The UCA Research Programme

The Research Programme was initiated in 2008 with the intention to establish UCA as a leading centre of academic scholarship for Central Asia. From its launch until the first day of the University’s graduate and undergraduate programmes, the Programme’s primary objectives are to strengthen academic inquiry in the region and provide a base capacity - in terms of knowledge, human resources, research products, and curricula - for the broad array of UCA’s planned programmes.
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Reflecting its commitment to excellence in research on issues related to sustainable mountain development, UCA has established its first research centre,  the Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) The MSRI is a university-wide, interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities within Central Asian mountain communities and environments. The MSRI's goal is to support and enhance the resilience and quality of life of mountain societies through sound research on the sustainable development and management of their physical, social, economic and cultural assets.

UCA’s Research Programme supports the work of outstanding Central Asian and international scholars who are conducting innovative research in themes that are an academic priority for UCA and reflect regional priorities. Through a dedicated Research Fellowship Programme, UCA provides financial assistance, logistics, and other facilities to support field-based research, participation in conferences, workshops and seminars, as well as the publication of original works in journals.

Initial research areas of focus include:

  • Cultural Heritage and Social Resilience
    An investigation of Central Asian musical and oral traditions, religion, philosophy, and on the role of cultural traditions in the formation of national identity.
  • Economic Livelihoods
    Mostly focused on the high prevalence of labour migration that is a significant source of income for a large proportion of the population, researchers are studying the social and economic impact of migrant labour on the well-being of families.
  • Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and Land Management
    Projects examine aspects of sustainable land management including pasture management, vegetation and biodiversity, cultivation of indigenous crops, and climate change resilience through traditional knowledge. The results have immediate and applied benefits for pastoralists, farmers, foresters, and development practitioners.

Emerging themes of research include Local Governance and Public Policy, Human Resource Development and Economic Growth, Asian Economy and Central Asian Markets, as well as Health in Mountain Communities.

The Programme places a premium on forming partnerships with institutions and scholars from around the world who have an interest in conducting research in Central Asia. Alongside their individual research, UCA’s partners play a critical role in increasing the capacity of regional scholars by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and peer review mechanisms. UCA hosts Fulbright Fellows, graduate students, and independent researchers. UCA has preferential university research partnerships which currently include the Carleton University, Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern, Kyrgyz Slavonic University, Michigan State University, Norwegian Forestry Group, Rakurs Center for Economic Analysis, Tajik Agrarian University, University of Regina, University of Salzburg, and University of Toronto.

UCA is also developing base infrastructure for research at the University and for scholars interested in Central Asia more broadly. UCA’s Research Data Warehouse (RDW) is a central repository of primary and secondary data, research and multimedia documents offering many advanced features like remote web access, document preview, RSS, ISBN integration, a powerful search engine, as well as advanced mapping and GIS connectivity.

The programme is growing into an International Centre charged with addressing the mountain aspects of environmental, economic, and social change and creating evidencebased policy and project recommendations for communities, governments and the private sector.

UCA has been recognised for its mountain research capabilities and has been selected to host the Central Asian node of both Mountain Partnership and Mountain Forum. UCA is an active member of many research and advocacy networks including Eurasia Pacific Uninet, the Himalayan University Consortium, and the International Mountain Society.