Wedged between Russia, its neighbor to the north and China, its neighbor to the south, Mongolia is the second-largest landlocked country in the world.
That happens to be where University of Kentucky faculty member Anita Lee-Post is currently doing her teaching and research after being selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for the fall semester of this 2013-14 academic year. Lee-Post, who joined the faculty of UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics in 1990, is an associate professor of marketing and supply chain.
Prior to coming to Lexington, Lee-Post earned her MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Her doctoral thesis centered on solving complex scheduling problems in business using flexible manufacturing technologies and artificial intelligence techniques. This use of technology and human ingenuity to solve business problems eventually led Lee-Post to her present research focus on how businesses can achieve superior performance through sustainable practices.
Thanks to an opportunity to work with a colleague from Romania who had come to UK as a Fulbright Scholar, Lee-Post's interest in pursuing a Fulbright herself was piqued. Having earned her bachelor's degree in business from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, then working in banking in Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, she had always been aware of Mongolia.
"I decided to put together a Fulbright proposal on how Mongolia can direct its economic development efforts toward the attainment of economic, environmental and social sustainability," said Lee-Post. Her proposal was approved earlier this year by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, with the cooperation of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.
Lee-Post's host school is Mongolia International University (MIU) where interestingly, subjects are taught in English only. MIU is located in the capital city of Ulan Bator, home to half of Mongolia's three million residents.
"Currently the Mongolian economy is growing at a rate of about 10 percent annually, fueled by a boom in mining," Lee-Post said. "However, this fast growth has brought about questions regarding the direction of economic development, its long-term sustainability, and its negative impacts on the environment and society. As nomadic herders are attracted to jobs in the city, providing sufficient transportation, sanitary facilities, utility and housing infrastructures is a priority to support Mongolia's urban growth."
Lee-Post is not the only faculty member with University of Kentucky connections at Mongolia International University. Professor Noel Horton, from UK's toxicology program, is serving as the dean of academic affairs at MIU.
Lee-Post sees plenty of benefits for UK students from her experiences once she returns to the Gatton College.
"In terms of teaching, I am planning to enhance my supply chain management course with sustainability content and a Mongolian perspective," said Lee-Post. "We also are very hopeful of establishing a cultural exchange betweeen MIU and Gatton students, and study-abroad opportunities in Mongolia for UK students across several different majors will be expanded."