Climate Change and The Fall of The Mayan Civilization: Are They Connected?

Author: Natasya Fila Rais

Climate change, also called global warming, refers to the rise in average surface temperatures on Earth.[1] There has been a few debates on whether climate change is real or not. There is a broad agreement that says climate change is real. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concur that climate change is indeed occurring and is almost certainly due to human activity.[2] An overwhelming scientific consensus maintains that climate change is due primarily to the human use of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. The gases trap heat within the atmosphere, which can have a range of effects on ecosystems, including rising sea levels, severe weather events, and droughts that render landscapes more susceptible to wildfires.[3] Human activities, such as deforestation and agriculture, are believed to contribute to climate change.

Climate change can cause the rising of the Earth’s temperature.  The earth’s average temperature has gone up 1.4° F over the past century and is expected to rise as much as 11.5° F over the next.[4] The temperature rising can cause the polar ice caps to melt, which will lead to the rising of the sea level. Such rising will cause more frequent and dangerous storm, rapid intensity of rainfall, flood, and threaten animal habitats and endangered species.

The Maya Empire, became an influential ancient civilization in the sixth century A.D. It was located on the Yucatan Peninsula and region that is now known as Guatemala. The Maya excelled at agriculture, pottery, hieroglyph writing, calendar-making and mathematics, and left behind an astonishing amount of impressive architecture and symbolic artwork.[5] The declining of the Mayan civilization was claimed to be one of the most mysterious declining processes among other ancient civilizations. One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed.[6] Prior to the development of the drought theory on Mayan civilization’s demise, researchers had suggested soil erosion as the cause of the civilization’s downfall.[7] Soil erosion happened as a result of the Mayans chopping down forests in order to create farmlands. The environment where the Mayans lived could no longer sustain the lives of the people there. Extreme and intense period of drought was believed to be one of the reasons why the Maya civilization collapsed. Other Maya scholars argue that constant warfare among competing city-states led the complicated military, family (by marriage) and trade alliances between them to break down, along with the traditional system of dynastic power.[8]

Looking at the cause of the declining of the Mayan civilization, it is believed that climate change is the primary reason why the aforementioned collapsed. Scholars, scientists, and historians who are experts on the Mayan civilization are still arguing on the fact. The declining of the Mayan civilization is suspected to be caused by soil erosion, drought, deforestation, and warfare. During the modern day, soil erosion, drought, and deforestation are considered as a few factors that contribute to climate change. From such perspective, it is believed that the Mayan civilization collapsed because of the climate change. The Yucatan Peninsula, where the Mayans were located, is a seasonal desert. The region depends on heavy summer rains that provide as much as 90 percent of the annual precipitation.[9] Precipitation happened rapidly across the peninsula. Surface water often dissolves the limestone bedrock of the Yucatán, and also creates caves and underground rivers.[10] David A. Hodell had proposed the idea of the drought theory in 1995 after analyzing sediment records in Lake Chichancanab. The lake is located in Yucatán, Mexico and possesses gastropod and ostracod shells with varying levels of the isotope 18O. A small percent of H218O naturally resides in the lake water, but when temperatures rise, the proportion of H218O becomes greater.[11] Douglas Kennett’s data also show particularly long droughts between 200-300 C.E., 820-870 C.E., 1020-1100 C.E., and 1530-580 C.E. Short but very severe droughts also occurred in 420, 930, and 1800 C.E.[12]

From the data provided, it could be possible for the Mayan civilization to collapse because of the climate change, as the phenomenon that happened during those times was similar to the cause of climate change in this era. However, it is said that warfare also contributed to the collapsing Mayan civilization, so natural phenomenon is not the sole cause of the declining of the civilization. The warfare itself contributes to the death of the Mayans, not only through war, but also through extreme food shortage.

