The Central Asia University Partnerships Program (UniCEN) successfully conducted its inaugural capacity-building workshop in Tajikistan on June 15 and 16, 2023. This training program aimed to bolster the internationalization efforts of Tajik universities and enhance the abilities of Tajik educators to initiate, develop, and execute international collaborative projects. It also fostered institutional ties and cooperation between higher education institutions (HEIs) in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
A total of 26 administrators, faculty members, and researchers from Central Asia participated in the workshop. Tajikistan was well-represented with delegates from nine HEIs, including esteemed institutions like the Tajik State University of Commerce (TSUC), Tajik National University, Tajik State University of Law, Business and Politics, Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, University of Central Asia, Tajik Technical University, Dangara State University, National Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, and the Technological University of Tajikistan. They were joined by counterparts from eight Uzbekistani universities who traveled to Dushanbe to showcase their collaborative projects undertaken as part of UniCEN and explore avenues for cooperation with their Tajik counterparts.
American Councils for International Education played a crucial role by providing firsthand knowledge about internationalization approaches and strategies adopted by U.S. universities, equipping participants with valuable practical guidance on establishing partnerships with U.S. institutions.
Guiding the workshop attendees was Mr. Saidqosim Mukhtorov, the Head of the International Center & Global Engagement at the Institute of Economics and Trade of the Tajik State University of Commerce. Mr. Mukhtorov, with his extensive knowledge of the local context and personal experience working with U.S. universities, including a successful UniCEN project in collaboration with Old Dominion University, was excellently positioned to advise and guide the participants.
In preparation for the workshop, American Councils staff distributed several practical guides, including an Introduction to U.S. Higher Education, an Internationalization Planning Guide, and a manual on creating and implementing international virtual exchange projects through the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) model.
Beyond the thematic sessions, presentations, and networking activities, the UniCEN team organized an interactive exercise to enhance participants' cross-cultural collaborative skills. This activity involved small groups comprising both Tajik and Uzbeki peers. Each group was tasked with developing an international partnership proposal and presenting it to the rest of the participants. The proposals had to include a problem statement, a brief description of planned activities, a budget, and a monitoring and evaluation plan. Winners were selected based on the project's relevance, clarity of implementation strategy, feasibility, and budget justification. The exercise proved highly successful, garnering positive feedback from the audience and effectively breaking down communication barriers between counterparts from the two countries.
The program in Dushanbe marked the conclusion of UniCEN's series of capacity-building workshops scheduled for spring to summer 2023. The preceding workshops encompassed the Sustainability and Grant Writing Workshop in Tashkent on November 4-5, the Internationalization Workshop in Bishkek on March 25-26, the Research Methodology Workshops in Tashkent (April 27-28) and Samarkand (May 1-2), and the Advanced Research Methodology Workshop in Almaty on June 9-10.
Funded by the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent and administered by American Councils for International Education, the Central Asia University Partnership Program (UniCEN) strengthens the capacities of U.S. and Central Asian university administrators and faculty to collaboratively address global challenges. Since 2018, UniCEN has facilitated over 75 partnership grants, enabling U.S. and Central Asian universities to modernize curricula, develop jointly taught courses, and conduct impactful research.