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As a student on this program, you will look at the interplay between nomadic traditions, foreign engagement, economic development, and natural resource utilization in the context of Mongolia, a nation facing rapid economic and environmental change. You will scrutinize the multiple ways in which mining, conservation of pasturelands, grazing rights, and other resource management issues are shaping public and private life. For one to two weeks, you will live among nomadic herding communities and experience some of the most pristine natural environments in the world.
Many of my prior assumptions and fundamental beliefs were dismantled and reconstructed with some help from my peers. I have developed a deeper appreciation and understanding of the social dimensions of ecology. … Mongolia presented a fascinating opportunity to test the legitimacy of popular narratives that influence our national attitudes, beliefs, and policies
John Wendt, Colorado State University
The SIT Mongolia program consists of the following elements: a weeklong orientation, two thematic seminars including a weeklong internship at a local NGO, a research methods and ethics course, a rural and urban homestay, a Mongolian language course, and a four-week Independent Study Project.
Students on this program have the rare opportunity to:
* You will receive lessons during the semester. If possible, you should plan to bring a riding helmet. Riding boots may be purchased in Mongolia.
In the geopolitics and development course, you will focus on Mongolia’s path to political and economic development and the country’s current strategies for external relations and internal growth and attempts to diversify the national and local economies so they will not be dependent on mining.
Main topics of inquiry in the Pastoralism and Natural Resource Management seminar include:
In the geopolitics and development course, you will focus on Mongolia’s path to political and economic development and the country’s current strategies for external relations and internal growth.
You will analyze two key academic themes:
You will receive 45 class hours of language instruction beginning shortly after arrival. Classes are conducted by trained Mongolian language instructors and emphasize introductory speaking and comprehension skills. Further practice is available outside of class, including during the homestays.
In the final month of the program, you will conduct an Independent Study Project (ISP). This will provide you with an opportunity to pursue original research on a situation or topic of particular interest to you.
Possible areas of inquiry include a wide range of topics and study areas including:
The program’s coursework provides an essential foundation in Mongolian language, history, and culture, from which to springboard into in-depth discussions of Mongolia’s most pressing development issues. Key issues of examination include: Mongolia’s nomadic and rural society; the country’s young market economy; systematizing social support and providing for those in need; and the strengthening of governmental structures and oversight. Coursework is based on SIT’s experiential, field-based program model.
Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.
The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
This program allows you an intimate view of a good portion of Mongolia and is loaded with experiences. Well-balanced between classes and excursions, you learn as much in the classroom as you do outside the classroom.
Kara Pellegrino, Kenyon College
The SIT Mongolia program includes a number of excursions, which exposes students to life outside the capital city. Excursions vary from semester to semester based on seasonal and climate conditions, but may include one of the following:
In Erdenet, Mongolia’s second-largest city, you will learn about Mongolia’s manufacturing and mining industries, while contemplating the country’s past, present, and future in the context of one city. Erdenet is home to one of the world’s largest copper mines, Erdenet Copper Mine, which has been a central player in Mongolia’s development. Presently, the mining corporation is the sole copper concentrate producer and accounts for between one-fifth and one-fourth of Mongolia’s GDP.
During the excursion to Erdenet, if travel conditions permit, you will visit Amarbayasgalant Monastery, one of the largest and most beautiful Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. It is considered a sacred cultural landscape. You will meet the monastery’s small but thriving Buddhist community and attend their morning or evening ritual chanting, and you may have the chance to play soccer with the lamas.
You will travel to Dornogobi Province (East Gobi) to the site of Khamryn Hiid. The province is connected with the name of Danzan Ravjaa (1803–1853), officially known as the Fifth Reincarnate Lama of the Gobi. You will learn about the life and times of this extraordinary man, an enlightened master, a distinguished Buddhist thinker, and outstanding figure of the Mongolian Buddhist reformist movement of the 19th century.
Highlights of the excursion include:
Mahayana Buddhism is increasing its popularity alongside Islam, Christianity, and Shamanic practices. Onsite lectures and guided exploration of religious centers and sites will help you gain insight to a religious re-emergence that is taking place in Mongolia following the transition from a Communist government to a democracy in the early 1990s.
Field excursions to Mongolian nature sites, combined with formal lectures and seminars, will expose you to the environmental challenges and threats Mongolia is facing in relation to increased globalization. You will meet with policymakers, environmental NGO activists, and leaders of grassroots movements who are opposing destructive mining operations to protect Mongolia’s natural environment.
I chose the SIT Mongolia program because of its exciting and unorthodox take on abroad learning. I didn't want to be in a modern city or at a university for my time in a different country. The itinerary of this program was ideal. I wanted to see the land and the people as they are today in the environment they both live and love.
Chimi Lama, Smith College
Ulzii (short for Ulziijargal) Sanjaasuren, graduated from the Odessa State University in Ukraine and then taught English for 10 years at the University of the Humanities in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She later spent six years working as a program coordinator for international development organizations including UNDP, DANIDA, and the Soros Foundation. Her responsibilities included identifying priority areas for future projects and conducting onsite supervision and evaluation of project activities, while specializing in education development programs. After two years of freelancing, she joined SIT in 2000 and was one of the designers of the SIT Mongolia program.