In conclusion, debates are still happening between scholars and the Maya civilization expertise whether the cause of the Mayan civilization to decline is because of climate change. However, looking at the history, phenomenon, such as deforestation, drought, and soil erosion, happened very often in the area. If we bring back those causes to the modern times, what happened during the collapsing of the Mayan civilization was aligned to the causes of climate change that we have known and scientists have concluded. It might not seem as though climate change is the primary cause of the declining, however natural disasters might contribute as the catalysts of the declining of the Mayan civilization.


  1. Staff (2009) “Maya” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,
  2. Mott, Nicholas (2012) “Why the Maya Fell: Climate Change, Conflict – And a Trip to the Beach?” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,
  3. Oh, Na Eun (2013) “Climate Change and the Decline of Mayan Civilization” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,
  4. Takepart (n.d.) “What is Climate Change?” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,


[1] Takepart (n.d.) “What is Climate Change?” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Staff (2009) “Maya” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,

[6] Ibid.

[7] Oh, Na Eun (2013) “Climate Change and the Decline of Mayan Civilization” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,

[8] Staff (2009) “Maya” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,

[9] Oh, Na Eun (2013) “Climate Change and the Decline of Mayan Civilization” Retrieved April 22, 2018, from,

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

Depression: A Threat to Economy

Author: Anisa Indira

Recently, mental health has been one of the world’s main concerns, especially to the World Health Organization (WHO). From their annual campaign, WHO specified 2017’s campaign for depression through Depression: Let’s Talk. They addressed people to take care of depression seriously since, although common, depression can create severe effects to the bearer (World Health Organization, 2017). In 2012, WHO announced that clinical depression has become an epidemic. Clinical Depression or simply Depression is a mental illness categorized as mood disorder which is triggered by prolonged stress. Depression affects the bearer in mood changes—such as sudden irritability and constant sadness—and in other health condition like gastritis and nerve damage (National Institute of Mental Health America, 2014). The emotional instability which people with depression face will often cause trouble to their daily activity. Often times, people with depression will feel hopeless and empty, which can lead to death by suicide.

Although the United Nations has published mental health guidelines for its member countries as an effort to reduce suicide rate caused by depression, the number still has not decreased significantly up until now—in average, 800.000 people die from suicide globally every year with the majority of the victims in their productive age (ages 15 to 29) (World Health Organization, 2018). The cause may vary; ranging from stress from economic condition to toxic intrapersonal relationship. Hence, this becomes a huge issue to many countries with demography problems. Nations with a low birth rate will find this issue as  concerning to avoid human resources shortage. Not only is suicide the main problem, but the disability that depression has caused to young people will make them unable to perform well in work. As a result, a state may have to bear the extra cost of mental health care to treat its citizens. The risk of economic loss is one of the main reason why depression is taken seriously globally (Wang, 2003).

In order to understand why depression can be harmful to the economy, we will take a look at an example. East Asia is a region with a shared demographic problem: a rapidly ageing population. Low birth rate coupled with a high population of elderly people are ticking time bombs that can lead to a population deficit—it even has happened to Japan, with a -0.27% deficit from 2017 to 2018 and a -30% deficit expectancy in 2050 (United Nations Population Department, 2018). Population regeneration is undoubtedly necessary to sustain development growth as part of human resources regeneration—it is the fundamental feature of an economic cycle (Lee, Mason, & Park, 2011). The elderly are less productive (or not productive at all) and more consumptive, while young people have more time and capabilities to work. A poor ratio between the elderly and productive young people will be a burden for the economy as its spending rate would well surpass its income rate. With that problem, East Asia is at risk to having unstable growth in the future, and high suicide rates among young people is not helping at all.

Another problem we will most likely face is a less productive population. With many young people suffering depression, they will be more hesitant to function properly at work. People with depression may find it hard to concentrate with their work or find joy in their activities due to a chemical imbalance (World Health Organization, 2012). Many cases happen where people with major depressive disorder (a spectrum of clinical depression) find it hard to find the motivation to go out and work. Most of them cannot leave the safety and comfort of their own spaces from the lack of energy—one of the symptoms of depression. Failing to perform well at work or being unable to work at all may obviously lead to unemployment, which would further burden the economy.

