Last week, the Tian-Shan Policy Center hosted a series of meetings at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) centered around the planning and design of the courses aimed at enriching geospatial curricula of the members of the Open Society University Network (OSUN). The meetings brought together members of the AUCA, Anita Tarnai (OSUN’s Network Collaborative Program Manager), Viktor Lagutov (Director of the OSUN’s GeoHub Project and Head of the Environmental Systems Laboratory at the Central European University (CEU), and Chrys Margaritidis from Bard College.
The focus of the meeting at AUCA revolved around the network-wide courses related to geospatial data mapping and analysis offered by GeoHub in the upcoming academic year with generous support from OSUN. A series of courses will introduce Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite imagery analysis and their applications in relevant domains and will be open to students from AUCA, CEU, Bard College, and the wider OSUN community during the academic year 2023/24.
Two OSUN courses approved for the Fall semester would be catering to the growing demand for GIS skills. The first joint course will be taught in person as part of a wider OSUN Network Collaborative Course "Introduction to Geospatial Data Visualization" - the "GIS for Liberal Arts" at AUCA and "Introduction to Geospatial Data Visualization I & II" at CEU. This course will provide students with hands-on experience and practical applications of GIS and build up students’ interest and ability to apply these tools in both academic research and further professional career. The second course, OSUN’s Online Course "Mapping the World with QGIS" will be offered online, allowing students to explore QGIS, a free and open-source cross-platform application, as a typical GIS software.
The course series will be continued in the spring semester by onsite OSUN courses focused on geospatial analysis, enriched by internships with external organizations (including United Nations agencies) and summer school at CEU in the summer of 2024. Students who successfully completed all educational activities will receive the joint GeoHub certificate.
By expanding the availability of GIS courses and incorporating them into the curriculum, CEU, AUCA, and Bard College are empowering their students with crucial geospatial skills and providing them with a broader understanding of diverse cultural contexts. These courses will equip participants with both theoretical understanding and practical skills in visualizing societal and environmental phenomena.
OSUN Network Collaborative Courses are co-designed and taught simultaneously across two or more partner institutions. These courses aim to foster a new model of global higher education, with deep partnerships among diverse institutions, addressing global challenges collaboratively. By integrating curricula, research, and civic engagement across partners in different countries, OSUN envisions a network that promotes a more inclusive and culturally aware educational experience. OSUN Online Courses are taught by faculty from a single institution and delivered virtually to students from multiple OSUN partners. Such courses provide opportunities to participate in dialogue with students across the globe and benefit from a diverse and dynamic learning environment.