Project Description

This program is a short introduction to Environmental Science (ES) work. It is designed to present students with the basic fundamentals of field work and a taste for the rigor of field research. Students considering a full field school experience should apply to any of our standard 4-5 week-long programs.


Borneo is a global biodiversity hotspot and is home to many endemic species, including the Bornean orangutan. The Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) works to protect some of the most important tropical rainforests in Borneo by conducting wide-ranging biodiversity and forestry research to make the case for conservation and demonstrate and mitigate the impact of human activities. We train students, researchers and protected-area managers, and work with local partners to implement successful conservation projects on a landscape scale.

This field school focuses on the behavioral ecology of three sympatric Bornean primate species in a tropical peat swamp forest: orangutans, gibbons and red langurs. Students will explore these animals’ lives, learning how to understand their population status, activity patterns, diet, ranging and social behavior, and gain insight into the challenges and potential solutions for primate conservation in Borneo. The school is based in the Sebangau Forest, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, home to the world’s largest protected population of the Bornean orangutan and white-bearded gibbon. Living in a well-established forest field station, and with teaching led by school directors with over 20 years’ primate research experience on Borneo, you will be immersed in the forest environment and undertake ‘living lectures’ with real researchers to help you understand these unique and fascinating primates and the action needed to conserve them.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: TBA

  • Enrollment Status: CLOSED

  • Tuition: $4,065

  • Course Type: Primatology
  • Payment Deadline: TBA

  • Instructors: Dr. Susan Cheyne & Dr. Helen Morrogh-Bernard
  • Orientation: TBA
  • Academic Credit: 4 Semester Credit Units (equivalent to 6 Quarter Units)

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The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about the course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Susan M. Cheyne
Dr. Susan M. Cheyne
Dr. Cheyne is a Co-Director of Borneo Nature Foundation International and an Associate Lecturer of the MSc Primate Conservation course at the Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, UK.
Dr Helen Morrogh-Bernard
Dr Helen Morrogh-Bernard
Dr. Morrogh-Bernard is a Co-Director of Borneo Nature Foundation International and a Daphne Jackson Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK.


My time in the Sebangau peat swamp forest of Borneo is one that I’ll carry with me always. The BNF short field course provided a remarkable amount of in situ training as a field conservationist. Every member of the staff is an ecologist of sorts with unique skills in wildlife observation and technical expertise that they are happy to share. Thank you for all the knowledge and inspiration!

Jonathan Lorenzo

The short field course with BNF provides a potted, holistic introduction to conservation well as learning about singing gibbons and curious orangutans in a peat swamp forest. Exploring the forest was fascinating: an experience I never tired of, even if I was physically tired at the end of the day. Lectures were informal but informative and it was great to learn      alongside all of the helpful staff, both local and non-local. The camp is friendly and relaxed, having a family feel to it and whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous, Lis and his kitchen team turn out delicious, nutritious food three times per day. But the most memorable thing, apart from coming face-to-face with a male orangutan, was waking up to the melodious improvisations of the white-bearded gibbons. For me, the whole experience was life changing! I have changed career and started an MSc in Primate Conservation. Can’t wait to go back to Sebangau!

Joanne Harper

Tuition Includes:

  • Cost of Instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credit Units
  • All local transportation
  • Health & Evacuation Insurance
  • Room & Board

Student Fees

This program requires an online application — there is no fee to submit an application. Once admitted, a payment of the nonrefundable deposit fee is required to secure a place in the program(s). The Tuition balance (total program cost minus the deposit fee) must be paid prior to the Tuition deadline as listed above under “Course Details.” A $200 late fee will be added to all accounts not paid in full by the Tuition deadline.

Early Decision Enrollment (Nov 1, 2019 through Jan 10, 2020): A reduced, nonrefundable $300 deposit fee is required to secure a seat in the program. This deposit is part of the total Tuition and NOT in addition to it.

Regular Enrollment (Jan 11, 2020 through payment deadline): A nonrefundable $500 deposit fee is required to secure a seat in the program. This deposit is part of the total Tuition and NOT in addition to it.

Late Enrollment (payment deadline forward): A nonrefundable $600 deposit fee is required to secure a seat in the program. In addition, a $200 late fee will be added to all accounts not paid in full by the Tuition payment deadline.

Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy: If you paid the deposit fee but did not cancel your participation by the Tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full Tuition regardless of attendance at any IFR program. Please carefully read our Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy for further information.

Credit Card Processing Fee: A 2.5% processing fee is automatically incurred for all credit/debit card/online payments.

Academic Credit Opt Out: Students who wish to participate in an IFR field school without earning academic credit units may do so and receive the following discounts: $300 off a full program (4 or more weeks in length) or $200 off a short program (2-3 weeks in length).

Trip Cancellation Insurance: The IFR does not provide trip cancellation insurance. Read this Wall Street Journal article about travel insurance — it may help in making a decision whether such insurance is for you. If you do wish to purchase such insurance, AON Student Insurance, or are two possible resources you may wish to explore.


At the field site, students sleep on bunk beds in single-sex dormitory style rooms, equipped with mosquito nets, pillows, mattresses and sheets provided by BNF. Students should bring their own sleeping bag/sleeping bag liner. Shelves and plastic storage boxes are provided for personal belongings. There are no fans or air conditioning at camp. There is a common area with tables for the students to work at and a separate meeting/workshop space within the accommodation block where lectures will be held. Students are responsible for hand washing their own clothes, but all washing equipment will be provided at camp.

