As economies continue to expand in Southeast Asia, urban and rural landscapes are undergoing industrial-scale change at a staggering pace. A number of growing industries are responsible for these changes, from soil and biodiversity loss caused by palm-oil deforestation to rainforest flooded in the interest of “climate neutral” hydropower. To best understand the wide-reaching effects of these transformations, a radically interdisciplinary approach is needed to unravel the intersection between environmental degradation, economics and culture. Is the quest for biofuels and carbon-neutral energy to support burgeoning largely urban populations, sometimes in other nations, effectively shifting the environmental costs to rural communities? What are the trade-offs between economic development in rural communities vs. loss of habitat and traditions, as well as clean water and air? By exploring the complex intersections from a liberal arts and sciences perspective that attempts to view these challenges though interdisciplinary lenses, can we come to solutions to limit the damage before losses are irreversible? While the last may be an overly lofty goal, it is critical to have this approach as part of the conversation, as the siloed problem-solving methodology only gets us so far.