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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Restrictions: OSU applicants only.
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Program Description:


Oils to Orangutans Brochure Conversion of tropical forests to oil palm plantations across SE Asia is among the most pressing conservation challenges in the world today. At risk are millions of acres of primary and secondary tropical forests, along with the ecosystem services and wildlife habitat they provide.

This course explores the complex ecological, social, economic and political dimensions of tropical forest conservation through an immersive experience in the tropical forests of Malaysian Borneo with regional conservation leaders. Students will be introduced to the major conservation challenges facing Borneo during several days spent visiting conservation centers in Sepilok, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. There we will learn from conservation scientists working at the Rainforest Discovery Center, Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, and the Bornean Sunbear Conservation Center. From Sepilok the class will transfer via bus and boat to the Danau Girang Field Center, a collaborative research and training facility managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University of Wales. The class will also travel to Danum Valley, a neighboring conservation area. Danau Girang is located inside the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, in the heart of Sabah, and Danum Valley is an inland forest a few hours distant. The center lies within a lowland dipterocarp forest comprised of primary and secondary forest, in a diverse landscape including oil palm plantations, small-scale agriculture, and villages. The Sanctuary is home to ten species of primates, the Bornean elephant, several cat species, the Bornean Sunbear, abundant herpetofauna as well as hundreds of species of birds. While at the field stations, our students will work and learn alongside student interns and researchers from around the world.

Activities will include classroom lectures, field tours, and assistance with the field research of Danau Girang. At Deramakot forest reserve, students will explore forest management for sustainable timber production and discuss the complexities of forest certification. Students will also learn about the social, economic, and ecological impacts of oil palm plantations. At several stages of the program, students will engage with a number of community-based organizations working on issues related to economic development, wildlife/human conflict, environmental protection and education, and cultural preservation.

For a glimpse into last year’s program, please check out this wonderful video created by a recent participant. Click here to visit the College of Forestry's webpage about this program.

Areas of Study

Students will enroll in:

FES 499: Oil Palms and Orangutans Policy (3 cr.) and FWS 499: Oil Palms and Orangutans
Field Study (3 cr.) – or – FES 599: Oil Palms and Orangutans (3 cr.)

Learning Objectives include:
  • Articulate interconnections between local conditions and global ecological, social, political, and economic trends.
  • Apply key concepts of political ecology to the challenges of balancing conservation and community well-being.
  • Demonstrate understanding of fundamental concepts from tropical wildlife ecology and conservation.
  • Demonstrate understanding of your own cultural lenses in contrast to other cultural lenses.
  • Demonstrate ability to compare and contrast U.S. and Malaysian cultural mores, values and perspectives pertaining to conservation and community well-being.


This program is designed for undergraduates and graduates with an interest in conservation, biodiversity, and the human factors which impact forests and wildlife.
  • Minimum of Sophomore standing
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75 or permission of instructor
  • Physical requirements include extensive walking in rainforest field conditions - high temperatures and humidity.

Cost Estimates

Program Cost Estimates

Program Fee $1,630 (undergraduate), $1,500 (graduate)
Tuition [6 credits undergrad COF/ 3 credits graduate] $1,296 (undergraduate), $1,371 (graduate)
Housing Included in Program Fee
Meals (not included in program fee) $70
Accident & Sickness Insurance $40 (approximate)
International Airfare $1,600
Passport (if needed) $135
Visa or Entry/Exit Tax $0
Books & Supplies $0
Local Transportation & Misc. Expenses $100
Total Estimated Expenses $5,099 (undergraduate), $5,134 (graduate)

Additional Info

The Program Leaders are: Ian Munanura and Taal Levi.

For more information, please feel free to contact the Program Leaders and visit: College of Forestry’s Faculty-led Programs.

This program is currently not accepting applications.