Innovative field trip course wins international award

16 May 2019
Class shot
Some of PLAN3200/PLAN7200's 2018 cohort upon arrival in Yogyakarta.

A hands-on field trip course, exploring development problems in Indonesia, has won a major international award for curriculum innovation.

The University of Queensland course – PLAN3200/PLAN7200: Exploring Development Complexities in Indonesia – was recently awarded a Curriculum Innovation Award by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (USA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (USA).

The course has run annually since 2015, taking an average of 30 students per year to Indonesia, and is coordinated by Dr Sonia Roitman, Associate Professor Ron Johnstone and Dr Karen McNamara.

Dr Roitman, from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, was thrilled to receive the news.

“We’re extremely proud – every year we can see the positive impact this course has had for students, whilst forging amazing relationships in Yogyakarta,” she said.

“The three course coordinators and our involved partners, including UQ administration, have put in a big effort over the last four years we’ve run this course, so it’s wonderful to be recognised.

“The award honours excellence in the teaching and design of learning experiences that are accessible, engaging, and effective for all students.

“While recognising educators who develop and implement courses to help prepare future planners to solve economic, social, and environmental challenges facing communities worldwide.”

The subject takes UQ students to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where they spend two weeks in the field working with planning students from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), learning from urban and rural communities about real-life development problems.

“The fact that the students are not in the classroom makes a huge difference, as they can see the direct application of the knowledge and skills they’ve gained through their studies,” Dr Roitman said.

“And UQ students love working hand-in-hand with Indonesian students, sharing not just knowledge about the course, but their own experiences and culture over two weeks.

“The course emphasises bottom-up learning processes, as students learn from communities who face everyday problems with living conditions and livelihoods, forcing students to be innovative and creative when finding solutions.

“And finally, it offers students employability skills that they can apply after graduation.”

The program has continued to evolve every year, having extended from 10 to 14 days in the field.

“This will provide more opportunities for students to be with communities and to reflect on their learning experiences, helping make the experience even more valuable,” Dr Roitman said.

“We’re excited to continue breaking new ground and enriching both our students and the Indonesian communities with which we collaborate.”

UQ is grateful to key course partners, including UGM, ArkomJogja, Kalijawi, Lingkar, Habitat for Humanity Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta city government, Yogyakarta Provincial Government, Sleman regency, Sukunan village, Kampung Code community, and other collaborating rural and urban communities.

Students partaking in this course can access funding to cover travel expenses provided by the New Colombo Plan and Endeavour Leadership Program (Australian Government) and UQ Employability.

Media: Dr Sonia Roitman,, +61 7 3365 7270; Dominic Jarvis,, +61 413 334 924.