Raising awareness is a start to tackle this issue. Some people still find depression as a taboo topic (e.g. among Asians) which makes depression stigmatized. The stigmas around depression as a bizarre illness makes some people with depression hesitant to seek for professional help (Overton, 2008). With campaigns that show depression as a ‘normal’ health condition and clinically proven, it will be easier for people to understand that depression needs medical and psychological treatment. This approach can also make the family and close ones of people with depression to have supportive behaviors. Depending on the person, it usually will take a long time to cure depression (National Institute of Mental Health America, 2014). Less negative attitude from other people will ease the stress better. Another way we can take to prevent depression from crumbling the economy apart is to ensure that they get proper treatment with decent health facilities. Certified psychologists and psychiatrists, government or non-government bodies that are responsible in spreading information about mental health, hospitals, also appropriate medication are necessary to solve the problems we face at hand. With that being carried out, we would be able to lessen the economic burden caused by clinical depression.


  1. Lee, S.-H., Mason, A., & Park, D. (2011). Why Does Population Aging Matter So Much for Asia? Population Aging, Economic Security and Economic Growth in Asia. ERIA Paper Discussion Series .
  2. National Institute of Mental Health America. (2014). Mental Health: Depression.
  3. Overton, S. (2008). The Stigma of Mental Illness.
  4. United Nations Population Department. (2018). Global Mortality by Suicide. Retrieved from www.
  5. Wang, P. S. (2003). The Economic Burden of Depression and the Cost-Effectiveness of Treatment.
  6. World Health Organization. (2012). Depression: A Global Public Health Concern. Retrieved from
  7. World Health Organization. (2017). Depression: Let’s Talk.
  8. World Health Organization. (2018). Mental Health: Suicide Data. Retrieved from

Workplace Bullying: A Step Closer to Economic Downturn for Company

Author: Muhammad Fandy Zainuddin

One of the greatest assets that a company owns is their people; both the employers and the employee. And yet, it is ironic to learn that some companies are apparently in the midst of constant queries about whether they have taken care of this asset well, or perhaps that is one thing that they pay measly attention to. While we understand that companies are valued based on how much net income they could generate periodically, it is also essential for us to realize that all of those wealth will never happen without the dedication of all the people who work for them. In short, it is also about the human capital that the company has. Out of so many factors that constitute the human capital of the company, the mental well-being of the employee remains as one of the reasons why the company fails to fully leverage this significant asset.

As much as it’s often associated with, one of the major contributors of mental health disruption is bullying. Bullying knows no place nor time. It happens now and then, here and there. It could happen at home, school, social media, and also at the workplace. Due to the vast scope of its reach, the perpetrator of bullying can also be anyone. When we apply that principle to a company, bullying could occur in between employees, employers, employees and customers, and often times, between employers and employee. According to the research conducted by H. Hoel and C.L. Cooper, most of the perpetrators are supervisors. The second most common group is peers, followed by subordinates and customers1. This fact leads to another confusion on how does bullying exactly hatch and flourish within the company, and how does it actually occur.

The term workplace bullying itself was first initiated in 1992 in a book by Andrea Adams, where she talked about how to confront and overcome the perpetual issue that had never been addressed at that time.2 Meanwhile, it piques one’s interest that there hasn’t even been one universally accepted formal definition of what workplace bullying is ever since then.      Many researchers have endeavored to define it, namely Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf and Cooper3 who defined “Bullying at work means harassing, offending, socially excluding someone or negatively affecting someone’s work tasks. In order for the label bullying (or mobbing) to be applied to a particular activity, interaction or process it has to occur repeatedly and regularly (e.g. weekly) and over a period of time (e.g. about six months). Bullying is an escalated process in the course of which the person confronted ends up in an inferior position and becomes the target of systematic negative social acts.” On the same matter, Catherine Mattice and Karen Garman define workplace bullying with its effect to the economic viability of the company as “Systematic aggressive communication, manipulation of work, and acts aimed at humiliating or degrading one or more individual that create an unhealthy and unprofessional power imbalance between bully and target(s), result in psychological consequences for targets and co-workers, and cost enormous monetary damage to an organization’s bottom line”.4

