Understanding Indonesia's Contemporary Strategic Thinking

Course Group: 
Indo-Pacific Security, Politics, and Policy


This five-day course addresses key strategic aspects of Indonesia’s contemporary strategic thinking. The course provides the observer with a snapshot of a developing country where primordial politics, corruption, and economic inequalities combine with an immense breadth of cultural diversity, natural resource wealth, and a religious community who for centuries have practiced religious tolerance. These qualities come together and fall under an umbrella of a social-media loving society that collectively supports democracy.

The course is innovatively designed to capture complexity in understanding Indonesia as a country with mixture of a cultural orthodoxy due to a long history of struggle, well-regarded foreign policy activism, decentralized democracy, and vibrant emerging Middle Power. This five-day course will combine various learning methods, including: individual lectures, expert panel discussion (roundtables), a simulation exercise, and stimulating group exercises.

The course selectively addresses various aspects of Indonesian history, politics, culture and its influence to foreign policy and defence. This is important to help participants develop a comprehensive picture of Indonesia incorporating both scholarly research with sound strengthen policy-orientated insights. Through the presence of two leading international experts in the field, the course brings a unique set of perspectives and knowledge to Canberra.

Who Should Attend?

Course Requirements

Course Outline

Presenter Background

Dates & Registration

Duration: 5 Days

Delivery mode: Classroom


Advertised: Canberra

What you will receive:

  • Comprehensive course notes
  • UNSW Canberra certificate of completion/attendance*
  • Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea




While this course is suitable for individuals with specialist knowledge in the field, it does not presume prior knowledge and is therefore open to anyone with an interest in Indonesia's contemporary strategic thinking.




Class participation & discussion:

Participants are expected to attend all sessions of the 6 day course. Details of each session can be found in the course outline below. Each session will last for 90 minutes. There will be a total of twenty sessions, the topics and readings are described in detail below. Participants are expected to read all the required readings for each day and to come to the session prepared to discuss them both with the instructors and fellow participants.

Group exercises:

For sessions #3 day 2, 3 day 4, and 3 day 6, Participants are expected to work in a group. A group representative will be selected to present the results of group discussion addressing the various questions and assignments given.

Class Simulation Exercise:

In conjunction with the Class simulation on “Peace Talks on Resolving the Aceh Crisis,” Participants are expected to write a position paper between 200 to 500 words. This position paper due 1 day before the simulation and should be emailed to the instructors at: isemirza@ntu.edu.sg and islcsebastian@ntu.edu.sg. During the simulation exercise, students are also expected to work together to produce a short write up that will be presented at the end of simulation. The details of the simulation and assignments can be found at the attached documents.




DAY ONE - Welcome Dinner

DAY TWO - Understanding Indonesia’s Strategic Thinking

  1. Course introduction, objectives, and requirements and Opening Remarks on “Understanding Indonesia”
  2. On Indonesia’s Democracy, Evolution of Indonesian Politics
  3. Group exercise: Reflecting on Indonesia’s history
  4. Indonesia’s Defence and Security Sector Reform

DAY THREE - People, Military, and Strategic Culture of the Indonesian Military

  1. Unravelling Indonesia Strategic Culture, its impact, and the “Partial Adoption of Military Innovation”
  2. The Rise of Jokowi: Contemporary Politics in Indonesia
  3. Photography Presentation: Snapshot of demographic, economic, political, and socio- cultural profile of Indonesia
  4. Jokowi and the Indonesian Military: Civil Military relations in Indonesia

DAY FOUR - Jokowi and Indonesia Foreign Policy in Asia Pacific

  1. Indonesia’s Foreign Policy throughout the years: Change and Continuity
  2. Jokowi’s Foreign Policy and Global Maritime Fulcrum, and the rise of new actors in foreign policy
  3. Group exercise: Hypothetical escalation of conflict between Indonesia and China: Implications for Australia
  4. Indonesia’s Leadership in ASEAN and its Global Aspirations

DAY FIVE - Contemporary Military Operations in Indonesia

  1. Modernizing the Indonesian Military
  2. Panel on the Indonesian Military Development
  3. Class simulation: Peace Talks on Resolving the Aceh Crisis
  4. Class simulation: Peace Talks on Resolving the Aceh Crisis

DAY SIX - Thinking about Indonesia’s Rise: Prospect, Shortcomings, and Regional Implications

  1. Panel on Indonesia’s Rise: Prospects and Shortcomings
  2. Panel on Indonesia’s rising: Regional Implications
  3. Group exercise: Debating the notion of Indonesia’s Rise
  4. Closing remarks: “How to understand Indonesia?” Practical tips to avoid frictions in the future

For further course information:




Leonard is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Indonesia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). He is author of Realpolitik Ideology: Indonesia’s Use of Military Force (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006) and his refereed articles have been published extensively.

He received his PhD from the Australian National University in 1997 where he was affiliated to the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies.

He is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, Canberra campus and a member of the Advisory Panel to the Government Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs (GPC-DFA). He lectures regularly at various government and security agencies, both in Singapore and abroad.

Full Background


Emirza is a Research Analyst at the Indonesia Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He obtained his Master Degree in Strategic Studies from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU in 2014.

He is currently working on various projects related to Indonesia’s strategic culture with the aim of examining the impact of the memory of the early formation of Indonesia as a state with regards to force and diplomacy in the post-Suharto era.

Full Background


19 February 2017 - 24 February 2017