Director, Mountain Societies Research Institute, Graduate School of Development

Reports to: Dean, Graduate School of Development
Department: Graduate School of Development (GSD)
Duty Station: Khorog, Tajikistan
Deadline: Open until filled

The Mountain Societies Research Institute is recruiting a Director to lead this ambitious unit of the Graduate School of Development, University of Central Asia.

The Mountain Societies Research Institute

Established in 2011 the Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) is a research institution dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities within Central Asian mountain communities and environments. In keeping with the mission of the University, all MSRI's research and outreach is aimed at improving the quality of life of the residents of mountainous areas in Central Asia and elsewhere. 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. MSRI has particular strengths in five overlapping thematic areas which contribute to the GSD priorities in Climate Change, Resilience and Sustainable Development:
  1. Sustainable natural resources management, including food security;
  2. Land degradation and recovery trajectories;
  3. Natural hazards (e.g., landslides, debris flows, snow avalanches, droughts, glacial hazards), associated disaster mitigation and humanitarian relief;
  4. Water issues with focus on cryosphere processes;
  5. Social dynamics, including migration and transboundary issues.

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) Programme of UCA's School of Arts and Sciences. The MSRI Directorship may take the form of a joint appointment with EES.

The Position

The MSRI Director will build on and complement UCA's current research vision and commitments in Central Asia, lead the research agenda by strategically guiding and supporting the research team, and strengthen and develop new research consistent with MSRI's and the University's vision. In addition to leading grant writing and project implementation, the Director will provide leadership and mentorship to the circa 15 permanent members of the MSRI team, and will help develop graduate programs in GSD, working closely with the GSD Dean. MSRI primarily conducts applied scientific research and works closely with development counterparts to implement these 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 head office is based on the UCA Khorog campus in Tajikistan, with a substantial research team presence in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Director will primarily be 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 a related field
  • Demonstrable interest in research related to mountain societies and the priorities of MSRI;
  • A clear track record of excellent scholarly publications;
  • Experience of management and leadership in a higher education or related setting;
  • Successful track record of raising external funding;
  • A strong network among academic, development, and donor organizations;
  • Experience in networking and knowledge dissemination;
  • Flexibility and ability to work and manage in a remote location and a challenging environment.
  • Fluency in English (working knowledge of Russian and/or a Central Asian language is beneficial but not essential).

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

How to Apply

Please send a cover letter, CV, and contact information for three references to by TBC. Please write "MSRI Director" as the subject when sending your application by email.

To discuss the position informally please contact the Dean of the Graduate School of Development, Professor Christopher J Gerry (

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded in 2000 as a private, not for profit, secular university through an International Treaty signed by the Presidents of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan; ratified by their respective parliaments, and registered with the United Nations. The Presidents are Patrons of the University and His Highness the Aga Khan is the Chancellor. UCA's mission is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain communities, by offering an internationally recognized standard of higher education, and enabling the peoples of the region to preserve their rich cultural heritage as assets for the future. UCA brings with it the broader commitment and partnership of the Aga Khan Development Network. For more information:

UCA consists of three schools including the Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Development (The Institute of Public Policy and Administration, the Mountain Societies Research Institute, the Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit, the Civil Societies Initiative, and the Aga Khan Humanities Project), the School of Professional and Continuing Education, and the Central Asian Faculty Development Programme. UCA's undergraduate programmes are located at its residential campuses in Khorog, Tajikistan, and Naryn, Kyrgyzstan. The Tekeli campus in Kazakhstan is in the planning stage.

posted: 02 November 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.