American University of Central Asia - AUCA - 2021 - 2022

PREF 2021 - 2022

Collaborative Teaching Materials Website: Open Syllabus Platform

Ilias Suvanov, Instructor, ECO

General overview: 

The Collaborative Teaching Materials Website: Open Syllabus Platform aimed to create Open Syllabus Platform where AUCA students, faculty, staff, and researchers have access to upload, add, edit, modify and bring changes in teaching and learning materials, as well as participate in open discussions on the materials. The platform will be free of access and have zero cost of maintenance making it sustainable in the long term. The Open Syllabus Platform differs from the existing AUCA Moodle LMS in a way that any person can collaboratively work on editing and advancing learning materials published on the platform's pages. Video, audio, photo, interactive graphs, and applications can be added to the system by students, faculty, and researchers upon their wish. The Open Syllabus Platform will also be more straightforward in its intuitive design and better search box, and more importantly, the solution is serverless. Students can also take an active part in editing, publishing, and developing learning materials while sharing their insights and views which makes the in-class learning engaging and collaborative. 

Budget of the project: $2500,00 USD

Action plan: 

The Open Syllabus Platform will be hosted on GitHub Pages with the Jekyll engine using Markdown language. It will consist mainly of five parts: the search box, which will allow students easily navigate hundreds of pages of teaching materials giving them opportunities to find connections between different courses; the auto-generated sidebar with metadata of course sections, that will ease navigation through course materials; the window with teaching materials themselves that can contain, interactive graphs, formatted text, schemes, videos and podcast audios, widening spectrum of learning materials; the “Edit” button on the upper right side of the website that will allow students and teachers to edit, correct and add new materials; and the discussion forum that is accessible through “discussions” on the upper right side of the website. 

Primary outcomes: 

Open Syllabus Platform is accessible HERE

Creation of the GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory at AUCA

Zheenbek Kulenbekov, Associate Professor

General overview:

The Creation of the GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory at the AUCA project aimed to develop a geoinformation system of river basins, and terrestrial and human data that serve as a tool for analyzing and solving a wide range of issues in the field of common interests of the transboundary basin region in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. The use of the created GIS and RS laboratory at AUCA contributes to the formation of holistic ideas about the state of the natural environment and the resource base in the conditions of the current oncoming moment of the impact of climate change, man-made and anthropogenic load. This power computer will help us to continue our research activities in the project called ‘Assessment of Water and Land Resources of Small Transboundary Tributaries of the Amu Darya River Basin Using GIS Technologies. That research presents some possible updates of the research results obtained relating to the Karatag and Surkhandarya (Uzbekistan) River basins analysis for water quality analysis by Remote Sensing Observations and surface water content using Earth Observation methods for analysis in the fall of 2021. Also, the results of such research will increase the number of scientific publications in international journals, thereby contributing to an increase in the AUCA ranking among universities in the world as well as training students of the Environmental and Earth Science Department at AUCA. Carry out training for students and young faculties involving them in the scientific projects and will be trained within the course of GIS Application in Environmental Management and Earth Science in the fall semester of 2021.

Budget of the project: $3000,00 USD

Action plan: 

A powerful computer was purchased and installed at AUCA. Its main element is electronic thematic maps, which require a powerful computer (32-bit RAM) for graphic works with dual monitors and a powerful video card. For the creation of the geo-information support for agricultural, hydrological, climatic, ecological, social, and economic research of the river basins the space images georeferenced in QGIS, R-program for statistics, SWAT plug-in, and also GRASS plug-in for remote sensing data will be used as cartographic support and very useful for decision-makers. Thematic maps will be created by means of developed GIS objects (GIS vector, raster layers, and their arrangement in the form of cartographic materials), which will be helpful and useful for students to learn landscape morphology, geological rock types, and environmental issues using thematic maps.

Primary outcomes: 

1. Department of Applied Geology and Environmental Sustainability and Climatology jointly opened a GIS and remote sensing laboratory. GIS is a geographic information system and remote sensing is Earth sensing data.

2. The laboratory includes software that allows the design of spatial maps, as well as conducts remote sensing of the earth based on images from space, and makes a variety of thematic maps in both geology and ecology. For instance, a geological map of a certain area, lithological maps, or classifying the earth's cover, analyze weather data in the field of studying climate change. Thematic maps allow us to make the right and more accurate decisions.

3. The GIS laboratory allows AUCA students to learn how to use modern software such as QGIS, ArcGIS, GMT, Mike Hydro Basin, and Micromine, and create a variety of 3D, ecological and hydrological models, visualize the terrain, study minerals, and ecosystems. 

