Muskie Forges New Partnership between Kazakh and U.S. Universities
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Professor Michael Brown had never heard of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU) when Muskie fellow Askhat Yerkimbay began his studies at the University of Wyoming last fall. Six months later, Brown traveled to Almaty to teach a journalism seminar and to sign a formal cooperation agreement between KazNU and the University of Wyoming that will allow for future academic exchanges and collaboration between the two institutions.
With previous experience as the instructor for a course on new media at KazNU, Yerkimbay came to the University of Wyoming campus prepared to nurture a relationship between the two institutions. Yerkimbay found a willing collaborator for this project in Professor Brown. Beginning with their first meeting, Yerkimbay and Brown connected through a mutual enthusiasm for journalism and media studies. Brown describes Yerkimbay as being, “very focused on his studies” and “more like a professional than a student.”
When KazNU official Karliga Misayeva reached out to Yerkimbay for help in linking the university to American researchers, Yerkimbay connected Brown with Misayeva and with KazNU. This semester, Brown traveled to Almaty for two weeks and taught a series of seminars in the journalism department, covering topics such as mass media and society for undergraduate students and quantitative research methods for graduate students.
The trip culminated with Brown signing a formal cooperation agreement between KazNU and the University of Wyoming that outlines a commitment to future collaboration between the institutions. In discussing the agreement, Brown emphasized the similarities between Laramie and Almaty. The economies of both cities are closely tied to the energy industry and Brown would like to see additional cooperation between the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy and Natural Resources with KazNU.
The University of Wyoming is now preparing to welcome four KazNU students to its campus in May and June for a short-term academic learning experience. Sponsored primarily by KazNU, the students will get a chance to learn the basic principles for research in media studies. According to Misayeva, the students’ trip to Wyoming will fulfill one of the main purposes of the cooperation, which is to “ensure and increase students’ and teaching staff’s mobility in an international education process.”
For Yerkimbay, his role in forging this new connection is one way to fulfill his personal goal for the Muskie fellowship. Says Yerkimabay, “My main aim is to leave something that will be a permanent and positive contribution in my society.”
The Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program is administered by IREX and funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. In 2012, the Muskie Program celebrates 20 years of productive partnerships with leaders of Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Find more stories here.