Oil Palms and Orangutans: Forest Conservation in Malaysian Borneo

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The NEXT OFFERING is anticipated to be Summer 2022, with applications opening Fall 2021.


Conversion of tropical forests to oil palm plantations across SE Asia is among the most pressing conservation challenges in the world today. Dive into the complex ecological, social, economic, and political dimensions of tropical forest conservation in Malaysian Borneo.

Students will be introduced to the major conservation challenges facing Borneo while traveling around the Malaysian state of Sabah. Students will learn during several days spent visiting conservation centers like the Rainforest Discovery Center, the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, and the Bornean Sunbear Conservation Center. The class will also visit the Danum Valley Field Center, located in the Danum Valley Conservation Area, which consists of more than 400 square kilometers of pristine tropical rainforest. The forest became conservation area before industry moved in, making the ecosystem extremely unique and highly biodiverse. Planning is underway to explore further forest and wildlife management within two major forest reserves, and to learn about the social, economic, and ecological impacts of oil palm plantations. Finally, arrangements are being made to expose students to a number of community-based organizations working in the Kota Kinabalu area on issues related to economic development, environmental protection, community health, education, and cultural preservation.

Following this course, students may stay on in Borneo for 1-2 months as interns in a field of their choosing; opportunities are available in field research, environmental education, community development, wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, forest management, and more. Contact cof.international@oregonstate.edu for more information on internships. You can utilize financial aid and earn credit for these internships!

Space for this program is limited so be sure to apply early!


Learn about one student's experience in Borneo on our CoF International blog!


Faculty-led programs are available to ALL OSU STUDENTS.