St. Mary’s College

Indigenous Wisdom & Collective Leadership:
A Transformative Learning Journey with Ken Otter, Ph.D.

August 5-16, 2018

Co-sponsored by Leadership Center at
St. Mary’s College of California
and the Bali Institute

green dividing line

Join us in Bali on this 12-day transformative learning journey into the heart of authentic Balinese life. Our Balinese partners offer us a unique window into their life, not available to most travelers to the island, which offers many profound lessons in life and leadership. By immersing ourselves in the traditional indigenous culture of Bali, you gain invaluable perspectives about our own culture and values, and open up to new possibilities in both living and leadership.

Through various excursions in traditional Balinese life, you gain insights on how to integrate the various spheres of life—art, spirituality, ecology and community, as well as Unknownour western and indigenous heritages.

Through conversation and dialogue with fellow travelers, as well as our local hosts, you get acquainted with new and di?erent ways of living and practicing leadership that is more culturally sensitive, globally aware, and integrated.

As Bali strives to keep alive their indigenous heritage in the midst of growing westernization, you learn valuable leadership in navigating the challenges and opportunities of today’s complex and dynamic world.

Past participants described this learning journey as “mind-opening,” “life-changing,” “captivating.” One participant shared: “Bali taught me patience,
humility, and gratitude, and that the possibilities for connection are endless…“


Below you will find the 2017 itinerary that closely approximates the 2018 version:

Location 1:  Central Bali – Ubud

Ubud is a thriving village in central Bali and is considered the cultural capital of this tiny island. It is famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the village and nearby areas consist of artists’ workshops and galleries. Here you find remarkable architecture and other sites including historical museums, famous woodcarvers and artists, and an array of interesting cafes, local foods, and non-­stop ceremonies. The word Ubud comes from the Balinese word for medicine, so it is here that people flock for healing energies, good spirits, meditation, yoga, artistry, and indigenous knowledge.

Days 1 – 5

  • Intro to Bali Orientation – Learn about the life philosophy of Tri Hita Karana (three causes of goodness) in Balinese life
  • Venture out into Ubud during our Scavenger Hunt and learn more about the culture through interacting with the Balinese people
  • Attend a private tour, dinner and dance performance at the Peliatan Palace. Over dinner, you’ll have the opportunity to ask the Prince questions about Bali’s traditional culture as well as modern-day challenges
  • Experience a traditional market, walk through serene rice paddies, and visit a holy spring temple where countless Balinese go for purification rituals each year
  • Local village banjar (community center) experience including making offerings, practicing gamelan music, trying out Balinese dance, and woodcarving
  • NGO Site Visits
  • Herbal Walk: Local experts lead this walk around the Campuhan River valley area, as you are introduced you to the techniques and practices of traditional and contemporary Balinese herbal healing
  • Visit Neka Museum: The Neka museum opened in 1982 and is named after a Balinese teacher, Suteja Neka, who collected paintings as a means of artistic documentation. The museum has a great examples of traditional painting styles from different regions of Bali, contemporary Balinese and Indonesian art, and work from young Balinese artists as well as paintings and early photographs by foreigners who were inspired by the beauty and tradition of Bali.
  • Special Dinner & Conversation with the founder of a local women’s center, a Balinese woman who, since her divorce 10 years ago, dreamed about creating a space where women can support each other and share skills to create job opportunities and achieve greater independence.

Location 2: East Bali – Amed

Amed is an area of small fishing villages on Bali’s east coast– it was only a little over 12 years ago that an official road was built through the area. Known for its diving sites, Amed’s indigenous residents primarily work in fishing and salt-making. Amed is one of the poorer areas in Bali because of limited rice-growing land and minimal tourism. Although poor in monetary terms, the people are still rich in spirit as you will see during your visit. Ceremonies, rituals and celebrations occur on a daily basis and reflect the unique traditions of this coastal area.

