Environment, Humans, and Mining in Northern Mongolia
July 25- August 12, 2022
19 Days ◦ 3 Instructors
Visit northern Mongolia where the young Temujin became Chinggis Khaan in the Khentii Mountains, where many rivers flow into the Selenge River to Lake Baikal, and where the two second cities of Darkhan and Erdenet were established in the 20th Century. Explore the intersections of “modern” science and engineering with “traditional” Buddhist and shamanic knowledge as they are expressed in local human-environment relations.
Led by Mongolian geoscientist Gantulga Bayasgalan, Californian anthropologist Marissa Smith,and Montanan ecologist Rebecca Watters, this Field School focuses on intersections of “modern” (scientific and engineering) as well as “traditional” (including Buddhist and shamanic) knowledge and knowledge practices on human-environment relations, with a particular emphasis on mining activities in Northern Mongolia. Participants in this program learn from Mongolian experts and professionals about not only their goals and concerns, but also their ways of addressing and achieving them with special scope on environmental issues from mining.
Participants will have the opportunity to interview and participate in professional meetings, discussions and activities of their interest, directed by instructors as well as local Mongolian counterparts.
After the orientation in Ulaanbaatar, the course will move to the Yoroo area of Selenge aimag.
This region is not far from Ulaanbaatar, just east of Darkhan, and is one of the oldest and most active areas of mining in Mongolia, as well as a natural area with beautiful scenery just west of the Khentii Mountains. Participants will stay at the Ecoland camp, where they will meet with scientists, conservation specialists, and policy-makers.
Planned speakers include Members of Parliament who have worked to address mining-related issues, as well as experts from the nearby Khan Khentii Protected Area (Mongolia’s Protected Areas are in some ways analogous to American National Parks, though in other ways very different). Participants will visit Khuder and Bugant towns, where active mining takes place. This area is also associated with Chinggis Khaan and his special relationship with the local mountains, a theme that will be explored with local Mongolian experts. After several days of programming in Yoroo, course participants will head west through the second and third largest cities in Mongolia, Darkhan and Erdenet. Erdenet is a copper-molybdenum mining town dating from the Soviet era. The itinerary will include sessions with mining engineers, to learn about technologies of mining area reclamation, reforestation, and efforts to lower emissions in Erdenet. In addition, the participants will have an opportunity to meet with Buddhist monks for religious and spiritual understanding to deal with nature, human impact on the environment and its consequences. During this part of the field school, participants will stay at a ger camp near Erdenet in a forested area with wild berries, deer, and freshwater streams, and engage with Mongolian experts in the region. The ride back to Ulaanbaatar will be via overnight train through the famous and picturesque Orkhon Valley.
At the end of the course, students will have experience in human-environment relations with special emphasis on mining activities in Northern Mongolia. They will have an opportunity to properly analyze, plan, discuss and present the results with best management practices for many
issues confronting locals. Students will be able to visit active mining areas and will be able to engage in meaningful discussions on common environment and sustainability topics with both professionals and the public.
Furthermore, through their assignments, students will learn how to propose, design and implement a research project on environmental and social issues based on the knowledge they obtained. This is an interdisciplinary course that incorporates aspects of environment, geology-mining, sociology, humanities, sustainability science, religion, cultural heritage and other fields.