Georgetown University is exploring options to develop academic programs in Jakarta, Indonesia, the first American university to do so, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced in a speech at Gaston Hall.
Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service will partner with the Indonesian government to develop the programs, Widodo said to campus community members Nov. 13 and at a Nov. 12 White House briefing. Widodo also discussed cooperation between Indonesia and the United States and Indonesia’s response to ongoing geopolitical issues such as U.S.-China competition, the conflict in Israel and Gaza, the war in Ukraine and the rising threat of climate change.
The announcement of Georgetown’s partnership with Indonesia came after President Joe Biden met with Widodo at the White House on Nov. 12, aiming to strengthen the United States’ strategic ties with Indonesia in a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, a form of bilateral cooperation between the two countries implying a commitment to collaborate on various issues. The new programs’ start dates are yet to be announced.
A university spokesperson said the university is in discussion with stakeholders in Washington and Indonesia, including Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, on the future of Georgetown’s presence in Indonesia.
“We welcome President Jokowi’s enthusiastic support as we explore the development of possible Georgetown School of Foreign Service programs in Indonesia,” the university spokesperson wrote to The Hoya.
“We are in continuous dialogue with our partners and key stakeholders — both through Georgetown’s governance procedures and Indonesia’s regulatory processes — in assessing the nature and scope of such programs for future consideration,” the spokesperson added.
Widodo said the country’s partnership with Georgetown reflects the increasing priority the Indonesian government places on education as Indonesia’s young population makes the quality of human resources increasingly important.
“Indonesia and Georgetown will be partnering, and Georgetown will be opening a campus in Indonesia next year,” Widodo said at the event via translator. “Education is one of Indonesia’s priorities because in the 2030s, Indonesia will experience a demographic bonus, so the quality of human resources will become a determining factor.”
Provost Robert Groves said Georgetown is excited about the upcoming campus and other educational opportunities in Indonesia.
“We are deeply grateful for the support that he and his administration have provided Georgetown for these discussions, and as we continue to explore the unique opportunity of working in Jakarta, we do so in the spirit of collaboration and mutual understanding upon which this Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia is based,” Groves said at the event.
Groves underscored Indonesia’s progress and cooperation with other countries on the international stage.
“At this moment the world faces so many seemingly intractable problems. In the face of these problems, Indonesia stands out as an island, or should I say, over 17,000 islands, of progress, stability and hope,” he said.
Indonesia has increasingly become a major player on the world stage, using its neutral approach and economic development sparked by innovative uses of abundant natural resources to foster economic development. Indonesia currently plays a leading role in the Association of South East Asian Nations and held the 2022 G20 presidency.
Widodo said Indonesia aims to play a facilitating and neutral role in international cooperation rather than choose sides, highlighted by efforts to balance U.S.-China tensions and Widodo’s decision to invite both Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin to the G20 Summit hosted by Indonesia in 2022.
“Indonesia is open to cooperation with any country and does not take sides with any power except for peace and humanity,” Widodo said. “The key is to listen and play a bridging role.”
Widodo said in this context of collaboration, he is optimistic about the U.S.-Indonesia partnership. Particularly, the two countries hope to capitalize on trade and investment as well as minerals, critical resources and energy transition.
“There is a lot of potential for cooperation between the two countries, including in trade, economics, investment, minerals, critical resources and energy transition. Indonesia is a country with a lot of critical minerals and potential for green energy. This makes it a good partner for the United States,” Widodo said. “This potential can be used to develop a green economy that will benefit both countries and the world.”
Widodo also urged cooperation between geopolitical leaders in the face of rising global conflict, particularly in regard to the Israel-Hamas War and Gaza’s resulting humanitarian crisis.
“Every 10 minutes, one person is killed. More than 66% of victims are women and children,” Widodo said. “Human life seems meaningless, but to me, every life is precious. This is a humanitarian problem, and to stop it, we need global solidarity, global leadership that prioritizes humanity.”
Widodo also discussed the Indonesian government’s plan to alleviate pressure on Jakarta, a densely populated city, in creating a modern, sustainable capital city in Nusantara on the island of Borneo in 2024.
Widodo said the new capital will incorporate a forest into the city and aim for 80% of citizens to use public transportation and electric vehicles to foster sustainability.
Widodo said Indonesia’s domestic diversity — as a country made up of over 17,000 islands, almost 300 million people and over 1,000 languages — impacts the country’s approach to international relations including the new cooperation with the United States.
“Indonesia is a country that is united by diversity,” Widodo said. “For Indonesia, differences and diversity are a gift.”
This article was updated Nov. 19 to add quotes from the Nov. 13 event.