Future Leader in The Making: The Excitement to Dive in into the Current Environmental and Social Issues in Short Course Batch 3

The importance of young people as future leaders to understand and explore social and environmental issues, as well as how voluntary movements in supporting these two things felt necessary for RMI to produce gender-sensitive leader candidates who can create social justice change. Therefore, since 2016, RMI has routinely held Short Courses on social and environmental issues.


Until now, RMI’s Short Course has spawned 40 alumni in two years. This year, the RMI Short Course was held again on September 27-29, 2019, in Bogor, with the theme “Environmental Volunteering Movement for Social Change.” This short course was attended by students from various universities, ranging from Bogor Agricultural University, Pakuan University, University of Indonesia, and also not inclusive to those who did not take formal tertiary education. During 3 days of activities; The 20 short course participants studied social and environmental issues, as well as the interconnection between various issues and the contexts behind them, and how the integral role of young women to overcome various problems that are occuring today.

What Did We Learn?

This short course material is systematically arranged so that it makes it easy for participants to find a common thread that binds each material submitted so that it becomes a complete understanding. On the first day – after starting with an introductory session with the Appreciative Inquiry method – in groups, participants were invited to identify “Popular Environmental Issues” through snippets of pictures from the newspapers that were provided and then present their thoughts and discussions.

After understanding that one environmental problem did not really stand on its own, participants then got a material that was no less interesting, namely “Introduction to Gender Concepts.” The session material was mostly filled with assignments and group discussions, for example detailing the ideal male and female descriptions. In order to strengthen the understanding that the concept of gender is very closely related to social construction and the difference in roles between men and women in society. The short course on the first day was closed by interpreting an intriguing short clip about gender roles in society, published by the United Nation titled, “the Impossible Dream”.

On the second day of the short course, participants were invited to test the implicit biases that are embedded in their minds. “What comes to mind when you hear the words: women, men, gays, lesbians, children, Papuans, government, NGOs, Chinese descendants?” were the main questions in this initial session. After detailing and reviewing each stereotype the participants had, the speaker relate it to the material “Leadership.” It was explained that to be a leader, the self-quality (values, attitudes and skills) of the prospective leader was sensitive to various ordinary biases in the community because it influences the decisions that will be taken. Subsequently the material that was then presented discussed “Political Ecology”, “Structural Poverty and Development Policy”, and “Volunteering Movement for Social Change.”

The guest speaker, Mardha Tillah, was the one presenting materials on stereotypes and implicit biases.

Participants are invited to unravel the jagged threads that surround the complex natural resources management in Indonesia. The current problem of natural resources management in Indonesia cannot be separated from its historical context (the colonial period) which is often the root cause of conflict between the community and the state. The discriminatory natural resources management policy towards marginalized communities triggered the birth of a system that perpetuates the spirit of colonialism towards citizens. At this point the participants then realized that the poor, as one of the problems arising from the complexity of natural resources management in Indonesia, were not merely present because of the assumption that they were lazy or stupid; but because of the existence of a system / governance that cuts opportunities for marginal people to develop. Human development (human development) is one area of ​​development that can be encouraged to slowly erode the problem. In this case the youth can also take part by initiating or joining voluntary activities.

Whereas on the third day of the Short Course Batch 3, the material “Environmental Ethics” was explained. Here, the speaker stated that essentially every living thing, not only humans, has the right to live and its conditions need to be considered when making a decision. The various paradigms presented made the participants aware that so far we have adopted the anthropocentrism paradigm — humans are the center of life, human logic is the most important thing.

Innovative Delivery Methods

The material delivered during the short course can be optimally absorbed by the participants because of the very innovative delivery of material. Group discussions, games, individual assignments, and team building sessions are some of the methods that participants often get for 3 days of activities. The combination of material delivery methods between lecture / presentation by the presenters with individual and group activities becomes one of the strengths as well as the unique short course compared to other similar activities. Active participation of participants was also facilitated through question and answer sessions and group presentations.

Presenters and facilitators really understand how to package material that seems heavy with a simple delivery method, one of which is the game “Minta dong!” (“Can I, please?”) in the material “Poverty and Structural Policy.” Initially, the participants thought that one of the materials to be delivered on the second day will be discussing theories of poverty as well as laws / policies that are relevant to it. But the speaker asked for the commitment of all participants to play “Minta dong!” From the beginning of the game to the very end. So no participant is allowed to stop in the middle of this game. Each participant each gets 2 corn seeds, 2 green bean seeds, 2 coffee beans, and 2 soybean seeds. Every coffee bean is worth 20 points, corn 10 points, soy beans 5 points, and green beans 2 points. Participants are asked to barter the seeds with other participants by saying the words “ Minta dong!”  Each end of the barter round, points from each seed are counted and added up. Until the fifth or final round of barter, if the number of grain points of the participant is less than 80 then the participant will be punished to have dinner with only white rice and salt.

Participants are playing the game “Minta dong!”. This method is used to convey Structural Poverty material and Development Policy.

This game was beyond the expectations of the participants because it succeeded in bringing the context of poverty closer to the participants. In society there are people who are considered ‘losing’ and their opportunities to develop are less than those who have more capital resources. People who are considered ‘losing’ are labeled as poor people with various national / international criteria / standards that have been set. The conditions of people who are used to live subsistently were never paid attention to. Looking back on the condition of the community, many of them are quite living with farming and are able to meet their daily needs by managing natural resources. Outside intervention through programs and policies aimed to ‘help’ these people sometimes are not based on proper study and planning. In the game “Minta dong!” for example, it was shown that government assistance are sometimes giving inappropriate advices because it is given to people who are more privileged.

Reflections from the game include changes in the system, the perspective of seeing people labeled poor, and adjusting the criteria for ‘poor people’ indeed need to be done. But this is not the only way. Seeing the vulnerability of programs or policies prepared by the government to be more oriented to the output, the contribution of Civil Society Organizations are vital because they have the potential to design community empowerment programs that are more sustainable and are oriented towards behavioral change in the society.

Finally, the series of short course activities was concluded with the delivery of testimonials from the participants in the activity. This is also one of the most memorable parts because each participant has the opportunity to express their plans ahead after participating in the short course activities. There are participants who want to explain the material obtained during the short course to their friends, develop their campus organization project based on the material and training methods they have obtained, and will independently re-study the material that has been obtained. Seeing the enthusiasm of participants after participating in the short course, it is hoped that the benefits of this activity can be expanded and more young people are moved to make changes in their environment in their own ways.

Author: Supriadi

Editor: Dinda Tungga Dewi

Translator: Amanda So

Please click on the following links to see the participants’ responses regarding this Short Course activity.

Story from Emmerald Falah: http://bit.ly/CeritaEmma

Story from Nafisa Nur Alifah: http://bit.ly/CeritaNaf

Story from Alfina Khairunisa: http://bit.ly/CeritaAlfina

Story from Nadyati Fajrin: http://bit.ly/CeritaNadya

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