Ulzii holds an MA in teaching foreign languages from the Pedagogical University of Mongolia. She completed her PhD coursework at the same university and has started her thesis on the application of cognitive language learning principles in course design. Ulzii is the author of several series of English language textbooks for secondary schools in Mongolia. She is a past recipient of the Mongolian President’s Prize – Author of the Best Textbook, 2002. In March 2009, Ulzii received an ELTons Award from the British Council, as team leader of the Mongolian Curriculum Development and Textbook Writing team. She is a full-time resident of Mongolia.
Baatar works with the academic director to help oversee the program's day-to-day activities. He assists the academic director with the design and development of homestays, both urban and rural, in addition to helping with personnel and contingency matters. Baatar has extensive in-country and international travel experience. Personal interests include photography, ethnography, and Mongolian history with an emphasis on the history of the Mongolian Buryad people. He is fluent in Russian and speaks intermediate English. Baatar holds a BA and MSc from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. He also holds a certificate in management of human resources from the Academy of Human Resource Management. His focus changed from engineering to education in early 2000 when he joined the SIT Study Abroad Mongolia program.
B. Shijir holds a bachelor’s in business management from Citi Institute of Mongolia. He has lived in Germany and the US and has worked as a translator and safety officer in Major Drilling Mongolia. He joined the SIT Study Abroad Mongolia program in August 2014 as program assistant and seminar coordinator. Like all the staff he has many hats to wear; in addition to his duties as the program assistant, seminar coordinator, and office manager, he acts as a translator in the field.
Z. Oyunbold holds a BA in international economics from University of the Humanities, Ulaanbaatar, in 2013. When in college, he worked as a translator for tourists during the summer breaks. After working in the private business sector for two years, he joined the SIT Mongolia program in January 2015. Despite his young age, Oyuka has experience living and traveling internationally and locally. For two years in a row he participated in “Work and Travel in the USA” program.
O. Maralaa, originally from Govisumber province, received her BA and MA in teaching Mongolian and English languages from the Mongolian State University of Education in June 2013 and January 2016. She worked at the School of Mongolian Studies at her alma mater for a year, and in January 2015 she joined the SIT Study Abroad Mongolia program. As language coordinator, she coordinates all language program activities and, when required, will teach language classes both in Ulaanbaatar and the countryside. In addition, Maralaa coordinates the Mongolian language textbook writing project and takes care of the program’s library.
Dr. Oyun Sanjaasuren delivers lectures for the thematic seminar focused on Mongolia’s present political and social development and Mongolia’s central government policy for nature conservation and green development. Additionally, she is a strong source of support and information for students’ Independent Study Projects.
Dr. Sanjaasuren is currently serving her fourth term in the Parliament of Mongolia. In addition to her duties as an MP, she is the head of the Civil Will Party, head of the Zorig Foundation, and president of the Mongolian Geological Association. She has also been elected president of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
Dr. Sanjaasuren received her BA and MA in geology in the former Czechoslovakia in 1987 and her PhD in earth sciences from Cambridge University in 1996. She started her professional career as a geologist in a Mongolian-Czech joint venture. She has also worked for a UNDP project and for Rio Tinto Ltd (UK). She is a former minister of foreign affairs and former vice speaker of the Parliament. She is one of the main initiators of anti-corruption legislation in Mongolia and is an avid advocate of education, democracy, and good governance. Dr. Sanjaasuren is one of the most prominent and well-respected women politicians in Mongolia. She was recognized as the Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in 2003.
Damba Ganbat is the director of the Institute for Strategic Studies of Mongolia. He is advisor to the president of Mongolia on research and a member of the Board of the Minister of Foreign Affair of Mongolia. Ganbat earned his PhD in political science from the Mongolian Academy of Science. From 1999 to 2010, he was an executive director of the Academy of Political Education. Now he is the chairman of the board of the academy. He is also a board member of the National Public TV/Radio, secretary general of the Mongolian Political Science Association, and member of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee in Political Science.
From 1996 to 1999, he served as an expert in the Foreign Aid Coordination Unit at the Prime Minister’s Office of Mongolia. He was also a counterpart of the projects supported by Konrad Adenauer Foundation/Germany and TACIS/EU. He is currently a member of the Asian Barometer Survey working group in charge of Mongolia (www.asianbarometer.org). Under his management, ABS has been conducted four times in Mongolia since 2002.
He has published various articles examining democratization, democratic and authoritarian values, elections, political party development, and principles of foreign and security policy of Mongolia.
Dr. Ganbat delivers lectures for the thematic seminar focused on Mongolia’s present political and civil society development and on key studies on Mongolia’s democratization process. Additionally, he is a strong source of support and information for students’ Independent Study Projects.
