Examine the important roles played by Indonesia’s arts and six officially recognized religions in shaping sociocultural discourses in Bali and Java.
Live and study in Tabanan in west central Bali.
Tabanan is known for its beautiful rice terraces, black sand beaches, temples, and distinctive art forms. In 2010, UNESCO officially recognized Subak Jatiluwih—the beautifully terraced rice fields—as a World Heritage site. The program center is in an ancient palace known as Puri Saren Kangin. Here, you will visit Tanah Lot Temple and witness the purification ceremony held there. You may also visit a museum about Subak, Bali’s irrigation organization, where you can see traditional tools used by farmers before the modernization of Bali’s rice production, and area temples, including those dedicated to the goddess Danu, the Lake Goddess, who is said to irrigate the rice fields. You may also visit Tanah Lot Temple, a public temple situated on a rocky outcropping on the coast. The fresh holy spring water bubbling from the rock under the foot of temple is the source of tirtha (holy water) for all Balinese.
Do independent research in social sciences or an arts practicum.
For your Independent Study Project, you have the option to complete a research-based paper covering an aspect of Indonesian art, religion, and/or society or to work with professional Indonesian artists in an arts practicum.
Witness Indonesia’s arts up close.
Field-based activities are central to the program. You will witness religious and cultural ceremonies including processions to the river, the making of tall and beautiful handmade rice ornaments, and dance performances lasting late into the night. You may purchase pakaian adat, the beautiful Balinese clothing to wear to religious ceremonies.
Enjoy activities and excursions with Indonesian peers.
In Java, Indonesian peers are invited to participate in program activities such as interfaith dialogues and intercultural social events. Local students from Udayana and Warmadewa universities participate in the village excursion to Tabanan. This gives both groups of students a wonderful opportunity to share the surprises of village life and to get to know one other in an informal atmosphere. Indonesian students will partner with their SIT peers in a joint field-study assignment to conduct interviews and gain primary data for an analytical paper. This will give you an opportunity to practice carrying out interviews in a cross-cultural setting.
Travel throughout Java and Bali.
Visit ancient temples and see street art during three weeks in Java. Spend several days in a rural farming village in Bali and learn about agricultural practices, traditional Balinese medicine, and gamelan music. Explore the mountains of central Bali on a three- to four-day excursion and discover the island’s geographical and cultural diversity.
Choose between an Independent Study Project and an internship.
Immerse yourself in the traditions and interpretations of Hindu and Islamic religions and cultures.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- The dynamic ways in which Balinese traditional arts, social networks, and the environment are changing in conjunction with the opportunities and pressures of globalization
- Current debates on the future of Balinese culture and society in relation to global pressures such as increased development and international tourism
- The ancient roots of Javanese and Balinese culture and the history of the republican movement that led to the formation of modern Indonesia
- How religion, society, and the arts have developed side by side on each island
- Land, water, ethnic identity, and the environment in relation to tourism in Bali
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Ni Wayan Ariati (Bu Ary), PhD, Academic Director
Ary holds a PhD from Charles Darwin University of Darwin, Australia. She comes from a small rice-farming community in the Tabanan region of Bali and is still involved in the social and religious life of her native town. She completed her BA in English literature and linguistics at Udayana University in Denpasar in 1988 and joined SIT Indonesia’s language teaching staff in 1991. She received a Fulbright grant in 1996 to teach the Indonesian language at Arizona State University’s South East Asian Summer Study Institute (SEASSI). She was coordinator of SEASSI until 1997, when she moved to Darwin, Australia, to teach Indonesian there. She returned to SIT 1999, serving as academic director in Bali and in other roles in Samoa and India. Her experiences in North India her desire to make a comparative study of female images in the Hinduism of India and Bali, which led to her doctoral work at Charles Darwin University (CDU), where she completed her dissertation in history and women’s studies titled “Journey of a Goddess: Durga in India, Java and Bali.” Her published articles include “Theodicy in Paradise” (Journal of the South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion, New Delhi, June 2010).
