09.01.2012 [News]

Boosting Social Sciences in Central Asia to help enhance Stability and Development

Boosting the research capacity of central Asian countries in the area of social sciences and humanities can contribute to regional stability and even attract tourism to the region. An EU-funded project worked towards to setting the base for achieving such goals.

Central Asian (CA) countries, located between China, the Middle East and Europe, are today experiencing a period of rebirth and nation building. However, ongoing border disputes, issues of ethnic diversity, diverse religious beliefs and economic reforms dominate their inhabitants' daily reality. This notwithstanding, their rich history and culture promise to make the region an attractive tourist destination in the near future.

Building on the positive aspects of the relatively new nations necessarily calls for improvements in their research capacity as related to the social sciences and humanities (SSH). The turmoil of recent decades resulted in huge losses to CA research and development (R&D) and an outflow of researchers. This has gradually been reversed; with efforts focused on modernising and reforming the region's research and education systems, prospects for the future are good.

'Fostering the rebirth of social sciences and humanities in the Central Asia' (Phoenix) is a project aimed to enhance the knowledge of the SSH community with regard to researchers and the level of R&D in the CA countries. Project partners planned to expand the area of action through workshops, seminars and other information gathering events. This will help to identify and promote potential collaboration as a means of boosting the acquisition of knowledge regarding new trends in SSH and its role in the European Research Area (ERA).

Project partners relied on the expertise of Member State (MS) partners as well as that of relevant EU-funded projects and collaboration networks to support the integrated set of Phoenix's networking and training measures for the CA SSH community. Against this backdrop, Phoenix members aimed to develop the potential for research partnership and networking across national boundaries with a view to encouraging the development of the area's resources without hindrance and reinvesting the resulting profits into development of the region as a whole.

To achieve this, research infrastructures, researcher salaries and the living standards of university staff must be improved. With the efforts of projects such as Phoenix and recognition of the importance of reforms, it is expected that national governments will work to accomplish this and thus also enhance the standing of the region's already existing first-class research centres.

Source and contact for further information: Result from the EU funded Phoenix project (FP6-CITIZENS programme), provided by Ülle Must/ARCHIMEDES, Estonia