This is an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility project of the Faculty of Humanities with two partners in Uzbekistan.
Leiden University coordinator:
- Faculty of Humanities, project coordinator: Elena Paskaleva
- Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies
- Al-Biruni Institute for Oriental Manuscripts
Type of mobility:
- Staff and student exchange
This project contributes to building a long-term collaboration between Leiden University and Central Asia, particularly with Uzbekistan. We will continue our partnership with the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies (TSIOS) and the Al-Biruni Institute for Oriental Manuscripts. Given the fruitful collaboration so far, Leiden University would like to expand this partnership by initiating a third Erasmus+ mobility project (2020-2023) with a major focus on PhD students. The objective in this particular project is to provide for the exchange of more PhD scholars, who will contribute their recent research experience and up-to-date knowledge on the availability of research sources. In addition, the Uzbek PhD students’ international research experience will advance their academic careers in the long run, and will open new possibilities for future international research.
Central Asia is a premodern highway of global interactions and the New Silk Roads are increasingly important, being at the centre stage of geopolitical interests. The Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) offers a unique environment for Central Asian research and education. In the framework of the Central Asia Initiative, established in 2015, we have created an active platform for the study of Central Asia by uniting and consolidating existing expertise and initiating new international collaboration. The involvement of Central Asian scholars in the teaching at LIAS is an indispensable part of the curriculum. Our Erasmus collaboration has increased the visibility of Asian Studies in the Netherlands and abroad.
Teaching Central Asia at Leiden University
In 2016, two new BA and MA courses on Central Asia were established and offered to students of Asian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Eurasian Studies and International Relations at Leiden University. They proved to be very successful, as shown by the extremely positive student evaluations. This new Erasmus+ project will directly contribute to teaching Central Asia Studies at Leiden University. Given the fruitful collaboration so far, Leiden University would like to expand this partnership by initiating a third Erasmus+ mobility project (2020-2023) with a major focus on PhD students. The objective in this particular project is to provide for the exchange of more PhD scholars, who will contribute their recent research experience and up-to-date knowledge on the availability of research sources (e.g. archives and local library collections). In addition, the Uzbek PhD students’ international research experience will enhance the academic quality of their dissertations, improve their research methods and introduce them to recent Western theoretical frameworks. In the long run, this will advance their academic careers and will open new possibilities for future international research.
Internationalisation of higher education in Uzbekistan
The government of Uzbekistan has pursued the internationalisation of the country’s higher education since its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In this context, Uzbekistan has encouraged the implementation of the European structure of a national quality assurance system and a Western-style credit system. Uzbek higher education institutions are active participants in Erasmus, which aims at supporting the academic mobility of students and staff, and at strengthening inter-university cooperation. In particular, there is already strong inter-university cooperation between Leiden University and several Uzbek universities, with signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) that meet the objectives set by the Uzbek Ministry of Higher Education. This Erasmus+ mobility project will meet the following targets in particular:
- participation of Uzbek academic staff and PhD students in international collaborative initiatives;
- fostering foreign exchange;
- establishing international training programmes.
The exchange between Leiden and Central Asian academics will unite and consolidate the existing collaboration between Dutch and Uzbek scholars. In the long run, these activities will directly contribute to the creation of an active and competitive academic network at all the partner universities.
Al-Biruni Institute for Oriental Manuscripts
With more than 18,000 volumes, the Al-Biruni Institute houses the largest collection of Arabic, Persian and Turkic manuscripts in Central Asia; the collection has been nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Access has been improved since a new building was inaugurated in March 2018. These new facilities allow foreign scholars to study the manuscripts in a contemporary working environment. The new Erasmus project will provide direct access to the Al-Biruni collection for Leiden scholars and PhD students. From the research perspective, the research aspects of the Al-Biruni Institute coincide with the research appointments at LIAS, a Leiden University research institute.
Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies
From the perspective of education, the teaching aspects embedded in LIAS have strong parallels with the exclusively teaching portfolio of TSIOS. TSIOS offers programmes in Oriental and Asian languages, followed by literary and historical seminars that overlap with the LIAS syllabi. The administrative structure of TSIOS, with five faculties and a student body of local and international students, is also very similar to the organisation of Leiden University. The inter-institutional collaboration between the selected partners therefore offers numerous opportunities for the smooth transfer of teaching and research skills.