Why Bali?

Three Compelling Reasons

1.    Bali is an accessible culture.

Bali offers numerous opportunities to access its culture through unique, direct experiences including individual dialogues, visiting temples, meetings with the ordinary to the extraordinary Balinese – from rice farmers to world renowned healers, political leaders to cultural icons, academic specialists to entrepreneurial change agents.

It also provides service learning projects including working alongside farmers, to painting a school, planting gardens for new health clinics, to discovering first-hand the UNESCO-named Heritage Site for its ancient water system that is still in operation today.  The list is endless.

Other learning opportunities include experiencing:

  • a values-­based culture that “practices what they preach”
  • collaborative  leadership
  • respect for and recognition of the “unseen” world
  • understanding the importance of “place”
  • ongoing practices of ancient ceremonies and rituals
  • challenges of an ancient culture participating in a 21st  century world


2.    Bali provides engaged learning in a variety of subjects.  Topics include:

  • Leadership – showcasing collaborative, community-­based decision-­making
  • Global social entrepreneurialism
  • Global wellness and health
  • Alternative medicine, traditional healers, Ayuveda
  • Global social issues facing developing countries including mental health, HIV, human trafficking, lack of resources
  • Artistic realms including music, painting, dance, puppetry, story-­telling, wood-carving, textiles
  • Environmental, sustainability, and attached cultural-­social issues
  • Architecture including use of bamboo and other post-­modern designs
  • Ancient cultural sustainability within 21st  Century Innovation
  • Biology including coral reef restoration efforts, plant and animal life, the intersection of land and culture, volcano issues
  • The intersection of spirituality, mindfulness, culture and healing arts


3.     Bali Institute provides transformative learning through integration of curriculum with  cultural experiences.  Five ways that showcase this:

  1. 10-­years of on-­the-­ground work that has built long-­term relationships with leaders in all facets of the culture.
  2. Established, ongoing partnerships with the two largest Balinese universities – Udayana University and Ganesha University.  Both MoU’s (Memorandums of Understanding) are with the Rectors of each university.
  3. Produced over a dozen university programs (many with more than 30 students each) over the last three years, all highly successful with several repeat programs.   Additionally, produced three global conferences with over 1200 people attending from around the world including such global dignitaries as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, other Nobel Peace Laureates, Bhutan’s Minister of Culture, Afghanistan’s head of Red Crescent, and many others.
  4. Capacity to co-­create/design and facilitate portions of classroom learning by integrating curriculum with cultural experiences.
  5. Developing and operating ongoing volunteer opportunities for students and general public in a variety of NGO projects.


Bali is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth. It’s an ideal location for people from every part of the planet to explore new roles they can play in addressing major global issues. This rich culture has much to share with citizens of our shared planet about learning to heal, forgive and live harmoniously with one another and our beloved earth. Balinese rituals and arts all play a role in this new kind of learning. Participants attending our programs encounter the unusual way Balinese ceremony and performance converge with deep dialogue and transformative learning. All of the BIGR programs incorporate Balinese experiences, both linear and non-linear, into the a variety of curriculum.


Additionally, our conferences, workshops and educational courses have brought in well over one million dollars + into Bali’s economy as a gesture of renewed faith that this culture can continue to thrive in a 21st century world.  Hundreds of our participants have also continued to donate to personal and collective Balinese causes and educational funds. In addition, innumerable friendships have been formed between the Balinese and our students/participants, which continue to help Bali in ways that are immeasurable but worth an enormous amount to local families and banjars in Bali.


Here’s our backstory …

The concept for the Bali Institute was first developed during a short vacation that founder Marcia Jaffe took to Bali in 2003. Her time there was at a critical moment in the Island’s history. The bombing of 2002 had left the Island deserted from its most important economic capacity — tourism. The world had left Bali behind, tourism was down more than 90%, and streets were empty, hotels vacant, restaurants deserted. In spite of this horrific event and economic depression, the resilient Balinese spoke often about “what they must have done to have created such bad karma, and what were they going to do about it.”

WOW!  Here was a culture that in spite of everything that had happened, knew how to reflect on itself, take collective responsibility, and learn from this terrible experience — as a culture!

Their answer to their collective inquiry of “What are we going to do to make sure this does not happen again?” was to begin reclaiming their culture from the over-domineering  West and all that it represented to their young people. They wanted to start putting more emphasis on teaching their children about Balinese culture, their deep  values of being in service to their beliefs, the role of their dances, the arts and ceremonies — they wanted to be more fully and proudly Balinese again.

They were also asking the few foreigners who were still coming to Bali to help remind the world that they were still alive and needing attention.

So, after three weeks of witnessing the extraordinary humanity of Balinese people and what they could be teaching the rest of the world, Marcia began exploring an idea to create a global event that would be designed to honor the Balinese culture for their wisdom and extraordinary integral intelligence. What would it look like to create something with them, and have them be in the forefront of the gathering, rather than just the beautiful background? She gathered a team of global movers and shakers to help design and produce what became (very quickly) the first of three Quest for Global Healing conferences in Ubud, Bali. In less than one year, the first conference was held with more than 450 people in attendance. More than 650 attended the second one.   Luminaries who spoke and participated included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, several Nobel peace laureates, the former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, ministers of cultural and tourism from Bhutan, Indonesia, and other countries,  and numerous other world leaders, authors, film makers (including the producers of “What the Bleep Do We Know?”), activists, corporate leaders and NGO officials. The third gathering in 2007, “AWAKENING GLOBAL ACTION,” was developed from the emerging learning from the first two conferences. It focused more on cross-cultural leadership training and dialogue emphasizing new forms of activism and social transformation. In less than four years, these three global events brought together more than 1,500 people from over 40 countries to explore new roles individuals might play in addressing such important issues as poverty, human rights, sustainable development, environment concerns, nonviolent conflict resolution, and numerous other challenges.

From there, it was clear that we were generating something truly empowering,   The concept of a more sustainable and fruitful learning organization  began to take hold — Bali Institute for Global Renewal — born out of the emergent energy of real global citizenship that was present throughout all three programs.  Since then, close to 50 programs of all sizes and content have been held.  Universities throughout the world are discovering our work and new courses are continuing to be created that link indigenous intelligence with academic curriculum and other modalities of learning.

Bali Institute programs – its about really living the experience of Bali. It is not at all about a tour. Time is allowed for the unexpected…it all feels very personal and very real. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to travel from the inside of the culture.

Sandy Cooper
Senior Manager, International Programs
Global Leadership Adventures

Comments are closed.