GEO 491: Independent Study.

This program is open to students in all disciplines and will be co-taught by Dr. Nancy Karraker (Natural Resources Science) and Dr. Tom Boving (Geological Sciences). Students may speak to the program director (Dr. Karraker) about alternative codes. Orientation sessions will be held prior to departure, and readings and other materials will be made available on Sakai. There is no foreign language requirement, but students will have an opportunity to learn some basic Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) during the class. Please note that this class will be held largely in rural areas and will have a significant field component; students may be conducting field work during rainy or hot weather.

During this program, graduate and undergraduate students will study the challenges faced by many countries in balancing environment and economy, but will do so in Indonesia, a country that is hyper-rich in natural resources and economic opportunity. The objectives of this J-Term course are to: (1) introduce students to key factors threatening biodiversity and water in Indonesia with field-based examples on the Indonesian islands of Bali, Lombok, and Komodo; (2) visit an active volcano on the island of Java to learn about geologic hazards; (3) Explore the cultures and religions of a highly diverse tropical country; and (4) Study effects of ocean pollution on water quality and tourism. This course will be conducted in collaboration with the Universitas Islam Indonesia in Yogjakarta on Java and Mataram university on Lombok, Indonesia.


We will fly from Boston to the island of Bali; located 8 degrees south of the equator. In contrast to the predominantly Islamic Indonesia, most Balinese adhere to Hinduism. Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species on Earth. In this area alone over 500 reef building coral species can be found, which is about 7 times as many as in the entire Caribbean. The 1963 eruption of the volcano Mount Agung (9,944 ft) killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many Balinese to leave the island. Since then the island has transformed into one of the World’s most desirable tourist destinations. While in Bali we will experience it’s renowned arts scene, including visiting traditional dance, sculpture, painting, metalworking, and music art shops. Because of over-exploitation by tourist industry, 200 out of 400 rivers on the island have dried up and the southern art of Bali is facing severe clean water shortages. We will hear first-hand from experts about this problem. 

We will then take a ferry ride to the island of Java, which lies 2 miles west of Bali. Java is home to more than half of the Indonesian population, and is the most populous island on Earth. Formed mostly as the result of volcanic eruptions, Java is the 13th largest island in the world. A chain of volcanic mountains forms an east-west spine along the island and we climb one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. That volcano rises from the ocean and visiting it will give is an opportunity to study Javanese ecosystems ranging from coastal mangrove forests to low-lying tropical forests to high altitude rain forests on the slopes of the volcano. Java was the first place where Indonesian coffee was grown, starting in 1699. 

From Java we return to Bali and then move to the east, crossing the Lombok strait which separates Bali from the island of Lombok. The strait marks the bio geographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan and Australasian ecozones. We will investigate the different natural environment east of Wallace’s Line. Lombok’s topography is dominated by the centrally-located volcano Mount Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia. The highlands of Lombok are forest clad and mostly undeveloped. The lowlands are highly cultivated. Lombok also serves as take-off point for visiting the Komodo Island, home of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth, and a species of great conservation concern. After returning to Bali, where you can shop and enjoy excellent beaches, we will fly back to Boston. 

Accommodations and Meals:

Students will stay in double-occupancy hotel rooms, where available, breakfast will be provided. Students will be responsible for lunch and dinner (~$20 per day) and may need to pay for some cultural activities. 

Program Cost: TBA

Program Fee Includes:

  • Round-trip airfare*
  • Accommodations
  • Breakfast
  • In-country transportation
  • Excursions and cultural activities
  • Health insurance

NOTE: All fees subject to change.

*Students can opt to travel with the group or individually.

Program Deadlines:

Application Deadline: TBA

Final Payment Due: TBA

Important Requirement: Students are required to complete an Indonesia Questionnaire along with their application.


For more information, please contact:

Program Director
Nancy Karraker
Natural Resources Science

Program Director
Tom Boving
Department of Geology

URI Faculty-Led Programs
37 Lower College Road
International Center

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