Drawing a conclusion from the intersection of the two definitions offered, workplace bullying is characterized by any degrading or humiliating action that is done in repetition within a timely duration, including increasing aggression and existing power disparity. The examples of workplace bullying may include unwarranted or invalid criticism, being treated differently than the rest of the group, verbal abuse, being shouted at or being humiliated, excessive monitoring or micro-managing, being given unrealistic deadlines, being the target of practical jokes, blamed without justification, exclusion or social isolation, physical intimidation, excessive micro-managing, purposely withholding vital information, setting impossible goals for subordinates to reach, blocking potential training and employment, tampering with an employee’s personal belongings, and removing areas of responsibility without cause5. With all those examples of misconduct mentioned, it would be easier for us to identify how many workers are trapped within the workplace bullying prison and how much it economically costs the company.

According to a survey, 19%of employees have suffered workplace bullying at work, another 19% have witnessed it, and 63% are aware that workplace bullying happens. Another statistic also shows that in the United States of America, 60,3 millions of workers are affected by workplace bullying, in which that number is equivalent to a combined population of six western states6. With that numbers showcased, it’s no longer surprising that the effect of workplace bullying is growing even larger from the disrupted mental wellbeing and anxiety of the workers into the decline of company productivity, resulting with unavoidable economic loss.

Several studies have tried to quantify the cost that workplace bullying incurs to the company. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH) mental illness among the workforce leads to a loss in employment amounting to $19 billion and a drop in productivity of $3 billion (Sauter, et al., 1990). In a report commissioned by the ILO, Hoel, Sparks, & Cooper did a comprehensive analysis of the costs involved in bullying. They estimated a cost of 1.88 billion pounds plus the cost of lost productivity7. This number of loss is believed to be caused by human resources mismanagement where companies have neglected intangible assets such as the mental wellbeing of their own workers and resulting with the crystallization of bullying within the company’s culture.

To rectify this, there are a number of solutions that could be implemented by the Human Resources Department of a company, which includes:8

Workplace Policy & Procedures

A strong policy and workable procedures are key to managing workplace bullying and harassment issues. The policy should include a statement of commitment from senior management, making clear that it is unlawful, will not be tolerated and may be treated as a disciplinary offence. It should provide examples of unacceptable behaviour, outline prevention steps the organisation takes, and responsibilities of supervisory staff. It should define formal and informal grievance procedures, with clear processes for reporting bullying and harassment, information on investigation procedures and timelines, disciplinary procedures, and the rights of the employee under the existing regulations, including confidentiality and the right to be accompanied at grievance hearings.

Workplace Culture

Workplace behaviour, attitudes and knowledge are as important as policies and procedures. Managers should be trained in all aspects of the organisation’s policies as well as the company’s expectations, as it is often the behaviour of supervisory employees that drive the culture of an organisation. Additionally, all staff should be aware of the company’s standards of behaviour. An organisational statement is helpful in ensuring individuals are fully aware of their responsibilities, and what constitutes bullying and harassment. Guidance booklets and training sessions are also useful ways of increasing awareness of the damage bullying and harassment can do to an organisation and individual.

Dealing with Complaints

Employers must take reasonable and proportionate action upon receipt of a complaint of bullying and / or harassment. It should be investigated promptly and objectively with evidence gathered from all relevant sources before a decision is made.


  1. Informal Resolution: In some cases, matters may be rectified informally through discussions with the individual about their behaviour and agreement that it will cease. You can offer support from another staff member, a manager, an employee representative or a counsellor, either in-house or via a counselling service.
  2. Mediation: Mediation is a voluntary process where an independent third person finds a solution to the issue that both parties can both agree to. Mediators may be employees trained to act as internal mediators, or from an external mediation provider.
  3. Disciplinary Procedures: If you decide that the matter is a disciplinary issue, it needs to be managed formally according to the organisation’s disciplinary procedure, with a focus on fairness to both the complainant and accused. The Acas Code of Practice sets out principles for handling disciplinary and grievance situations, and employment tribunals are legally required to take the Code into account when considering cases.