Days 6-8

  • Drive to Amed and stop for lunch in Tirta Gangga, a water palace built in 1946 by the Raja of Karangasem
  • Settle into bungalows right on the shore of Amed’s beautiful coastal waters
  • Get up early to watch the sunrise on a traditional fishing boat. Snorkel over Amed’s incredible coral reefs and see the remnants of a Japanese shipwreck from World War II
  • Meet the local Balian, or “jungle healer” that will captivate your afternoon
  • Help cook a traditional Balinese meal with a local family and eat on the beach while watching the sunset
  • Walk through the hills of Amed village guided by locals—witness ceremonies, learn about fishing and hillside farming, and experience coastal village life

Location 3: North Bali – Singaraja

Singaraja is the largest city in North Bali, and the former colonial administrative capital for the Dutch. Singaraja still has some of the feel of an old colonial capital. The streets are wider and grander than elsewhere in Bali and some of the old houses set in large gardens recall days long gone. This is also a noticeably multiethnic city. The Arabic influence is especially apparent and the largest Chinese temple in Bali is here. There are over 25,000 students who live in Singaraja, as this is also a major academic center with two universities.

Days 9-11

  • Drive to Singaraja and visit Bali Mandara High School , a special boarding school for disadvantaged students that have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership potential
  • Settle into small boutique hotels in Lovina, the neighboring village to Singaraja
  • Experience a local hot springs
  • NGO site visit at an orphanage home in North Bali that focuses on holistic well-being as important way to raise children. They do acroyoga, meditation and have their own organic farm.
  • Take in the sunset on a boat ride in Lovina for swimming and snorkeling
  • Participate in a cross-cultural seminar with students from Ganesha University in Singaraja

Location 4: West Bali – Mengwi

Mengwi is located in the western part of Bali and is famous for its rolling green landscapes, clove and coffee plantations and spectacular rice paddies. The village of Mengwi has a long and rich history associated with its royal family, one of Bali’s main ancient kingdoms, and is nestled in shady coconut groves, surrounded by rice fields and rivers.

Days 12-14

  • Drive to Mengwi and on the way visit Ulun Danu Bratan, one of the most iconic temples in Bali on Lake Beratan
  • Settle into relaxing accommodations nestled among the rice paddies. Enjoy lunch at the rice fields with homegrown Balinese food.
  • Experience an engaging meeting with an internationally-renowned cultural leader and entrepreneur who is recognized for his projects, concepts on community-based tourism and cultural preservation
  • Enjoy a delicious dinner and a special closing ceremony at an important temple of the Mengwi royal family.

green dividing line

Non-Credit Course Program Fee:  $2500
Please click on the link below to continue to the registration site for further instructions.

To Registerred circle

*For more information on how to earn 3-6 units of graduate course credit, send an email to

All Programs:

  • Pay your non-refundable deposit of $500 when you register to secure your spot
  • Pay the balance due by June 1, 2018

Pricing is based on double occupancy.  If we are unable to match you with a roommate, a single room supplement fee may apply. 

Price includes all of the above (transportation, hotels, some meals, all activities, and airport transfers if arrival and departure are on the first/last days of the program or extension between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm). Not included are optional side trips, laundry, some meals, any visa costs.

About the Program Leader:

Ken Otter, Ph.D.
is Director of Leadership Studies Programs and Co-director of The Leadership Center at Saint Mary’s College. Areas of scholarship include: global leadership development, leadership coaching education, multi-stakeholder collaboration, collective creativity, and the application of lifespan and wisdom development in organizational life. Ken’s educational studies include somatic, counseling and organizational psychology, expressive arts therapy, adult development and learning, and leadership. In addition to both a M.A. and Ph.D. degree, he has been earned certificates in the Art and Practice of Leadership Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and in Executive and Organizational Coaching from Columbia’s Teacher’s College.


To Registerred circle

green dividing line

* Bali Institute for Global Renewal is the largest provider of cultural immersion and service learning programs for universities and high schoolers based in Bali, Indonesia. Other programs include internships and practicum opportunities, faculty training programs and other services to international groups and organizations in their quest to provide inspired learning towards global citizenship. Bali Institute is located in Ubud, Bali and Sausalito, California. It is the only affiliate member of ISEP, and an educational partner with Udayana University and Ganesha University — both based in Bali.

travel insured graphic - Copy (3)

Comments are closed.