Syslab hosts a meeting to foster Geohub collaboration with AUCA

March 2, 2024

Last week, the Environmental Systems Laboratory (Syslab) at the Central European University (CEU) hosted a number of meetings dedicated to the exchange of project ideas between the students from the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) and the OSUN’s Network Collaborative course Introduction to Geospatial Analysis (IGA). The event aimed to create a creative space for researchers coming from various backgrounds to share their project ideas and pin the question of how GIS and geospatial technologies can support them, sparking active debates and insights-sharing.

AUCA partners visited the CEU Campus in Vienna for a series of meetings that brought together Daniyar Karabaev (Director of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Department at AUCA), Kanat Sultanaliev (Executive Director of Tian Shan Policy Center at AUCA), Otabek Nigmatov (CEPF Project Specialist at AUCA), and Viktor Lagutov (Director of the OSUN’s GeoHub Project and Head of the CEU's Syslab). Students and faculty from the OSUN network were able to participate in the hybrid meetings. 

The participants, generally represented by young researchers, say the experience of sharing their own projects publicly and performing as analysts to guide others’ efforts is motivating and inspiring, which showcases how OSUN’s courses grow the professionalism among the students and promote the spirit of curiosity, collaboration, and science-based approach to problem-solving.

One of the meetings provided an opportunity for match-making between the AUCA students with humanities backgrounds and the GIS-skills-equipped students from CEU. The potential collaboration ideas stretched across such topics as finding the local narratives to establish the bond between communities’ livelihoods and the environment, pasture management, promoting authentic and sustainable lifestyles of Central Asian ethnicities, etc.

The visit concluded with enthusiastic discussions about potential future collaborations between the students and researchers from CEU, AUCA, and other institutions. Several project ideas were put forward, including applying geospatial analysis to study socio-ecological management, glacier melting assessment, air quality improvement, supporting sustainable tourism development, and promoting authentic cultural heritage preservation.

The success of the meetings highlights the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration and mutual learning. As Viktor Lagutov summarized, "Bringing together researchers from diverse backgrounds fosters creativity and innovation. The students showed great motivation in applying their geospatial skills to real-world problems, guided by the domain experts. I'm confident we will see some promising project proposals for the GeoHub network to support."

Building on this momentum, CEU's Syslab plans to host similar match-making events on a regular basis. "The potential for fruitful collaboration is immense," says Viktor. "I am excited to see these young researchers put their heads together and develop geospatial solutions for various socio-economic, environmental, and cultural fields."