Bridge to development

October 21, 2014
S Harrington

Marc Tasse is among Royal Roads graduates helping Mongolia take its place in the world.

For almost two years, the Master of Global Management alumnus has been resident director of the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) in the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar.

The centre, which is celebrating its 10th year, is a hub of academic study in the Central Asian country, which has rapidly developed since the fall of communism and its democratic revolution in 1990.

For Tasse, the role was a chance to put new skills and knowledge acquired at Royal Roads to the test internationally.

“I had a background in business development, both the private and non-profit sector,” he says. “I wanted a position that permitted me to use my administrative, project management and business skills in a new and challenging way.”

As resident director, Tasse is responsible for running the ACMS, overseeing its projects, training staff, including seven fulltime Mongolian employees, developing programs, and exploring new funding sources and research.

Royal Roads Associate Prof. Charles Krusekopf, founder and executive director of the ACMS, says the centre has more than 300 student and scholar members. More than $2.4 million in support has been provided to Mongolian studies programs through the centre, including field research and exchange fellowships. Notably, the centre boasts a 4,000 book research library, the largest English language library in the country, which is available for Mongolian people and visiting scholars to use.

“The ACMS plays a key role in building knowledge about Mongolia in the world, and in bringing the world of knowledge to Mongolia,” Krusekopf says. “We’re like the home away from home for international researchers in Mongolia.”

Besides the work Tasse is undertaking, six Royal Roads students are on internships this fall in Mongolia to support small and medium enterprise suppliers to the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine. They’re the second group to travel to Mongolia as consultants through an agreement signed in October 2013 between Royal Roads and Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the company developing a mine on one of the world’s largest copper-gold resources.

The small business consulting team now on the ground includes Bachelor of Commerce students Ryan Clarke, Brian Jette, Ryan O'Dell, Noelle Roces, James Rogers as well as MBA alumna Andrea Hanley. 

Krusekopf says although most news about Mongolia focuses on the country’s vast mineral resources, the ACMS is multidisciplinary, helping support researchers in the sciences, environment, humanities and social sciences, as well as the mining sector. Royal Roads, Krusekopf says, is continuing to look at new ways to strengthen its relationship with Mongolia.

As example of the broad work ACMS does, Tasse is working on two major research projects in partnership with Mongolia’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport, including modernizing the Mongolia public library system and training staff at 450 public libraries. The other project is in partnership with government and the Smithsonian Institute to develop an archaeological database of information for archaeological sites, museum artefact collections and archived material.

For Tasse, Mongolia is a unique and fascinating place.

“In many ways it is the perfect living laboratory for all kinds of research,” he says. “The quick pace of modernization and change allows economists, anthropologists and social scientists to see developments in a country that normally take decades, evolve in years within Mongolia.”

Tasse says the ACMS is a bridge between expatriates and Mongolians, one that will continue to play an important role as Mongolia develops in coming years.