The OSCE Academy is a regional centre for post-graduate education, capacity building, research and regional dialogue. Since its foundation the OSCE Academy has established a wide network of partner institutions – in most cases think tanks and research institutes – inside Central Asia and in Europe. Most often these contacts reflect the support the Academy receives from donors among the participation States of the OSCE. The partners provide the OSCE Academy with intellectual input and often serve as hosting institutions for the students of its two MA programmes while they conduct their internships, a mandatory part of the studies programme.
This exchange has been quite successful yet also unidirectional (Academy to partners) and limited to internships in institutions, not encompassing academic or study exchange. The OSCE Academy, supported and tasked by its Board of Trustees during regular sessions on 1 November 2017, 5 June 2018 and 17 October 2018, has set the goal to develop exchange opportunities for the students as well as faculty and staff and to that end seeks to increasingly build up cooperation with universities, in particular with those located in Europe from where support to the Academy is strongest.
The OSCE Academy’s strategy to internationalise its study programmes stems, second, from the intrinsic need to overcome regional barriers in studying and conducting research. Enrolling students from all Central Asian countries and Afghanistan, both Master programmes follow a concentration on issues and questions directly related to processes of transformation and development in the wider region of Eurasia. The influx of visiting professors from European partner institutions does mitigate against the narrowing of perspectives. However, the need for the Academy’s students to be exposed to comparative views, to learn approaches and models not directly linked to debates on Central Asia, and to experience diverse cultural settings in which studying and researching takes place, is ever more pressing when global developments threaten to re-essentialise public discourse and, implicitly, the academic debate. The same holds true for the permanent teaching staff of the Academy that seeks chances to contrast established teaching practices with innovative approaches applied abroad, and to engage into collaborative research projects with new partners in Europe.