  1. HOEL, H. and COOPER, C.L., 2000. Destructive conflict and bullying at work. Manchester School of Management, UMIST Manchester, UK.,
  2. Rayner, C., & Cooper, C. L. (2006). Workplace Bullying. In Kelloway, E., Barling, J. & Hurrell Jr., J. (eds.), Handbook of workplace violence (pp. 47-90). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  3. Stale Einarsen, Helge Hoel, Cary Cooper (2003). Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. London: Taylor and Francis. p. 15.
  4. Mattice, C.M., & Garman, K. (June 2010). Proactive Solutions for Workplace Bullying: Looking at the Benefits of Positive Psychology”. Archived from the original on 4 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  5. Jenni Gobind, Human Capital Review . Workplace Bullying: The Practical Application for Human Resource Practitioners.
  6. Gary Namie, PhD, Workplace Bullying Institute (2017).S. Workplace Bullying Survey.
  7. “The cost of violence and bullying at work”. International Labour Organization (ILO). Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  8. Libby Calaby (October 2016). Does Your Organization Properly Tackle Workplace Bullying. Human Results UK

Interculturalism: A Responds to Diversity in International Society

Author: Amelia Litania

Globalization is bringing about a new paradigm of super-diversity which is resulting in all societies becoming more culturally diverse. Interculturalism, as a new model which responds to this increasing diversity, rejects all forms of discrimination based on differences, instead embracing reciprocity and accommodation. Interculturalism theory is characterized by integration, cohesion, and intercultural dialogue. Compared to multiculturalism theory, interculturalism theory discusses how to make a society more cohesive and accommodate people from different cultures. Interculturalism features a stronger sense of whole. Therefore, usually in intercultural education, intercultural competence is highlighted in order to catalyze dialogue between people from different groups. However as a political ideas, one can not forget that positive qualities in terms of encouraging communication, recognising dynamic identities, promoting unity and critiquing illiberal cultural practices, each of these qualities too are important features of multiculturalism. With these two being compared, questions emerge if interculturalism is an ‘updated version’ of multiculturalism? If so, what is being ‘updated’? If not, in what ways interculturalism different, substantively or not, from multiculturalism? With a specific focus on the political, I try to evaluate in which conceptions of interculturalism are being positively contrasted with multiculturalism.

The Emerging of Interculturalism in Response of Diversity

The term ‘multiculturalism’ emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in countries like Canada and Australia, and to a lesser extent in Britain and the USA. In the writings of Ted Cantle (2012), he argues that interculturalism is the new era of cohesion and diversity. This perspective comes from his observation in a series of reports on Britain’s ability to deal with its growing diversity, beginning with his well-known inquiry into the causes of the race-related disturbances in northern England in 2001. He identified one of their main causes as being the ‘parallel lives’ led by different communities, or ‘living alongside each other but in separate spheres.’ Having based much of his analysis on the problems arising when people ‘retreat into their own identity’, he then proposed that ‘interculturalism’ should replace what he sees as the discredited policies of ‘multiculturalism.’

Still in the context of Britain’s diversity, response to multiculturalism comes shortly after David Cameron’s appearance in 2011. David Cameron’s crude attack on ‘state multiculturalism’ in his speech in Munich in February 2011 that was followed by similar speeches by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy (BBC, 2011). Many people see his action was to blame new communities for failing to integrate rather than seeing integration as a two-way process. In particular, Muslims were portrayed as a threat and the huge diversity between Muslim communities was ignored. The impact comes later when the potential violence of Muslim groups received so much attention as it turned out (in August 2011) that unpredicted riots were to erupt in British housing estates that had little or nothing to do with religion or race (The Guardian, 2011).

