Central Asia is the ancestral homeland of the apple. Over the past decade, a team of scientists from Washington State University and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University conducted groundbreaking research on apple genomics to combat future crop diseases. Nearly 60% of all U.S. apples are produced in the state of Washington, contributing to $2.5 billion.

Innovation is a key focal point for Washington State’s economic engine, as it is home to global technology and media companies that began as startups. In 2018, the government of Kazakhstan launched Digital Kazakhstan, a $1 billion initiative to accelerate the digital economy.

Leadership at Washington State University’s Carlson College of Business saw an opportunity to advance business education with higher education institutions in Kazakhstan, given the existing research collaborations.

“Business does not just operate in the European Union, but we realized that our faculty focused on Europe and needed expand further around the world and get faculty to think in different ways,” says Ms. Jessica Cassleman, Director of the Institute of International Business. “We never thought about Kazakhstan until we learned about the research collaborations already taking place across campus.”

With a grant administered by American Councils for International Education and funded by the U.S. Department of State through the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan, the Carlson College of Business expanded its partnerships with Narxoz University and Eurasian National University in the areas of business research, curriculum, education, and pedagogy.

In spring 2019, Ms. Cassleman and Dr. Sung K. Ahn, Associate Dean for International Programs, visited the campuses of Eurasian National University and Narxoz University to identify new partnerships for business and entrepreneurship education.

Washington State University engages faculty as “ambassadors” to expand their research areas and support a move toward practical methods for students to gain skills. WSU recognized the role their faculty could play in serving as external mentors for Kazakh Ph.D. students and offer opportunities for them to conduct research at WSU.

Business students are also required to complete an international experience to graduate. Dr. An and Ms. Cassleman outlined steps to establish unique, faculty-led study abroad programs.

Since the visit to Kazakhstan in spring 2019, Washington State strengthened its commitment to expanded collaborations. “All Kazakhstan’s universities indicated that they need international faculty to support their PhD students as mentors,” says Ms. Cassleman. “We have international business fellows interested in the field and we are looking forward to seeing how many partners we can develop. For the whole college, this is a gain.”

Evergreen Opportunities

In May 2019, Dr. Madina Subalova, Chair of the Management Faculty and a Research at Narxoz University, and Dr. Armiyash Nurmagambetova, Director of the Center of Entrepreneurship at Eurasian National University visited their colleagues at Washington State University to better understand American approaches to entrepreneurship teaching and university-industry relations.

A private institution, Narxoz University is a leader in Kazakhstan higher education. Eurasian National University, established in 1996, is a comprehensive university that has recently prioritized entrepreneurship education to advance its international rankings.

The delegation visited WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research & Extension Center to learn about the university’s extension model, which engages researchers to the surrounding community and business needs. “One of our faculty members is an amazing researcher in horticulture, who started a company in fruit trees,” notes Ms. Cassleman. “We see that entrepreneurship principles for faculty would help deepen applied research for Kazakhstan.”

Dr. Subalova and Dr. Nurmagmbetova visited Seattle-area companies, including aerospace manufacturer Boeing, civil engineering firm McKinstry, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories to better understand industry-university collaborations. Faculty at the FUSE Accelerator, an on-campus entrepreneurship center that is open for all students, provided insights on how it builds entrepreneurship skills by working with local business mentors.

As a result, the Carson College of Business looks forward to deepening relationships with Ph.D. students and faculty, who are open to modifying their curriculum and mentorships. Business faculty would like to co-publish at a higher level, using case study method.

In addition to business education, Washington State University continues to see further alignments with their own Ph.D. programs in agriculture and community involvement in entomology, epidemiology, and crop production. In late 2019, Dr. Zagipa Sapakhova, Laboratory of Genetics and Breeding, Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology at the Kazakh National Agrarian University, spent 12 weeks at WSU as a prestigious Borlaug Fellow funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct research on sustainable wheat production.

About The Partners

Washington State University Carson College of Business

Since 1890, Washington State University has inspired the next generation of problem solvers in the fields of healthcare, clean energy, food production, economic opportunity, and security. The Carson College of Business stands among less than 2 percent of business schools worldwide that have achieved full accreditation in both business and accounting from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)—the longest standing and most respected international business program accrediting entity.

Narxoz University

Since the university’s founding in 1963, Narxoz University has been the premier economics and business university in Kazakhstan. The Narxoz Business School offers internationally recognized faculty in fields ranging from data analytics to social entrepreneurship to future studies and forecasting. Five research institutes and centers engage in high-impact research, project and policy work that serves Kazakhstan and the region.

L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University

L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University Founded in 1996, L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian University comprises 28 scientific institutions (research institutes, laboratories, centers), 13 schools, and cultural and educational centers of different countries. The system of specialist training at the university is conducted on the bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. levels in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and military science.