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AU and University Honors | Study/Travel | Malaysia 2012

  • Skyline of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • The Taman Negara canopy walkway
  • CPIMAGE:3724196
  • Malayan Tiger
  • AU honors students at Machu Picchu

In Spring 2012, the Honors Study/Travel Program sent students to Malaysia. The University Honors Program offers a Study/Travel Program to provide AU students a special opportunity to explore onsite the historical, political, cultural and social aspects of a certain country, region, or city during a week-long trip that coincides with spring break.

SIS Professor Pek Koon Heng-Blackburn, who led the trip, was born in Malaysia and had led AU trips there for the past ten years. Professor Blackburn also taught an Honors colloquium in Spring 2012 entitled "Race, Religion and Identity in Globalizing Malaysia."

Registration for this trip is now closed. The travel dates were Friday, March 9 - Monday, March 19, 2012. See below for details about trip highlights and course credit.

Trip Highlights

Highlights of the Study/Travel trip to Malaysia included:

  • Day trip to Forest Research Institute of Malaysia featuring a tour on the Canopy Walkway, which was constructed for scientific studies of above-ground flora and fauna.
  • Tour of the historic city of Malacca, located on Malaysia's west coast. The city was founded as a sultanate and has been designated as a World Heritage Site. Attractions include ruins from the period of Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonization.
  • Dialogue session with students from Malaysian universities.
  • Exploration of cultural sites in Putrajaya, including visits to a beautiful mosque, Hindu shrine and Chinese temple.
  • Visit to the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia to learn about U.S.- Malaysian relations.
  • Guest speakers on such topics as Islam in Malaysia; political identity and democracy; human rights; refugee and migrant worker issues; and economic development.

The travel guide Lonely Planet has these things to say about Malaysia:

  • Malaysia (particularly along the peninsular west coast) has one of the best assortments of delicious cuisines in the world.
  • Despite all the pockets of ethnicities, religions, landscapes and the sometimes-great distances between them, the beauty of Malaysia lies in the fusion of it all, into a country that is one of the safest, most stable and easiest to manage in Southeast Asia.
  • Kuala Lumpur has evolved into a 21st-century metropolis, dominated by the tallest skyscrapers in Southeast Asia and flush with the proceeds of international trade and commerce.
  • Kuala Lumpur is every inch the Asian cyber-city: historic temples and mosques rub shoulders with space-age towers and shopping mall.
  • The most striking thing about Kuala Lumpur from a visitor’s perspective is its remarkable cultural diversity.
  • One of Malaysia’s most eagerly sought-after destinations, the small city-state of Melaka (Malacca) lures droves of visitors to its namesake historic port city, where they are quickly steeped in an intoxicating multicultural world of heritage architecture and the alluring aromas of distinctive local cooking.
  • Proud of its multicultural heritage, plentiful museums and assorted cultural attractions, Melaka is a tourist habitat par excellence.

Course Credit

Students had the opportunity to earn academic credit on the trip by signing up for an independent study with Professor Pek Koon Heng-Blackburn, the SIS professor who led the trip and taught a spring 2012 Honors Colloquium on Malaysia. Depending on their majors, participating students also had a chance to earn major credit.


Please don't hesitate to ask. Contact Honors directly at 202-885-6194, or by email at