The University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, and the University of Central Asia (UCA), whose central administrative office is located in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, have signed an agreement to enable UBC to design curriculum for 22 courses that will be used by UCA faculty members to teach the Earth and Environmental Sciences Program to UCA students.

According to UCA, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the President of UBC, Professor Santa J. Ono, and Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of UCA, in Vancouver last week.

“I am excited by this initiative and the chance to partner with a new university in an often underserved part of the world,” said UBC President Santa Ono.

“This partnership will not only allow UBC to have critical input into the development of new academic programs half a world away, but will also provide UBC instructors with the chance to reflect on their own courses and how they might be improved and adapted to different learning environments.  I look forward to seeing how the relationship evolves going forward.  I wish UCA success, as it seeks to serve the region’s mountain societies.”

“We are delighted at this partnership”, said Dr. Kassim-Lakha.  “It is my hope that in time the MoU we signed will enable our two institutions to also collaborate in other academic fields, conduct joint research projects, facilitate training of UCA post graduate fellows, and encourage faculty and student exchanges.”

Dr. Diana Pauna, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at UCA, said she was pleased with this important collaboration as it would strengthen the academic programs of UCA.  “The enthusiasm of UBC’s faculty in helping with this endeavor is very reassuring, and we look forward to launching this program as soon as possible.”

UCA was founded in the year 2000.  The Presidents of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and His Highness the Aga Khan signed an International Treaty and Charter to establish this secular, private, not-for-profit University.  The treaty was ratified by the respective parliaments and registered with the United Nations. The Presidents of the three host countries are Patrons of UCA, and His Highness the Aga Khan is the Chancellor.  UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences began classes in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, in September 2016, and the campus in Khorog, Tajikistan, is expected to open in September 2017.  UCA was established to offer an internationally recognized standard of higher education in Central Asia and prepare graduates to contribute leadership, ideas, and innovation to the economies and communities of the region.

UCA’s mission is to foster the socio-economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain societies, while helping the peoples of the region preserve and draw upon their rich cultural heritages as assets for the future.  UCA brings with it the commitment and partnership of the Aga Khan Development Network.

The University of British Columbia is a global center for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world.  Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning.  At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.