Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change


Coursework in this program focuses on the connections between contemporary Indonesian society, politics, and economy with the historical traditions apparent in everyday life, be it urban, village, or rural. Coursework puts the experience of being in Bali in historical context, especially with regard to its special history as an island that was brought under the influence of Dutch colonialism very late (1846 for North Bali, 1909 for South Bali), and never lost its unique form of Hinduism. Through a combination of 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 very different set of personal and social points of orientation that are in the background of Balinese life but serve as determining factors in their sense of self and society. 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 the ways in which the arts fit into these patterns. Students explore the deeply seated Balinese notion of a constant interplay between physical/visible reality and a metaphysical/non-visible world of energies that is believed to exist alongside the visible world, and to condition the visible world in ways that often require ritual or healing interventions.

The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming session. 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 (PDF)
(ASIA 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class 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, especially in urban settings, 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.

Intensive Language Study: Bahasa Indonesia – syllabus (PDF)
(INDO 1000–1500 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Bahasa Indonesia (coming soon)
(INDO 2000–2500 / 6 Credits / 90 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Bahasa Indonesia (coming soon)
(INDO 3000–3500 / 6 Credits / 90 class 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 (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class 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.

Independent Study Project – syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class 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; 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.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Bedulu, central southern Bali

Language Study: Bahasa Indonesia,  Balinese

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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