The Blind Spot in the Green Revolution: Temples, Terraces, and Rice Farmers of Bali

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This case explores the complex interactions in a socio-environmental system, the Balinese wet rice cultivation system. Using a combination of the interrupted case and directed case methods, students are presented with an issue that arose during the implementation of Green Revolution agricultural policies in Bali: rice farmers were required to plant new high yield rice varieties continuously rather than following the coordinated cropping schedules set up by water temple priests. Students examine qualitative and quantitative data from classic anthropological research by Dr. Steven Lansing to learn about the important role that water temples play in achieving sustainable rice cultivation in Bali. Using a model that synthesizes ecological, hydrological, and ethnographic data, Lansing and his colleague, Dr. James Kremer, were able to demonstrate that temple priests determine the cropping schedules for farmers in a way that reduces pest growth and helps to manage limited water resources, maximizing rice yields. This four-part case can be used for a wide range of courses in a few class periods (total class time approximately 4.5-5 hrs.)


This is a teaching case study based on the anthropological research of Dr. Steven Lansing, and part of the SESYNC collection of socio-environmental case studies (