Steppe Ethnographies: Mobile Pastoralism, Cosmology and Development in Rural Mongolia

14 Days ◦ 2 Instructors and Support Staff

July 29 - August 11 , 2024 

Questions about this course? Email:
Questions about application or fellowships? Email:

During this 14-day field course you will join two anthropologists specialising in mobile pastoralists livelihoods, rural governance and development in their long-term field site location in Bayanhongor, Mongolia. Through immersive and experiential learning, including homestays with local herders, participants will gain a foundational understanding of ethnographic research methodologies, nomadic cosmologies and environmental ethics to cultivate insights on alternative approaches to land use and conservation. With field trips to county and provincial centers, including local markets, Buddhist monasteries and museums, participants will gain a deep introduction to the history of rural Mongolia and contemporary development policy and trends. Home stays with herders will enable participants to experience the daily routines of herders and gain an understanding of mobile pastoralist livelihoods, including traditional dairy production, felt and leather craft, and forms of kinship. The field course will conclude with an exhibition to illustrate the learning outcomes from the course.

A note on rural living in Mongolia - We will be staying with families in rural locations. We will spend several days at a time with limited access to showers or internet / mobile phone service. We will also be sharing meals with the families with which we stay. People who cannot eat meat or dairy will have a very difficult time as there will frequently be no vegetarian or vegan food available in these settings.

For priority consideration for fellowship awards apply by March 30, 2024.

Final deadline is May 30, 2024.

Course Overview

Anticipated Course Activities

Day 1 Jul 29


Orientation in UB

Participants will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with both the course faculty and fellow participants. They will acquire essential insights into Mongolian culture, history, and language. Additionally, participants will delve into the rich biodiversity of Mongolia, exploring its network of specially protected areas and understanding Mongolia's pivotal role in the broader global context.

Day 2 Jul 30

Photo of Ulaanbaatar buildings

Orientation in UB

Day 3 Jul 31


Travel to Bayanhongor

Day 4 - 12 Aug 1 - 9


Course Activities in Bayankhongor

Homestays with Herding Families in Bayanhongor, visits to local museums, Buddhist monasteries, participate in cultural festivals and activities.

Day 12 Aug 9


Return to UB

Day 13 Aug 10


Conference and presentations by participants on rural issues

Day 14 Aug 11


Program wrap up

Interactive Banner 2

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ariel ahearn - square

Dr. Ariell Ahearn

University of Oxford
Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Since 2004, Ariell has worked extensively in rural Mongolia with mobile pastoralist communities on the topics of land use, social change and rural governance and development issues. She specializes in qualitative research, using methods such as ethnographic participant observation, interviewing, mapping and immersive field work.
munkh-erdene gantulg - square

Munkh-Erdene Gantulga

University of Oxford
PhD candidate in Geography at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. He earned his BA in Ethnology and MA in Social Anthropology from the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, National University of Mongolia. He serves as the Executive Secretary of the Mongolian Anthropological Association and held the position of Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, National University of Mongolia.



"Attending the renewable energy field school was the best decision I made in 2019! I was already attending a fulltime graduate program in Canada, but the field school added rich value to my learning. As the world is becoming more globalized, looking at how Mongolia is responding to the challenges of supplying cleaner energy was a valuable experience. Our instructors came with a vast amount of knowledge and a passion to teach.’’

Liz B.

Participant of Mongolia Field School 2019
Batkhuu SQ600

"As a sociology major student, this program was very helpful to explore urban issues and migration processes in contemporary Mongolia. Through this program, I sharpened my academic capabilities while refining soft skills essential for my future studies.’’

Batkhuu B.

Participant of Mongolia Field School 2019

"The ACMS field school is a unique experience that has changed my life and teaching. In most programs, international participants are isolated from the country in which we are studying except for controlled visits to local people and sites. Not so with ACMS! Half of the participants in each field school are from Mongolia, ensuring that local and international participants have a chance to understand each other’s perspectives.’’

Janis M

Participant of Mongolia Field School 2019
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