UCA makes strides for mountains using education


The Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) of the University of Central Asia (UCA) is using education to make strides for mountains. The university has implemented programmes to educate undergraduates, graduate students and university faculty members. This month, UCA launched a post-graduate certificate programme in natural resources management and held a summer school on ”Learning Landscapes through Environmental Research and Monitoring” for undergraduate and graduate students.

The new, three-week intensive certificate programme launched on 15 July with 21 enrolled participants, including faculty members and researchers of Badakhshan University, Bamyan University, Khorog State University and the Aga Khan Foundation.

The course is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada as part of an ongoing project called “Pathways to Innovation: Strengthening Mathematics, Science, and Economic Policy Capacity in Afghanistan and Central Asia”. The project is a three-year, multifaceted initiative which focuses on innovative and applied research and training to strengthen individual and organizational skills in mathematics, environmental science and economic policy capacities. The project targets mainly civil servants, faculty members and researchers in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The objective of the programme is to strengthen participants’ understanding of natural resource management issues in mountain regions in order to enhance university faculty members’ research and teaching capabilities. Five integrated topics have been selected that best describe the most pressing natural resource issues in Afghanistan and in Tajikistan, including: concepts of sustainability and sustainable land management; integrated agricultural management and food systems; livelihoods in rural mountain communities; natural hazards and disaster risk reduction; and climate change.

Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, Dean of the UCA Graduate School of Development, stated: “It is very rewarding that this first teaching programme of MSRI has been offered to a group of people who are either academically or actively involved in natural resources management. We hope this is not the first and only educational opportunity, and we plan to continue the tradition of supporting small research projects in the universities of Badakhshan, Bamyan and Khorog.”

UCA is educating at all levels: their other project this summer was for undergraduate and graduate students. The MSRI and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) held their second annual summer school from 3 – 11 July at UCA’s Naryn Campus in Kyrgyzstan. The course participants included 22 undergraduate and graduate students from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan representing 10 universities.

The summer school was part of the Paleoclimate, Environmental Change and Social Interaction in Central Asia (PALESCA) project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

Sabrina Muzafari is a student who participated in the summer school this year. “I am excited about learning from researchers about their work and projects. There are engineers, biologists, oil-engineers and representatives from different sectors. Each of us looks at the questions and problems from a different angle, which creates very interesting discussions,” said Muzafari.

News and photo from Alma Uzbekova - UCA

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