Over the past three decades, the internationalization of higher education has become a priority in developing higher education in Uzbekistan and is considered an important tool in ensuring its economic stability. Through the Central Asia University Partnerships Program (UniCEN), administered by American Councils for International Education and funded by the U.S. State Department through the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT) and Namangan Institute of Engineering and Technology (NIET) designed collaborative approaches for research, administration, education, and workforce development.

In an online format, Dr. David Ader of UT-Knoxville’s Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture shared cotton research, Dr. Gretchen Neisler, vice provost for international affairs, discussed planning for international research, and Dr. Deborah Crawford, Vice Chancellor of the Office of Research, Innovation and Economic Development, presented best practices for building the research enterprise. Partners discussed ongoing development of international education programs, partnerships and student exchange programs, industry outreach, and collaboration opportunities in agriculture studies. UT-Knoxville created a YouTube playlist of webinars to disseminate the information for the broader academic community.

Faculty from the partnership used the opportunity to present a joint research project: “Skill Development Across the Globe: How Universities and Industries Can Work Together to Help Their Societies Prosper.” For this project, Dr. Reilman from UT-Knoxville utilized survey data from multiple universities in Uzbekistan to understand international workforce development initiatives, and Dr. Umarkhonov of NIET will support his efforts by recruiting survey participants from Uzbekistan.