Mr. Badruun Gardi delivers lectures for the thematic seminars on the status of civil society in Mongolia and the urbanization process and discontent in ger (suburban) districts of Ulaanbaatar. He regularly advises students on their ISPs.
Badruun Gardi is the executive director of Zorig Foundation. He has previously served as the foundation's scholarship programs coordinator. Named after the leader of the democratic revolution of 1990, the late Zorig Sanjaasuren, the foundation aims to spread and strengthen democratic values in Mongolian society. Badruun is an adjunct fellow at the Urban Community Research Center for Asia at the Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan, and is a graduate of Stanford University, where he studied psychology and communication.
Ms. Onon Bayasgalan lectures on ecosystem-based climate change in Mongolia and adaptation strategies and water resource management policies.
Onon Bayasgalan works as a policy analyst at Wildlife Conservation Society, Mongolia. She holds a BA in environmental economics from Whitman College and a master's of environmental management in environmental policy from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is interested in environmental policy in fields such as sustainable pasture management, air pollution, global environmental governance and climate change strategies. She has dedicated time to youth education on global environmental problems, both for young students in primary school and for young adults seeking to further their careers.
Nicole Schaefer-McDaniel teaches research methods, ethics, and research writing and has been working with SIT since 2015. She completed her PhD in environmental psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2007 and postdoctoral training in urban health at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health in Toronto, Canada, in 2008.
She has a strong interest in improving the lives and living conditions of vulnerable people such as those experiencing social, political, and health-related injustices. Dr. Schaefer-McDaniel’s research and evaluation career spans more than 10 years, during which she has worked on projects focusing on homeless adults, people with mental health and substance use problems, access to healthcare, disadvantaged children and youth, and people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. She has written extensively for a research and policy audience and co-edited a handbook on urban health research.
Dr. Schaefer-McDaniel consults and teaches at the American University of Mongolia and is a visiting adjunct professor at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, School of Public Health. In addition to her academic work, she also writes about expat life and is an editor for the website Tales of a Small Planet (www.talesmag.com).
B. Bayartuul has been teaching Mongolian to SIT students since spring 2009. She graduated from the University of the Humanities (UH) as a teacher and translator of English. She holds an MA in linguistics from the National University of Mongolia (NUM). Currently, she is a PhD candidate at the same university. She has worked there a number of years as a Mongolian language teacher for international students.
Her research work focuses on second language acquisition and lexicology. She also published two textbooks on Mongolian grammar and a dictionary of synonyms for foreign learners.
Dr. D. Ganbold has been teaching Mongolian to SIT students since fall 2012. He graduated from the teachers college in Arkhangai as a primary school teacher. He received his next BA in Mongolian language and literature from School of Khovd, the National University of Mongolia. In 2001, he got his PhD in Mongolian language and culture studies from the Institute of Language and Literature at the Mongolian Academy of Science. He has taught Mongolian language and literature in Khovd and the Mongolian State University of Education. His research work focuses on ancient and religious Mongolian literature, traditional Mongolian script, and Buddhist studies. He has authored over 40 articles that were published in Mongolian, Russian, and Chinese.
I am grateful for the two incredible homestay experiences in the capital city and the countryside. The surprising differences and similarities between the two settings provided for both academic and personal growth. In the steppe, I used my basic Mongolian language skills to learn how to ride a horse from a man who did not speak English. Later, with the help of an SIT field coordinator, I was able to learn about the man’s worldview and his attitudes toward social and technological changes affecting the capital city. Only with SIT Mongolia is such a unique blend of experiences possible.
Pierce Gendron, George Washington University
You will live with host families in urban and rural areas to experience the diversity of contemporary Mongolia. You will have the opportunity to discover the cosmopolitan nature of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital and largest city, as well as the open expanses of the steppe or high mountains and rolling hills through homestays with nomadic communities.
Other accommodations during the program include apartments, guest houses, educational institutions, or small hotels.
You will experience Mongolian middle-class urban life, practice your Mongolian language skills, and test your new cultural skills in the context of a family in Ulaanbaatar. Host families are often excellent sources of contacts and information for your Independent Study Project. All host families live in apartment blocks located in various micro-districts of the city. Students typically form strong connections with their host families.
During this period of the program, you will attend lectures and language classes at the SIT program center and visit important cultural sites throughout Ulaanbaatar.
You will live with a nomadic community in either central or northern Mongolia, depending on the season and travel conditions. These communities regularly move in search of better pastures and water for their livestock in the steppe and the mountains. You will typically work with and learn from the nomadic community, actively participating in a wide range of daily animal herding and household chores.
Highlights of the nomadic homestay period include:
During the nomadic homestay period, you will also work on your Research Methods and Ethics assignments and language skills, synthesizing new information within the frameworks presented through the thematic seminars.
The homestays were perfect for practicing Mongolian.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.
Program Arrival Date: Aug 29, 2016
Program Departure Date: Dec 11, 2016
The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.
Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.
Application Deadline: May 15, 2016
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $ 160
Books & Supplies: $ 120
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.