First ACMS Mongolia Field School brings home adventure

Jennifer Rathwell

Mongolia boasts some of humanity’s most vivid history. The wide open rural lands of grassy steppes, herds of horses and starry night sky stand in contrast to the modern urban setting of Ulaanbaatar, the arrival and orientation city for the first American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) Field School. Led by Royal Roads University (RRU) Master of Business Administration in Executive Management program head Professor Charles Krusekopf, the group experienced a happy collision of travel, learning and research and came home with memories to last a lifetime.

Students from across North America joined RRU students from the Master of Global Management (MGM) program and the Bachelor of Business Administration – Business and Sustainability programs to undertake field studies in public archaeology, migration and renewable energy. Krusekopf, the founder of the ACMS, organized the field school, and funding from the Henry Luce Foundation supported students to be able to participate in the trip.

Liz Brown, a Royal Roads student in the MGM program, chose the energy concentration and was able to apply the field work to her RRU online research analytics course.

“We talk a lot about international trade and economics in global management, so I thought it would be interesting to apply what’s happening with energy as it relates to biophysical, geopolitical and socioeconomics,” says Brown. “And I love adventure. I’m not one to go to a beach resort for my time off.”

The energy group visited Salkhit Wind Farm, Mongolia’s Energy Regulatory Commission, and a solar panel factory that sells panels to Mongolian herdsman for use on their Gers. While there was down time, it was no restful holiday for Brown. She focused on her research analytics course, designing research on a proposed dam site in the Egiin Gol Valley that could lead the country toward energy independence. Experiencing rural Mongolian culture also made memories for Brown.

“They’ve got all their horses grazing, cows grazing, it’s starting to get dark and now it’s time to herd all the animals in for the night, and how do they herd them in? With their motorcycles!” Brown says. “It’s easy to stereotype an area with what you think you know, but it’s so rich and complex and it’s a very unique place.”

Krusekopf emphasizes the ability to be completely off the grid when traveling to rural parts of Mongolia, which does not necessarily mean you are on your own.

“You’re never really alone in Mongolia, because people are everywhere with their animals. If you’re in a car and without cell service and you break down, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with no one around, within an hour, someone rides up on their horse to see what’s happened,” he says.

The field school will run again next summer, and details for the upcoming trip will be posted this fall on the ACMS web site. The trip is open to all Royal Roads University staff, faculty, students, or any interested person. Brown says all you really need to take the trip is to “have an interest and be up for adventure.”