Program Details

Mongolia Field School 2020 offers courses in Media/Journalism, Literature/Music, Climate/Grassland Studies, Climate Change/Public Health, Buddhism/Natural World, Gobi Economic Development, Mining/Environment in over three sessions in Summer 2020.
Darhan, Mongolia; Saynshand, Mongolia; Erdenet, Mongolia; Arvayheer, Mongolia; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:

Program Overview

Program Description:

The Mongolia Field School 2020 is a summer program in Mongolia with 7 courses to be held over three sessions in summer 2020. The Field School provides a unique educational travel opportunity that is open to all participants, including undergraduate and graduate students, teachers and life-long learners. Significant numbers of scholarships are available for participants of all nationalities through the financial support of the Henry Luce Foundation and other donors. Previous experience with field studies or in Mongolia is not required for participation.

For Summer 2020, seven courses will be held across three sessions outlined below.

Pre-Session (June 8-12)

Open to take as an individual course, or as a pre-course prior to other full term Field School courses in Session 1 or 2

Visual Storytelling in Mongolia (Media and Journalism) 

by Peter Bittner, multimedia journalist

This course focuses on training in a variety of media formats, including journalism, video, photography, podcasts and other forms of storytelling, while also developing an understanding of key aspects of Mongolia’s culture and lifestyles. This course may be taken on its own, or to support preparation of projects within a full-term Field School Course.

Session 1 (June 15-July 3) allows participants to choose between two courses: 

Word and Sound in Mongolian Culture

by Dr. Simon Wickhamsmith, Rutgers University and Dr. Sunmin Yoon, University of Delaware

The program will give essential ideas of literary and musical forms and styles of Mongolian culture. Participants will visit sacred sites and local musicians and writers to understand the context of both the rural lives of nomadic herders and of the urban literary and musical scene. 

Climate Change and Herding in Three Mongolian Eco-zones: Incontrovertible Warning Signs and Local Responses

by Dr. Annika Ericksen from Gustavus Adolphus College and Dr. B. Batbuyan, Center for Nomadic Pastoralism Studies

Participants will have the opportunity to explore how climate change is impacting rural Mongolia and traditional lifestyles through visits to three distinct rural sites and interviews with herders and local environmental management professionals. Social, political and economic forces will be explored to better understand how local communities are working to adapt to a changing environment.

Session 2 (July 27-August 14) allows participants to choose from among four courses: 

Climate Change and Public Health: Heat, Fire, Flood and Drought on the Steppe

by Susan Higgins, Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity and Cathy Whitlock, Montana State University, Bozeman

Against the backdrop of the Mongolian landscape, participants will explore firsthand how climate change is impacting public health in urban environments and rural communities through short lectures, readings, site visits and conversations.

Gobi Futures: Navigating and Anticipating Change in a Transforming Desert

by Dr. Lauren Bonilla, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Munkh-Erdene Gantulga, Mongolian University of Science & Technology

New mining, infrastructure, and trade activities have generated unprecedented social and environmental changes in the Gobi desert region in southern Mongolia. The Gobi region has great economic and development potential, but faces environmental and social concerns. This course will examine the concerns of local people about rapid economic and social change, and the plans and projects that have been put forward to address concerns and support development efforts. 

Mongolian Buddhism, Nature, and Conservation 

by Dr. Betsy Gaines Quammen, Environmental Historian

This course will focus on the intersect between Mongolian Buddhism, Shamanism, nature ethics and environmental conservation. Participants will cover the history and philosophy of Mongolian Buddhism, and explore Buddhist influences upon current directions in ecological thought and practice in Mongolia, especially in confronting wildlife poaching, climate change and sustainability. 

Environment, Humans, and Mining in Northern Mongolia

by Gantulga Bayasgalan, Mongolian University of Science & Technology, Marissa Smith, Anthropologist, and Rebecca Watters, Wolverine Foundation.

This course focuses on the intersections of “modern” (scientific and engineering) as well as “traditional” (including Buddhist and shamanic) knowledge and knowledge practices on human-environment relations through the context of mining activities in the Northern regions of Mongolia.  


Participants may choose one or more of the courses offered. All courses are open to participants of any nationality and background, with past participants ranging in age from 18-80. The priority deadline for applications is March 1, 2020, and the final program application deadline is April 30, 2020.


Tuition for Field School classes in Sessions 1 or 2 is $2,900 for international participants, which covers program and accommodation costs in Mongolia, most meals, transportation within the country, instruction and site visits. Tuition for the pre-course is $1000. A significant number of scholarships are available for all participants through the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation and other donors.

Setting Description:
All Field School courses begin in Ulaanbaatar with an orientation to Mongolian culture, history, language and contemporary issues. Participants will meet with their instructors and classmates from Mongolia and around the world, and begin their learning journey. Class groups will then travel to selected sites across Mongolia where they will pursue field research, gaining an understanding of the topics studied in the context of the landscapes and people in the regions visited. All participants will have the opportunity to see important sites in Mongolia and participate in tourist activities, while also gaining the unique insights offered by their course leaders and the local people and officials encountered during the field studies.
2900 USD. The tuition is $2,900 for each of the full-sessions. The pre-session (Visual Storytelling in Mongolia) is $1,000.

Additional Program Information

The Program is open to undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, faculty and life-long learners from all nationalities and backgrounds.
Scholarships Description:
A significant number of scholarships of up to $2,500 are available, with awards based on merit, diversity and need. Please see the information on fellowship awards in the application for admission for more details.