According to Cantle, by talking about the ‘failure’ of multiculturalism we have therefore allowed people to develop the view that it is the simple presence of different cultures, especially Muslim ones, that poses a threat. Some have argued as a result that ‘multiculturalism’ is a concept that is now so debased as to be no longer worth defending. However, I see that multiculturalism is not entirely no longer worth defending. To balance Cantle perspective, multiculturalism according to Moodod is a situation ‘‘when new groups enter a society, there has to be some education and refinement of …sensitivities in the light of changing circumstances and the specific vulnerabilities of new entrants’’ (2006: 61). This statement about multiculturalism is also support by Castle which emphasized advocacy of the right of minority and specifically ‘‘cultural maintenance and community formation, linking these to social equality and protection from discrimination.”

Interculturalism: Can It Be Achieved?

Interculturalism is considered as less ‘groupist’ and culture-bound society. It means that interculturalism want to achieve a more synthesised and interactive communities which build from a deep sharing of differences of culture and experience with each personal identities that go beyond nations or simplified ethnicities. Writing from the Quebec context, Gagnon and Iacovino (2007) are one example of authors who contrast interculturalism positively with multiculturalism. The interesting aspect is that they do so in a way that relies upon a formulation of groups, and by arguing that Quebec has developed a distinctive intercultural political approach to diversity that is explicitly in opposition to Federal Canadian multiculturalism.

According to Gagnon and Iacovino, there are five stages how interculturalism can be achieve. First, there should be a public space and identity that is not only about individual constitution or legal rights. Second, this public space is shared and counterbalance other identities that citizen values. Third, this public space should be created by participation, interaction, debate and common endeavour. Fourth, this public space is not culture-less but nor is it merely the ‘majority culture’, all can participate in its synthesis and evolution and while it has an inescapable historical character, it is always being remade and ought to be remade to include new groups. Fifth and finally, such a public space and so an object to which immigrants need to have identification with and integrate into and should seek to maintain as a nation.

In conclusion, interculturalism is not an update for multiculturalism. That is to say that while advocates of interculturalism wish to emphasise its positive qualities in terms of encouraging communication, recognising dynamic identities, promoting unity and reducing discrimination, each of these qualities already feature (and are on occasion foundational) to multiculturalism too. Moreover,multiculturalism presently surpasses interculturalism as a political orientation that is able to recognise that social life consists of individuals and groups, and that both need to be provided for in the formal and informal distribution of powers, as well as reflected in an ethical conception of citizenship, and not just an instrumental one. At the end, interculturalism as a political discourse is able to offer another perspective as a response to diversity and seek to that go beyond nations or simplified ethnicities.


  1. Cantle, T. (2008) Community Cohesion: A New Framework for Race and Diversi
  2. Palgrave Macmillan
  3. State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron, Diakses tanggal 01 Februari 2018 di
  5. UK riots: Birmingham’s Muslims and Sikhs debate response to tragedy, Diakses tanggal 01 Februari 2018
  6. di
  7. Castells, M. (2006) ‘Globalisation and identity: a comparative perspective’, Tran
  8. Contemporary Culture, 1 November. Barcelona: VEGAP.


SISBAC aims to connect young people to the experts from the Government and Embassy in discussing the latest and crucial issues that are related to International matters.

Talkshow Session

Previously, SISBAC was conducted by collaborations with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Japan’s Embassy in Jakarta, and etc.

Neta as President of ISAFIS, Mr. Curtis Johnson, Rizkinia Aliya, and Aliya as Moderator (left to right)

This year, 2019, first SISBAC was held on May 4 and we did collaboration with @america. We held discussion about “America Impacts in Indonesia” with Mr. Curtis Johnson (senior manager @america) and Rizkina Aliya (our alumni) as a speakers.

One of our audience ask to speakers

Countries cannot thrive without other countries, from the trade, education, tourism-relationships, to securities between countries are interwoven and influence the growth each sector. The links between the United States and Indonesia are a case in point.

ISAFIS Members Photo Group