This month, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Darrin Magee is among the international faculty teaching an interdisciplinary field school in Mongolia in partnership with the American Center for Mongolian Studies.
During the three-week program, Magee is co-teaching a class on “Mongolia’s Energy Transition” with Royal Roads University Professor of Business Administration Charles Krusekopf. The students, including Mongolian and North American participants of all ages, are exploring renewable power development such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power for both local and regional use.
During the first week, the field school is based in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, with orientation activities for the programs courses, which in addition to Magee’s energy course explore archaeology and migration.
“We’ve had guest speakers from renewable energy companies, and the Energy Regulatory Commission, and have visited a company called Sopoco that makes solar panel, battery and DC appliance packages for Mongolia’s herders who are decidedly off-grid,” Magee explains. The course will also visit the Salkhit Wind Farm, Mongolia’s first utility-scale wind farm.
In the other courses, “Northern Mongolia Salvage Archeology and Public Engagement” and “Migrants, Migrations and Contemporary Livelihoods in Mongolia,” students are exploring cultural heritage tourism and public anthropology, and are examining rural-urban migration in Mongolia — both the reasons people move to urban areas and the reasons they remain in rural areas.
The field school program, including merit and need based scholarships, is supported through the Henry Luce Foundation. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Foundation undertook its earliest work in honor of Luce’s parents, missionary educators in China. The Foundation advances its mission through grant making and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art and public policy. In 2011, HWS received a $400,000 grant from the Luce Foundation to support expanding Asian environmental studies at HWS and across other liberal arts campuses, an initiative directed by Magee.
Magee has lived and worked in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. His research and teaching address water, energy, large-scale hydropower and other water infrastructure and waste issues including the specific problems of electronic waste. He holds a Ph.D. in geography and an M.A. in China studies from the University of Washington, along with a B.S. in mathematics and B.A. in French from Louisiana State University. He joined the HWS faculty in 2008.