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Active - JAN 190: The Web of Life on the Island of the Gods: Nature & Culture in Bali
Munduk, Indonesia; Pemuteran, Indonesia; Tampaksiring, Indonesia; Ubud, Indonesia (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Jan Term
Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: SMC-CA applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Jan Term 2018 12/01/2017 12/01/2017 TBA TBA
Program Description:
Course Title:The Web of Life on the Island of the Gods: Nature & Culture in BaliCourse ID:JAN 190Instructors:Kenneth WorthyContact Email:kaw9@stmarys-ca.eduLocation:

All in Bali, Indonesia: the villages of Tampaksiring (hills), Munduk (mountains), Pemuteran (northern seacoast), and Ubud (central plains).

Course Description:

This course studies the nexus of nature and culture in Bali, where the two realms overlap, mirror, and infuse each other in intriguing ways to sustain people and their environments alike. We’ll survey the interconnections emerging from Bali’s holistic metaphysics, manifest in effigies of the goddess Dewi Sri that punctuate the island’s famous rice terraces; in religious beliefs about spirits animating the landscape; in shadow puppet performances that bring daily experiences into conversation with ancient myths; and in complex irrigation works managed ingeniously by subaks, organizations overseen by priests. Magic mediates between people and nature in Bali, but we’ll learn how the island’s rapid yet inflected modernization is (partially) replacing the mysterious with modern science and economics. We’ll attend to the challenges and opportunities created by tourism. Students will blog and journal their intellectual and emotional responses during the course.

Talks and demonstrations by local experts in land use, agriculture, religion, ecology, food, the arts, and shamanism will augment lectures and readings. Performances, rituals, ceremonies, discussions with farmers, hikes through riparian corridors and agroecosystems, and a visit to Bali’s national park, including rainforest treks and two snorkeling trips, will ground our understandings. We’ll settle in four locations: a retreat near the hill town of Tampaksiring; the mountain village of Munduk, known for its performing arts and cocoa, coffee, and clove plantations; the seaside town of Pemuteran, near Bali’s national park and major coral reefs; and Ubud, an artistic and cultural center. Participants must be willing and able to tolerate humid tropical weather and occasionally uncomfortable conditions.

Division:Upper DivisionPrerequisites:

Permission of instructor AND (a) experience studying a foreign language or culture OR (b) significant prior international travel experience. Students must be active and fit enough to be comfortable participating in vigorous physical activities in a tropical environment and sometimes pushing through tiredness to maintain an active daily schedule of events throughout most of the course.

Informational Meetings:

Attendance at one of the following meetings is mandatory for enrollment (contact instructor if you have conflicts): 

Thursday 9/8, 3:00-4:30pm, Dante 204

Thursday 9/8, 6:00-7:30pm, Dante 204

?Saturday 9/17, 2:00-3:30pm, Dante 204


Post-enrollment meetings / mini-retreats:

Thu, Oct 6, 6–7:30pm (Location TBA)

Sat, Oct 15, 1–7pm (Location TBA)

Sat, Nov 12, 1–7pm (Location TBA)

Sat, Dec 10, 1–7pm (Location TBA)

Reading List:

Miguel Covarrubias: Island of Bali

Fred B. Eiseman, Jr.: Bali: Sekala & Niskala, volumes 1 & 2

J. Stephen Lansing and William C. Clark: Priests and Programmers: Technologies of Power in the Engineered Landscape of Bali [selections]

David Abram, “The Ecology of Magic” from The Spell of the Sensuous

Adrian Vickers, “Introduction” from Bali: A Paradise Created

Kenneth Worthy, “Preface” and “Introduction” from Invisible Nature

J. Stephen Lansing & Thérèse A. de Vet, “The Functional Role of Balinese Water Temples: A Response to Critics” Hum Ecol

Selections from

Tony Whitten, Roehayat Soeriaatmadja, Suraya Afiff: The Ecology of Java and Bali, Volume II of The Ecology of Indonesia Series, Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, 1996. (separate electronic document, ebook)

Basis for Final Grade:

Attendance and quality of attention and participation in discussions and activities (40%)
Journal & blog (40%)
Final exam (20%)

Course Fee Per Student:$4,000Description of What the Course Fee Covers:

This cost covers: SFO-Bali round-trip airfare; all lodging; most meals; ground transportation in Bali; retreat facilities; travel insurance including emergency medical evacuation; workshop & guest speaker honoraria; performance entrance fees; mandatory temple vestments; most drinking water; tips for speakers, drivers, & guides; some snacks; and most other necessary expenses.

Dates Traveling:

Approx. 1/6–2/4

Dates on Campus:

Only the pre-travel meetings, Fall 2016.