Mongolia Initiative at UC Berkeley

January 1, 2016

With a generous gift from the government of Mongolia, UC Berkeley and the Institute of East Asian Studies are delighted to announce the establishment of the Mongolia Initiative. Under the Institute of East Asian Studies, the Mongolia Initiative will bring together UC Berkeley's diverse resources related to Mongolia. Mongolia is now being taught on campus for the first time in many years, the first Visiting Scholar has been selected, the library acquisitioogram is being expanded, and plans are underway for future courses and conferences on Mongolia.

The Mongolia Initiative Committee, comprised of UC Berkeley faculty, directs the agenda of the Initiative. Current committee members include Patricia Berger and Uranchimeg Tsultem (History of Art), Jacob Dalton and Brian Baumann (East Asian Languages and Cultures), and Sanjyot Mehendale (Silk Road Initiative Director and Vice-Chair of the Center for Buddhist Studies).

UC Berkeley has also secured funding from the U.S. Department of Education to begin teaching elementary Mongolian during the 2015-16 academic year and beyond. This National Resource Center grant recognizes UC Berkeley as a national leader for teaching and research on East Asia, including Mongolia. It funds the teaching of lesser-taught world languages, in particular Mongolian, which has been designated a critical language by the United States government.

The grant has also enabled new research activities at IEAS on Mongolia through 2018. An annual program comprising a major conference, lectures, and workshops is planned. Library acquisitions and cataloguing are a priority. Visiting scholars and student fellowships for Mongolian studies will further enrich the campus life and contribute to UC Berkeley’s vibrant Asian studies community.

The three-way partnership between U.C. Berkeley, the U.S. Department of Education and the Mongolian government is enabling not only a restoration of Mongolian studies at UC Berkeley, but will place Berkeley in a leadership role among world universities in advancing teaching and research on Mongolia. Ultimately it is hoped that Mongolian studies can be placed on the same permanent footing at Berkeley as that of other regions by establishing a permanent Center for Mongolian Studies at Berkeley that addresses both the historical and contemporary place of Mongolia in the world.