Edward Trisna (Edo), Program Assistant
Edo studied English language and literature at Udayana University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2009. He joined the SIT Study Abroad program in Bali as a program assistant in fall 2014. He previously worked for several event organizers from 2007 until 2014 and was involved in international conferences and events in Bali, Jakarta, and Surabaya.
Language Program Coordinator and Staff
The intensive Indonesian language course is taught by highly qualified instructors who graduated from the Udayana University Denpasar, Bali. They are the authors of Bahasa Indonesia for Beginners, used exclusively on the SIT Study Abroad Bali program.
I Made Yudiana (Pak Yudi), Language Coordinator
Yudi joined the SIT program in Bali in 2001. He completed his BA in English at Udayana University the following year. Before joining SIT in Bali, he worked for many years in the NGO field, especially for Bali Hati, an NGO specializing in educational support for children of lower income families in Gianyar and Badung regencies. Yudi devotes much of his free time to mastering English and often provides assistance to local institutions delivering English language courses to native speakers of Indonesian.
I Made Joni Jatmika (Jo), Language Instructor
Jo holds a master’s degree in linguistics with a concentration in translation study from Udayana University in Bali (2011–2015), and she obtained a bachelor’s degree from the English Department Faculty of Letters at Udayana University (2002–2006). She also completed a program in multimedia and design from the New Media Interactive Computer College (2007–2008).
Utei Charaleghy Pamphila (Ella), Language Instructor
Ella joined the SIT program in Bali in 2014. She earned her BA in English language and literature and her master’s degree in linguistics from Udayana University. During her time as a student, she taught English to Indonesian students for about five years. She developed her intercultural communication competence as a translator and interpreter in the Indian Consulate General for two years. Her experience in learning, teaching, and translating English has contributed to her understanding of the language-learning process faced by foreign students.
Other lecturers include:
Mohammad Iqbal Ahnaf, PhD, Lecturer
Mohammed holds a BA in Islamic theology from the State Islamic University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; an MA in comparative religious studies from the Centre for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia; an MA in conflict transformation from the Centre for Justice and Peace-building, Eastern Mennonite University, US, as a Fulbright grantee; and a PhD in public policy from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He trained in automated text analysis at Social Science Automation Inc., Ohio, US. He was an intern at the Search for Common Ground, US; a country representative at Asian Muslim Action Network; a peacebuilding trainer for Indonesian activists at Eastern Mennonite University; and an analyst for the Security Monitor Program at Victoria University. He studies how Islamist movements change in a democratic context and has facilitated interfaith programs. He is researching multi-religious coexistence in Indonesia.
Baskara T. Wardaya, PhD, Lecturer
Baskara is a professor of history at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He holds a master’s degree and a PhD in history from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He researches post-independence Indonesia, particularly the 1965 anti-communist purge and its international context and impact. He has published several books on the topic. Since 1998, he has conducted archival research in US libraries. As Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the University of California-Riverside (2011–2012) he did archival research at the Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan Libraries.
Siti Syamsiyatun, PhD, Lecturer
Siti earned her master’s degree in Islamic studies from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and her doctorate in politics from Monash University, Australia. She is associate director of the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies Yogya and a lecturer at State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, where she is a member of the Center for Women’s Studies. From 2006 to 2008, she was director of the university’s International Office. In 2009, she was a Fellow of the Asian University Leader Program. In 2008, she was a Fulbright Visiting Specialist at the College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho. She specializes in Islamic and gender studies and teaches at ICRS-Yogya and UIN Sunan Kalijaga.
Olivier Pouillon, Lecturer
Olivier was an SIT Bali student in 1991. His Independent Study Project was on Bali’s public transportation system. Olivier worked for the Wisnu Foundation, Bali’s first locally established Indonesian environmental organization, from 1994 to 1998. He established the first professional waste management system on the island, PT Jimbaran Lestari, and Bali Recycling, the first fully licensed waste management, recycling, and hazardous waste processing facility in Bali. Olivier is married to an Indonesian woman and has two children.
