Director, Mountain Societies Research Institute, Graduate School of Development, post at UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL ASIA


Director, Institute for Research on Mountain Societies, Graduate School of Development

Reports to: Dean, Graduate School of Development

department: Higher School of Development (GSD)

Duty station: Khorog, Tajikistan

Deadline: Open until full

The Research Institute of Mountain Societies is recruiting a director to lead this ambitious unit at the University of Central Asia’s Graduate School of Development.

The Institute for Research on Mountain Societies
Established in 2011, the Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) is a research institution dedicated to addressing challenges and opportunities within Central Asian mountain communities and environments. In line with the University’s mission, all of MSRI’s research and outreach activities are aimed at improving the quality of life for people in the mountainous regions of Central Asia and beyond. Specifically, MSRI’s goal is to support and enhance the resilience and prosperity of mountain societies and their environments through the generation and application of sound scientific research. The MSRI has particular strengths in five overlapping thematic areas that contribute to the GSD priorities of climate change, resilience and sustainable development:

  1. Sustainable management of natural resources, including food security;
  2. Trajectories of land degradation and recovery;
  3. Natural hazards (e.g. landslides, debris flows, snow avalanches, droughts, glacial hazards), disaster mitigation and related humanitarian assistance
  4. Water-related issues with a focus on cryosphere processes.
  5. Social dynamics, including migration and cross-border issues.

The MSRI aims to be recognized as the leading mountain research institute in the region and works closely with faculty from the Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) program in the School of Arts and Sciences of UCA. MSRI leadership may take the form of a cross-appointment with EES.

The position
The MSRI Director will build on and complement UCA’s current vision and research engagements in Central Asia, lead the research program by strategically guiding and supporting the research team, and strengthening and developing new research consistent with the vision of MSRI and the University. In addition to directing grant writing and project implementation, the Director will provide leadership and mentorship to the approximately 15 permanent members of the MSRI team and help develop graduate programs in GSD, in close collaboration with the Dean of the GSD. MSRI primarily conducts applied science research and works closely with its development counterparts to implement those findings. MSRI also distributes knowledge through executive education programs, short courses, and training sessions for practitioners and professionals, and contributes to the development of sustainable policies and practices in the region. Research and outreach activities are supported by a variety of donors and partnerships with multiple institutions.

MSRI’s headquarters are based at the UCA Khorog campus in Tajikistan, with a large research team presence in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Director will be primarily based in Khorog with travel to the Bishkek office and elsewhere as required.


  • PhD in earth and environmental sciences, natural resource management, physical geography or related field
  • Demonstrable interest in research related to mountain societies and MSRI priorities;
  • A clear track record of excellent scholarly publications;
  • Management and leadership experience in a higher education or related institution;
  • Successful experience in raising external funds;
  • A strong network between academic, development and donor organizations;
  • Experience in networking and knowledge dissemination;
  • Flexibility and ability to work and manage in a remote location and challenging environment.
  • Fluency in English (a working knowledge of Russian and/or a Central Asian language is an asset but not essential).

Candidates from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are encouraged to apply.

How to register
Please send a cover letter, CV and contact details of three references to [email protected] Please write “MSRI Director” in the subject line when sending your application by e-mail.

To discuss the position informally, please contact the Dean of the Graduate School of Development, Professor Christopher J Gerry ([email protected]).

Only selected candidates will be contacted.


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