There is only one western-style toilet at camp, all other toilets are squat toilets, as is standard throughout Indonesia, and the camp is equipped with a sewage system. Toilet paper is provided, but this is not flushed down the toilets and is disposed of separately. The bathroom in Indonesia is called a ‘mandi’ and ‘to mandi’ is to take a shower. These are cubicles with a water supply, in a large bucket, which you pour over yourself. There is no hot water, but water is instead pumped from beneath the surface of the peat to be used for the bathrooms and washing clothes.

Camp is equipped with a generator, which runs from 5pm to 10pm every evening, providing time to charge electrical equipment such as phones, laptops and cameras. While at camp, and within the forest, the internet signal is generally strong enough to contact friends and family using Whatsapp. Sending and receiving emails is sometimes possible, but cannot be relied upon. There is no WiFi, so students need to unlock their US phone and purchase an Indonesian SIM card that is specifically for internet and which usually costs about US$5.

Meals are served at camp regularly at 7am, midday and at 6pm. Snacks are also provided every day for students to take into the forest with them. Meals are traditional Indonesian food, which includes rice with every meal. Drinking water and hot water for tea, coffee and hot chocolate is freely available at camp. BNF makes every effort to accommodate vegetarian, vegan and any other dietary preferences/food allergies at camp. This will be more difficult for the time spent in Palangka Raya, especially for vegans, so BNF recommends students consider bringing supplements/multi-vitamins along with them. Please note: a severe peanut, soy or egg allergy could be difficult to accommodate as these foods are used frequently in Indonesian cooking, but BNF has no problem with accommodating gluten or lactose intolerant diets.

Travel Info

Please hold purchasing your airline ticket until six (6) weeks prior to departure date. Natural disasters, political changes, weather conditions and a range of other factors may require the cancellation of a field school. The IFR typically takes a close look at local conditions 6-7 weeks prior to program beginning and makes Go/No Go decisions by then. Such a time frame still allows the purchase of deeply discounted airline tickets while protecting students from potential loss of airline ticket costs if we decide to cancel a program.

Students can book their international flights through a travel agency, the airline’s website or via an online flight search engine. Students will need to fly into Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta. Students will also need to purchase a domestic return flight from Jakarta to Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangka Raya. Tjilik Riwut is not an international airport. While these tickets can be purchased at the airport in Jakarta, we strongly recommend that students fly Garuda to Palangka Raya as tickets can be purchased in advance using the airline’s website which is secure and can process credit card payments. 

At immigration in Jakarta, agents will require students to show a return ticket out of Indonesia, so it is necessary to purchase a ticket to leave the country before starting their journey. For international flights, United, American or Asian airlines such as ANA, Japan Airlines are usually the cheapest options flying from the US to Indonesia. These can be booked using a travel agency, the airline’s website or cut-price websites such as, or 

Students need to book their domestic flight to arrive into Palangka Raya on the start date of the course and BNF recommends booking a domestic Garuda flight. At the time of writing, Garuda offer two flights per day from Jakarta to Palangka Raya, at 05:35am and 2:55pm. Students also need to book their flight leaving from Palangka Raya on the final day of the course. Flights to Jakarta on Garuda are currently scheduled for 8:20am and 5:30pm. 

Please be advised, if students choose to book other flights, BNF will not be responsible for transport to and from the airport, and students will be required to arrange their own transportation to and from the hotel in Palangka Raya.

Upon arrival, students will be greeted by Borneo Nature Foundation staff at the arrivals exit of Tjilik Riwut Airport. Please be advised, if students choose to book other flights, we will not be responsible from transport to and from the airport and hotel, and students will be required to arrange their own transportation to the hotel in Palangka Raya. We recommend ensuring at least four hours between your domestic arrival/departure time and international arrival/departure time for transferring at Jakarta International Airport. If students miss their connection or flight is delayed, please contact A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students. We request that all students send a copy of their itinerary to at least two weeks prior to their arrival to arrange meeting at the airport.

VISA Requirements

Please see syllabus for detailed instructions on how to obtain a Social Cultural Visa to travel to Indonesia.

Student Safety

The IFR primary concern is with education. Traveling and joining forest activities involve risk. Students interested in participating in IFR programs must weigh whether the potential risk is worth the value of the education provided. While risk is inherent in everything we do, we do not take risk lightly. The IFR engages in intensive review of each field school location prior to approval. Once a program is accepted, the IFR reviews each program annually to make sure it complies with all our standards and policies, including student safety.

Students attending IFR international programs are covered by a comprehensive Health Insurance policy that includes physical illness or injury, mental or chronic conditions. No deductible and 100% of costs are covered up to $250,000. In addition, we provide a Political and Natural Disaster Evacuation policy, which allows us to remove students from field school locations if local conditions change. Our field school directors are scholars who know the field school locations and cultures well and are plugged in to local communities and state institution structures.

Students attending IFR domestic programs (within the US) must have their own health insurance and provide proof upon enrollment. IFR field school directors are familiar with local authorities and, if in need of evacuation, local emergency services and/or law enforcement will be notified and activated.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field. If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students may contact IFR personnel directly.

Call (877-839-4374) or email ( if you have questions about the safety of any particular program.