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UW Adventurer/Journalist Mark Jenkins to Speak on Tibet-China History

September 12, 2017
person on horse with something slung behind saddle and rocky outcropping in background
This is among the images that Mark Jenkins, a field staff writer for National Geographic and a writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming, will show during his “Tea, Trade and Tyranny: Tibet and China Over Time” program this fall in six Wyoming communities. (Mark Jenkins Photo)

Adventurer and journalist Mark Jenkins, of Laramie, will share his experiences exploring the complex relationship between Tibet and China during a series of free public talks scheduled in six Wyoming communities this fall.

Jenkins, a field staff writer for National Geographic and a writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming, will present “Tea, Trade and Tyranny: Tibet and China Over Time” in Casper, Cheyenne, Douglas, Lander, Rock Springs and Torrington. The program is part of UW’s Global Studies Excellence Initiative and continues the “World to Wyoming” outreach series.

“Tibet and China have had a complex relationship for 1,500 years,” Jenkins says. “Wars have been fought, treaties signed and then ignored in the next conquest. But, there was always trade.”

In his presentations, Jenkins will discuss the forgotten Tea Horse Road. For almost 1,000 years, there was a stone-paved road that connected Ya’an, the tea-growing capital of Sichuan province, with Lhasa, the 12,000-foot-high capital of Tibet.

Tea was essential to daily life in Tibet, and China’s feudal kingdoms needed war horses. For centuries, China and Tibet were on equal footing, but the ascendency of China in the second half of the 20th century has devastated Tibet and Tibetan culture, Jenkins says.

With National Geographic images, Jenkins will present the modern lives of the Tibetans and the Chinese, and the geopolitics that have always connected them.

His talks scheduled this fall are in:

-- Casper, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m., Casper College, Wheeler Concert Hall.

-- Douglas, Thursday, Sept. 21, 6 p.m., Eastern Wyoming College, Douglas campus.

-- Torrington, Friday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m., Eastern Wyoming College, Fine Arts auditorium.

-- Cheyenne, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 6 p.m., Laramie County Library, Cottonwood Room.

-- Rock Springs, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m., Western Wyoming Community College, Room 1302.

-- Lander, Thursday, Oct. 5, 6:30 p.m., Lander Valley High School auditorium.

A critically acclaimed author and internationally recognized journalist, Jenkins covers geopolitics and adventure. Among hundreds of his stories, Jenkins has written about land mines in Cambodia, the war in Eastern Congo, the loss of koalas in Australia, ethnic cleansing in Burma, climbing Mount Everest in Nepal and the vanishing ski culture of the Tuvan people in the Altai Mountains of Central Asia.

Jenkins has won numerous writing awards, including the Overseas Press Club Ross Award in 2013 for “The Healing Fields,” a story about the landmines in Cambodia; and a National Magazine Award with colleague Brint Stirton for “Who Murdered the Mountain Gorillas” in 2009. Both projects provided the basis for statewide presentations at Wyoming’s community colleges as part of the “World to Wyoming” outreach series.

Jenkins has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in geography, both from UW.

Sponsoring Jenkins’ programs around the state are the UW Office of Academic Affairs, Rocky Mountain Power Foundation, Wyoming Humanities and Wyoming community college partners.

For more information, call Jean Garrison, UW Center for Global Studies director, at (307) 766-6119 or email

About the Center for Global Studies

The center advances UW to the next level of excellence in internationally focused, interdisciplinary research, Garrison says. Its mission is to enhance international competencies at home in order to prepare Wyoming students -- particularly the 90 percent who have not had international experiences -- as well as faculty, communities and businesses to compete and succeed in a global economy.

The center provides a model for creating and enhancing international fieldwork, research and internship opportunities for UW students, including establishment of graduate fellowships and scholarships to reward top students doing international research; research opportunities for UW faculty as well as the hosting of international experts/practitioners; and the sponsorship of outreach, speakers and symposia at UW and around the state.

Garrison says the center accomplishes its mission by providing access to funding and expertise, leading to expanded and enriched international experiences for students, faculty, the UW campus and the state.

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