Read the full article on the project HERE

Dusty Data Project: Digitalization of Archived Statistical Data

Akylai Muktarbek kyzy, Assistant Professor

General overview:

The Dusty Data Project: Digitalization of Archived Statistical Data aimed to digitize archival documents in Kyrgyzstan and host them on the AUCA Economics website for further use by students, faculty, staff, and researchers. Since a lot of the administrative data from the period of the Soviet Union is stored in Archives in Kyrgyzstan, it seems that this administrative data from lone gone periods is of no use to anybody these days, however, multiple types of research have shown that our present conditions are being to a certain extent shaped by events from the past. The epochal events of changing nomadic style to sedentary style not only changed the economical thinking of the native population but also had a massive impact on the psyche of the masses. This administrative data will allow us the mechanisms that are shaping our society today. The perennial question of corruption, injustice, and poverty could be much better understood with past data.

Budget of the project: $2500,00 USD

Action plan: 

Project members visited Archive Agencies to transcribe original documents to Excel, Doc, or PDF formats to digitalize them. The digitalized data was uploaded to external hard drives and uploaded to iCloud (Google Drive). The metadata of digitized documents is collected in the master spreadsheet. The front-end of the website is built with Algolia Search Engine in the back-end that will query data from the master spreadsheet and show the query result in the User-Friendly Window. The final report is prepared and submitted, with key steps and outcomes described, and with links to all digital outputs provided. 

Primary outcomes: 

1. The digitized archival documents are available HERE.

2. The architecture of the Dusty Data Project consists of three parts: 1) transcribed documents from the Kyrgyz National Archive Agencies; 2) the digitized data uploaded to Google Drive and the metadata of digitized documents collected in the master spreadsheet; 3) the front-end of the website is built with Algolia Search Engine in the back-end that will query data from the master spreadsheet and show the query results in the User-Friendly Window.

Final digitalized project is available on the


Integration of International Innovative Practices of Climate Fresk and Model COP for Climate Education and Engagement in Kyrgyzstan

Samar Kanatov, Undergraduate Student, ECO

General overview:

The Integration of International Innovative Practices of Climate Fresk and Model COP for Climate Education and Engagement in Kyrgyzstan is an educational project to address the climate change problems and students' awareness and engagement at AUCA in promoting environmental sustainability and climate change issues. 

Budget of the project: $2000,00 USD

Action plan: 

The project is planned to have more than 200 direct beneficiaries and hundreds of those impacted indirectly through further dissemination of Climate Fresk workshops by initial participants and media campaigns at the University and public level. 

Primary outcomes:

The 4 major events in the framework include:

1. First Climate Fresk training for prospective facilitators — February 5, 2022

On February 5, 2022, AUCA hosted the first training for trainers in the Central Asian region on the Climate Fresk tool as part of Action for Climate Empowerment. More than 20 university professors, eco-activists, and young environmental leaders played the Climate Fresk Game at AUCA. It is widely acknowledged that academia plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable behaviors and cultivating an understanding of climate change. Inspired by the global Initiative SolveClimateby2030 of Bard College, AUCA became the springboard for launching the internationally acclaimed climate education game Climate Fresk. AUCA‘s trained facilitators (Olga Tarabashkina, Cholpon Aitakhunova, and Samar Kanatov) coordinated the event by involving professors, eco-activists, and students. During the workshop, the 25 participants had their first stage of Climate Fresk training, which is a starting point to the further journey as facilitators. The training was followed-up by online meetings as preparations for the next larger-scale climate teach-in.

2. Big Climate Fresk teach-in for universities of Bishkek — February 26, 2022

On February 26, the second Climate Fresk workshop took place as a part of the global teach-ins on climate in the framework of the OSUN SolveClimate 2030 project and “The Policy Action for Climate Security in Central Asia” project funded by the UK Government and implemented by UNDP in Kyrgyzstan. After the initial introduction of educators to the tool on February 5, this stage of training involved both teachers and students. The participants of the first stage, after preparations for facilitation, attended the event with their students to facilitate a teach-in under the supervision of official AUCA Climate Fresk trainers. More than 100 students from 10 universities took part. This “Big teach-in” was a breakthrough for the acceleration of climate education across universities in Bishkek, exercising the Climate Fresk tool. Thanks to the event, the Bard College Worldwide Climate Teach-ins initiative broadened its reach far beyond AUCA. The results were quite encouraging for the potential of integration of Climate Fresk in formal education programs and participation of Kyrgyzstan in the SolveClimate2030 campaign.