Coursework in this program focuses on the connections between contemporary Indonesian society, politics, and economy with the historical traditions apparent in everyday life—urban, village, or rural. Coursework offers historical context for Bali, especially regarding the late influence of Dutch colonialism, and Bali’s unique form of Hinduism. Through thematic seminars, language study, field studies, and educational excursions, the program introduces students to the historical, political, and economic (tourism, oil, international investment, and agriculture) conditions of everyday life in Bali, Java, and Indonesia.
Coursework also aims to assist students in understanding the personal and social orientations in the background of Balinese life. These include the relationship between the self and the geophysical world, social relationships, and the relationship to the calendar that determines rituals, an important part of Balinese life.
Students examine how the arts fit into these patterns. They explore the deep-seated Balinese notion of constant interplay between physical/visible reality and a metaphysical/non-visible world of energies, an interplay that often requires ritual or healing interventions.
Institutions the program works with include:
- The Faculty of Letters of Udayana University in Denpasar, Bali
- The Faculty of Philosophy of Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Central Java
- The Faculty of Letters of Warmadewa University, Denpasar, Bali
- Universitas Sanata Darma (Sadar)
- Institute of Arts of Indonesia (ISI)
- Institute of Hindu Dharma Indonesia
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Arts, Religion, and Social Change Seminar – syllabus
- (ASIA3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- An interdisciplinary course conducted in English, with required readings, that draws connections between contemporary Indonesian society, politics, and economy with the historical traditions apparent in everyday life, be it urban, village, or rural. Students also explore the dynamic ways in which Balinese identity and traditional arts are changing, in response to the pressures of globalization and increased Balinese engagement with global networks. Lecturers are drawn from institutions such as the Faculty of Letters of Udayana University, Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and local NGOs. Educational excursions are an integral part of this course, and attendance at evening and weekend temple ceremonies and performances is sometimes required.
- Bahasa Indonesia – syllabus
- (INDO1006-1506 / 6 credits / 90 hours)
- Bahasa Indonesia – syllabus
- (INDO2006-2506 / 6 credits / 90 hours)
- Bahasa Indonesia – syllabus
- (INDO3006-3506 / 6 credits / 90 hours)
- Emphasis on beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Instructors are faculty of Udayana University in Denpasar. Classes are taught three to four hours daily. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes. Balinese or Javanese language instruction is available for students with full competence in Indonesian.
- Field Methods and Ethics – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- A course in the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience and an introduction to the Independent Study Project. Topics include cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a work journal.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
- Internship and Seminar – syllabus
- (ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. A focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issue focus and overall program theme. The internship course includes a module designed to help students build a foundation on which to engage in the internship experience.
- Independent Study Project – syllabus
- (ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- Conducted at an approved location in Bali, Java, and other parts of Indonesia appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: the ritual significance of gamelan music and Balinese dance; contemporary youth culture and street art; painting in the Ramayana tradition; the social-political relation of government and religion; environmental challenges of global tourism; the representation of myth in public art; traditional healing arts and modern medicine; the export of Balinese culture via tourism; traditional village life and governance; gender and economic change; irrigation management in rural Bali; the aesthetics of religious tradition in Bali; the role of women in contemporary Islamic communities of Java.
Program in a minute-ish
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Educational excursions and field visits to foundations and NGOs engaged in contemporary social challenges in Bali complement and enhance classroom study and fieldwork. The program includes visits to historic and cultural sites, temple festivals, and other religious rituals, performances, and local ceremonies outside the program’s base.
