Enduring Connections? Soft Power and Pedagogy in Short-Term Study Tours to Indonesia

Agnieszka Sobocinska, Jemma Purdey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Since 2013, the Australian government has funded Australian students to undertake short periods of study abroad with an emphasis on Asia, including Indonesia. Universities, too, have been enhancing their study-abroad options as part of broader internationalization campaigns. In a short time, the number of Australian higher-education students undertaking study abroad as part of their undergraduate degrees has doubled, to one in five students. This significant investment follows from two beliefs: that Australia's relations with Asia are significantly impacted by people-to people relations; and that formal, experiential learning is a particularly effective pedagogical method. But is this investment warranted? Do periods of short-term study in Indonesia enrich students' understanding of the region, and of Australia's relations with Asia? And do current undergraduates, who have unprecedented access to mobility through travel and tourism, gain anything from a formal and guided people-to-people experience? This article explores these questions through an in-depth investigation of the intensive-mode undergraduate unit 'Australia and Asia' run by the Faculty of Arts at Monash University from 2014 to 2017. It suggests that, for many students, study tours facilitate a short-term period of emotional involvement and self-reflection, rather than forging enduring connections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-251
Number of pages27
JournalBijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Asia literacy
  • Australia
  • education
  • Indonesia
  • New Colombo Plan
  • soft power
  • student mobility

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