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Program Focus

This program brings together two aspects of our world—the natural world and the world of human activity.  We will combine and draw connections between (1) geology and (2) natural history of Mongolia, two subjects that are best taught with real examples – observing features and phenomena in the field – and (3) culture. Intertwined with the rocks, minerals, water, and landscapes are the ecosystems that have formed among them and the land use. The two industries contributing the most to the GDP of Mongolia are livestock herding and mining. This alone demonstrates the strong connection of Mongolians and their economy to the land, its rich natural resource.

The life of the nomads of Mongolia is a visible example of how landforms, mineral resources, weather, vegetation, and other aspects of land shape people’s lives.  Likewise, we need to understand how we shape the land – are we using its resources in a sustainable way? What type of conservation practices might be important to implement? The essence of this abroad is to learn to draw connections between geology, natural history, and the people. We will do this as a moving learning community, traveling through parts of Mongolia, observing deserts, steppes, forests, and mountains, and meeting with Mongolians of all walks of life. We will also spend time in the capital and only city of Ulaanbaatar. As a learning community, we will share our insights and discoveries, and assist each other in our explorations.

The Mongolia Abroad is a two-quarter multi-disciplinary learning program.  During spring quarter, 2010, we will have a 2 QH Orientation Seminar (Special Studies 280) that will include preliminary research on topics you pick for each of the three summer courses. During summer, 2010, we will spend a few days in Beijing and then seven intensive weeks in Mongolia—learning about the geology, natural history, culture, religion, history, politics, economics, geography, and arts of Mongolia. Students will conduct on-site research for each of the three courses (geology, natural history, and country studies) and become our resident expert in those areas. As such each student will instruct the group on these topics and write a paper or essay on some aspect of each of their topics. On-site research may include field observation of features on cross-country travel, accompanied by discussion and analysis; visits with nomads and Mongolian college students; meetings with public officials and private citizens; tours and lectures; and personal reflection.