Java: History, Islam, and the Arts
You will spend two weeks in Java, the most populous island in Indonesia and home to a majority Muslim population. Java is the original home of tempe and batik textiles. While in Yogyakarta, you will make a batik T-shirt of your own design with experts, and see a ballet version of the Hindu epic the Ramayana. Yogyakarta is the site of some of the most famous ancient temples of Southeast Asia.
In Java, you will have easy access to lecturers from universities such as Universitas Gadjah Mada and Universitas Sanata Darma and to the intellectual and artist communities of Yogyakarta. Lectures and excursions will focus on the major religions and philosophies in the area, the court arts of Java, and how social change is expressed through the arts and education in Islamic schools and universities. You will also visit Islamic boarding schools and see examples of street art forms.
This excursion includes visits to Borobudur and Prambanan, important Buddhist and Hindu monuments, and homestays with Javanese families who are mostly Muslims.
You will spend between four and six days in a farming village in the Tabanan district of Bali, one of the leading regions for rice production. In Tabanan, you will have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and the unique practices of subak societies, which govern rice-field irrigation. You may choose to test your own rice planting skills, learn about traditional medicines, prepare a traditional Balinese feast, play sports with village children, or learn Indonesia’s peculiar and widely influential traditional music, gamelan. You may also learn how to make traditional medicine after a lecture on traditional healers and medicine in Bali. You can also make coconut oil and coconut bowls as part of the optional activities.
This excursion is an excellent opportunity to examine how the arts are configured in traditional rural settings of Bali, where religious activities are still closely tied to agricultural cycles and rhythms. You will also have a chance to see intergenerational continuity and change in contemporary cultural practices in a North Bali village. A highlight of this excursion is the opportunity to meet Indonesian university students from the English language programs of Udayana University and Warmadewa University in Denpasar.
In the village, you will conduct an interview to gain primary data for your thematic seminar paper on a topic related to your Independent Study Project (ISP). This assignment will help you develop interviewing skills and reveal challenges and problems that might arise during your ISP.
This three- or four-day excursion will take you to the mountains of central Bali and along the north and east (or sometimes west) coast. In the fishing village Sangsit, you will meet Muslim and Hindu community leaders and villagers for a roundtable discussion on the religious and cultural diversity of the north coast. This discussion will be followed by an excursion to Chinese temples, a Buddhist monastery, and the mosque at Sangsit.
This excursion will give you an exceptional opportunity to see Bali’s geographic and cultural diversity. In the mountainous area of the Kintamani ridge, you may stop at Sukawana, a Balinese village that maintains an old form of social organization based on an “age hierarchy.” You may also visit one of the village’s major temples. If weather permits, you can climb Mount Batur, the second largest mountain in Bali.
Denpasar and Udayana University
After the excursion to Yogyakarta, you will focus on social change, current issues, and the environment and tourism in Bali. You will have lectures at Udayana University and stay in a hostel in the Denpasar area; the program will also visit conservation projects around Sanur. You will have opportunities to interact with the Indonesian and Balinese students who joined the group during the village visit.
You can take advantage of the excursion in Denpasar to make contacts for your Independent Study Project, reaching out to the journalists, intellectuals, and artists who work in the area.
Though the city lacks skyscrapers, Denpasar is decidedly urban, and you will have the opportunity to explore the city’s bookstores and shopping centers, observing how business operates outside Bali’s central tourist zone.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
Homestays give you a special window into the values, lives, and activities of Hindu Balinese and Muslim Javanese societies and provide additional context for language and thematic coursework. Balinese families typically live in “house-yards,” family compounds that consist of a variety of buildings with open space between. You will discover the details of the Balinese home, including the role of the family shrine, the living quarters, and spaces for rituals or special guests. In contrast, Javanese Muslim families typically live in one building, and all the activities are carried out in that house.
