Discovering The Sonic World of The Mongolian Countryside
14 Days ◦ 3 Instructor and Support Staff
June 2 - June 15 , 2023
Join our mission to learn about the sonic spaces of the forest-steppe rangelands of the Mongolian countryside. Scholars from two projects, one funded by the US National Science Foundation and the other by NASA, are conducting collaborative research in central Mongolia, Arkhangai Province, that focuses on the use of soundscapes to understand biodiversity patterns and cultural change as reflected in the changing herder sonic practices.
You will be added as a member of a US and Mongolian research team that uses a new collaborative discovery approach called knowledge co-production. Herders in the countryside, scientists and scholars in the humanities are co-producing knowledge to understand how the natural and sociocultural system of these rangelands are changing and how sound can be used to assess these changes.
During this intensive, 2-week course, you will be introduced to the theories and practice of knowledge co-production, a variety of nature sounds recording techniques used by soundscape ecologists to study animal biodiversity in grassland and forested systems, the use of space-based and drone-based technologies to map habitats, and the use of passive acoustic sensors and data mining techniques to understand the complexity of natural soundscapes.
The course is designed to be both participatory and hands-on and geared towards those interested in the new concepts of soundscapes to understand how our natural and sociocultural world is changing. Course material will be introduced at a very fundamental level in order to make these new concepts and technologies accessible to anyone with basic knowledge of how to use a computer, tripod and place batteries in electronic equipment.
The course will be useful to the general public interested in the sounds of nature and the songs of Mongolian herders, to those interested in learning how to use computer programs to process audio recordings, to those interested in understanding data mining of large ecological data. High school science teachers, undergraduate and graduate students at US and Mongolian universities are encouraged to enroll. Individuals from the general public with interest in learning about how science is conducted in rural settings, how to use the very latest recording technologies, would find value in the techniques and concepts being used in this very transdisciplinary set of research projects. Some camping will be required. Assignments will be essays and a report.
Participants will complete the following assignments:
- Assignment #1. Sound Reflection Essay #1 (after a soundwalk with herder & after an evening of campfire singing of local songs)
- Assignment #2. Hands-On Microphone Recording Session and Soundscape Analysis Report
- Assignment #3. Rangeland-Herder Systems Essay - What are the main components of this system? How are they changing? How is sound part of this system?
Reflection essays will summarize your own thoughts and opinions on this new research approach called knowledge co-production. Topics that you might consider include: what did you learn? what level of trust is required to conduct this kind of research? What assumptions does an international researcher need to consider when doing this type of work? Reflection essays are also shared and discussed in group discussions. An assessment essay is one that does a more in-depth analysis of a topic using your own observations as a means to make an argument for or against an idea.