3. AUCA on-campus workshop — April 16, 2022

On April 16, a Climate Fresk training was organized for the AUCA community, involving more than 40 people, students, staff, and faculty. The participants represented more than 12 different AUCA departments. The event was an opportunity for them to not only learn about climate change but also explore the relevance of the phenomenon in their respective study fields and prospects for research in those. They also heard from Seth Feary and Olga Tarabashkina, AUCA Sustainability Task Force members, on the importance of long-term thinking, aspiring for sustainable approaches in different sectors, and climate action on a personal level. AUCA students, staff, and faculty were invited to join the Climate Fresk facilitators for climate education projects and become trainers through the online Climate Fresk platform.

4. Water and Climate Security Program — May 28, 2022

On May 28, 2022, a joint project of the American University of Central Asia and the Youth for Water Network of Central Asia, the Water, and Climate Security Program, was launched. The project is being implemented in the provinces of Osh, Batken, and Jalal-Abad with a view to promoting quality education on water resources and climate in extremely vulnerable regions of Kyrgyzstan. From the three regions, the program brought together 30 "Water and Climate Ambassadors" among young leaders and teachers of the region. The program participants received basic training, which will also be followed by additional online seminars to further become Ambassadors of Water and Climate Education for conducting training and advocacy in their communities. On 28 May, the training focused on introducing potential local leaders to water issues in the context of climate change and the importance of such knowledge for sustainability in such vulnerable communities. The expert speakers at the national and subregional levels presented the context of the Central Asian Water and Climate Youth Movement, education for sustainable community development, and water career prospects for young leaders. The Climate Fresk workshop was held at the training, which is one of the tools that participants will use in their role as ambassadors for the education of local communities. 30 participants received general knowledge and applied tools in the field of education for sustainable development. Along with young people willing to work in awareness-raising, teachers are ready to revise their curriculum with the introduction of environmental lessons. The next stage of the program will be the online training of participants and the launch of their activities in informing local communities. At the beginning of the ambassadors' journey, they will be able to receive mentorship from the team and experts if they need support and advice for successful educational activities. 

Conclusions: Throughout these events, the project showed success in introducing and disseminating the Climate Fresk tool in Kyrgyzstan, evident in the number of interested parties and reports of some of them running climate workshops on their own. All the events within the project were conducted with the support of the Presidential Education and Research Fund (PREF) Grant of AUCA in close collaboration with several other parties, including the Central Asia Youth for Water (CAY4W) Network, a joint project of UNDP and UK Government, and SolveClimate2030 Initiative of Bard College. A part of the initial project vision, namely the “Model COP” simulation event, was not implemented due to the unavailability of the envisaged partners, but the resources anticipated for this part were reallocated/redesigned for other events.  AUCA representatives in the implementation team are Olga Tarabashkina, Cholpon Aitakhunova, Seth Feary, Mumina Abdulvohidzoda, Zhamilya Lansarova, Aiturgan Noiabidinova, Aiturgan Uraimova, and Samar Kanatov, not including the representatives of partnering organizations. Future vision and plans beyond the project include translation and adaptation of Climate Fresk in the Kyrgyz language and a wider popularization of the tool in the provinces of Kyrgyzstan not yet covered.

*This publication is written by Samar Kanatov, AUCA Undergraduate student, ECO

Measuring and Mapping Walkability in Bishkek

Otabek Nigmatov, MAANTH Student

General overview: 

The Measuring and Mapping Walkability in Bishkek project aimed to map streets in Bishkek and measure and evaluate the walkability of Bishkek streets using its various dimensions developed in the previous study. The research had strong policy implications and it is devoted to being used by the City Mayor’s Office to reveal the most problematic neighborhoods, which require improvements. In addition, created maps and data can also be useful for the Soros Foundations and SILK's current ongoing project City Dashboard – an electronic online database of various indicators of city performance.

Budget of the project: $2000,00 USD

Action plan: 

It has been planned to conduct the research under the supervision of Emil Nasritdinov, Associate Professor, who also was a part of the previous study conducted in Spring 2021. Emil was the major advisor of the project to guide on theoretical and methodological aspects of the study to produce analysis and visualization of collected data. Apart, literature review, polishing research methodology design, fieldwork, data entry and analysis, mapping, and writing the paper were major activities within the project.

Primary outcomes:

1. The quality and the use of sidewalks using 10 main indicators of walkability in Bishkek streets were measured: width of sidewalks, type & quality of pavement, inclusiveness, green space between sidewalk and road, obstacles for pedestrians and bikers, trees, street lights, benches, trash cans, access to bus stops.

2. The main platform for processing the data was the QGIS – software that allows complex mapping and analysis of spatial information.

Read the full report HERE

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