The primary homestay for this program is in the village of Kerambitan, a short walk from the program’s classrooms. Through this homestay experience, you will have extraordinary opportunities to observe daily life and participate in the arts and social practices of the village. Kerambitan families, similar to most Balinese families, are tight-knit and welcoming. You may get to join your host family at a wedding, tooth filing, or other life-cycle ritual, and you will see an odalan, or anniversary ceremony, at a local temple. Students often forge strong connections with their homestay family, and many remain in contact after the program.
You will begin your Kerambitan homestay at the end of the orientation period and will return to your homestay between excursions and for the last few days of the evaluation period. The length of stay with your Balinese family—approximately five weeks spread over the entire program period—will provide you with an exceptional opportunity to become closely acquainted with your homestay family members.
Rural Homestay (Tabanan Area)
You will stay in rural Tabanan for four to five nights. You will experience the area’s strong sense of community while staying with village families, most of whom live in large compounds housing several families from a single descent group.
You will live with a host family in Yogyakarta for ten days as part of the group excursion to Java. The homestay families in Java are predominantly Muslim, which will allow you to become familiar with the predominant religious culture in Indonesia. During the stay, you will be invited to participate in socio-religious activities and gatherings. The Javanese families are very welcoming to SIT students. They are proud to host students from the United States, the home country of Barack Obama, who spent part of his youth in Jakarta, west Java; there is a museum near campus where visitors can see Obama’s bedroom when he was student.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels or small hotels.
You can choose between an ISP and an internship.
If you choose to complete an internship, during the last four weeks of this program you will be placed with an organization in Indonesia to gain work experience and develop professional skills. SIT internships are hands on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper about your learning experience on the job and analyzing an issue important to the organization you worked with. You may also design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.
- Assisting efforts to help street children at Yayasan Kasih Peduli Anak
- Practicing the art of batik at Mustokaweni
- Protecting turtles with the Bali Turtle Conservation Project
- Working in an Islamic boarding school
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You will dedicate the last month of the program to conducting primary research on an Independent Study Project (ISP) on a topic you select. This individual research project allows you to apply the concepts and skills of your experience-based learning in the Field Methods and Ethics seminar and your interdisciplinary coursework while exploring a topic of particular significance to you.
Student ISPs on this program have been many and varied over the years, including those based on arts practica and the social sciences. In the social sciences, students have produced high quality works on topics including:
- Balinese rural women’s reproductive health issues
- Local responses to illegal land use
- The social and ritual organization of “original Balinese” villages in Balinese highland areas
- Street art and youth culture
- The ritual significance of gamelan music and Balinese dance
- Tourism and the environment
- The export of Balinese culture via tourism
- Modern arts of Java and Bali
- Gender minority in Java
- The role of women in contemporary Islamic communities of Java
- Life at Pesantren, an Islamic boarding school
Some students have elected to do the arts practicum ISP, for which they have worked with a wide variety of local experts in performing, textile, musical, and fine arts. In many cases students have established a lasting artistic and personal rapport with their local partners that has led to the development of innovative artistic approaches. Many projects have been beneficial to both SIT students and their Balinese/Indonesian teachers and peers.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Founder of Bali Recycling, Bali, Indonesia
- Researcher at the Institute of Ethnology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
- English teacher at Madrasah High School, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
- Fulbright fellow teaching English at Semarang High School
- Producer for the National Geographic Channel
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Balinese arts
- Cultural anthropology
- History and politics
- Geography and economics
- Practicum: students receive instruction in a traditional Balinese craft or art form
- Field Methods and Ethics on research methods and Human Subjects Review
- All educational excursions to locations such as historic and cultural sites, temple festivals, and local ceremonies in the Ubud, Tabanan, and Denpasar areas of Bali and two weeks’ excursion in Yogyakarta Central Java, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Intensive language instruction in Bahasa Indonesia
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,350
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Kerambitan), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project or internship, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays (five weeks in villages in the Kerambitan area, ten days with families in Yogyakarta, a four-day rural homestay with university student partners in Tabanan, and two days in rural northern Bali)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $160
Books & Supplies: $ 50
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.