Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates
Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Incorporating Bali's subak heritage into primary and secondary education: curriculum development, teacher training, and action research 

PI: Sang Putu Kaler Surata (Mahasaraswati University)
US Partner:  John Stephen Lansing (University of Arizona Tucson)
Project Dates: June 2012 - November 2014

Project Overview 

Indonesia Partnership Picture
UNMAS students interview farmers from Subak Tampaksiring (photo courtesy of Dr. Surata).
The objective of this research is to train future teachers in education for sustainable development. Course materials will be developed to teach primary and secondary students about the agro-ecology of Bali, with an emphasis on the ancient institutions that manage Bali’s celebrated rice terraces: subaks and water temples. Balinese subaks are traditional, community-level religious institutions that manage irrigation water, which is regarded as a gift from the Goddess of the Lakes, and as such is a shared resource. Generations ago, nearly all Balinese children had direct experience of subaks and the agro-ecology of terraced rice, but today the majority of Balinese are no longer farmers, and knowledge of both the ecological and spiritual role of the subaks and water temples is much less accessible. The subak system is also experiencing threats from both land conversion and loss of soil fertility. The subaks and water temples are more than functional institutions; they are widely regarded as a cultural achievement of the Balinese people, and their vulnerability is a frequent topic in Balinese newspapers, television, and seminars. The proposed project is designed to help address these concerns by developing teaching materials about the subaks to be used in both primary and secondary schools in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. Both printed and Web-based instructional materials will be created by teams of future teachers, who will also receive training in the formal evaluation of the pedagogical effectiveness of these materials and methods. Bali’s subaks provide an excellent case study from which to learn about sustainability, resilience and the interaction of humans with the natural environment.

It will also significantly enhance the broader impacts of a National Science Foundation-funded investigation of the resilience of Balinese subaks, by incorporating the results into education for Indonesian school children and by providing structured training in education for sustainable development for a large cohort of future teachers. The major challenge for the project is to develop materials and modules that will be both comprehensive and effective in the context of primary and secondary education in Indonesian public schools. To achieve those goals, the development and assessment of the teaching materials will be carried out by college students at Mahasaraswati University who are seeking certification as primary and secondary school teachers. Thus the project is organized as a series of projects embedded within the teacher training curriculum at Mahasaraswati. The first year’s goal is the creation of teaching materials for different grade levels that encompass all aspects of the subak/water temple system (social, ecological, spiritual, and historical). Students will participate in data collection for the RAPID project in the field, gaining firsthand awareness of the concerns and perceived vulnerabilities of the farmers and temple priests. They will also work in teams to collect historical data, photographs, and oral histories that will provide the raw materials for teaching modules. The second year’s target focuses on assessment and evaluation of the pedagogical value of the instructional materials. The Web-based teaching materials that emerge from this project will made available on the Cultural Landscape of Bali World Heritage web site and in this way help to fulfill the key educational goals of the World Heritage plan for Bali. While the focus of the project is the development of teaching materials for Indonesian school children, some modules will be translated into English and distributed via the World Heritage web site.
Summary of Recent Activities
Indonesia Partnership Picture 2 
Dr. Surata and UNMAS students with farmers from Subak Tampaksiring (photo courtesy of Dr. Surata).
During the third quarter of 2014, Dr. Surata and his team continued and expanded on their efforts to incorporate Subak heritage into the Balinese educational system through multiple workshops and events. Throughout the months of July and August, Dr. Surata held three workshops wherein he shared the student book, one of the core deliverables of his PEER project, with 120 teachers and undergraduates so that they may evaluate its effectiveness as an educational resource and discuss methods of adding it to the existing curriculum.

On July 22, 2014, Dr. Surata was invited by the Pusat Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup Bali (Environmental Education Center Bali) to provide training to 41 teachers on methods to integrate Subak culture into school curriculums. His techniques included the aforementioned student book and other interactive models that were a direct result of his PEER-funded research. The techniques were widely received with enthusiasm from the attending teachers and resulted in constructive discussions on how the Subak heritage could seamlessly be added to the existing educational curriculum.

Kuliah Kerja Nyata (KKN) or Students Field Work is one of the three pillars of higher education in Bali and, as a direct result of Dr. Surata’s project, this KKN focused on Subak heritage and sustainability for the first time since its inception 37 years ago. Approximately 1800 community members, youth groups, teachers, and students participated in the community service outreach over the course of 37 days in a fully immersive Subak cultural experience. This KKN, under Dr. Surata’s guidance, trained and equipped participants with the means to share and teach primary school students sustainability based on their environment and shared heritage.

As the project winds down, Dr. Surata will spend the coming months concluding his activities. In November, he will present his project at the Asia Engage Conference and submit papers to both the International Journal of Art and Humanity Science and the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal.
Back to PEER Cycle 1 Grant Recipients