This course explores key topics in conservation biology and ecology through a Mongolian lens, taking a cross-disciplinary approach that highlights the centrality of Mongolian environmental ethics and traditional ecological knowledge to conservation. We will examine current topics in Mongolian conservation, including mining, protected areas, and wildlife, incorporating anthropological perspectives on animism and the so-called "ontological turn," how these interact with a scientific worldview, and how Mongolian practices - both "traditional" and those developed under Socialism - offer potential pathways for conservation practice. Students will have a reading each week. Classes will include short lectures and facilitated discussions on each topic.
Rebecca Watters is a wildlife biologist and writer who has worked in Mongolia since 2000, when she served in Kharkhorin as a Peace Corps environmental volunteer. She has worked with Tibetan refugee nuns in India, environmental activists in Cambodia, and ranchers in the Western US, but Mongolia is her second home. She currently works on climate change research and monitoring with three protected areas in Huvsgul Province, with a focus on wolverines, butterflies, and pikas. She has a MSc from the Yale School of the Environment, and a BA in anthropology from St. Lawrence University.