Sida Delegation visits AUA
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AUA Discusses Areas of Collaboration with the Swedish Development Agency

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YEREVAN, Armenia ‒ On September 25, 2019, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted a delegation from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) comprising Maria Bister, coordinator of the new bilateral cooperation with Armenia, Sofie Westerberg, responsible for human rights and democracy, and Jan Johansson, senior program manager. They were accompanied by Ylva Hammarsten from the Department of Eastern Europe and Central Europe of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of the Embassy of Sweden in Yerevan: Minister-Counsellor, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Birger Karlsson and Coordinator of Programs Razmik Sargsyan.

The delegation was greeted by the AUA leadership, briefly toured the campus and were acquainted with the University’s history, academic programs, and research centers. Afterwards, at a round-table discussion AUA Provost Dr. Randall Rhodes, Vice President of Operations Ashot Ghazaryan, Vice President of Finance Gevorg Goyunyan, Dean of the Akian College of Science & Engineering (CSE) Dr. Aram Hajian, and Director of AUA Acopian Center for the Environment Alen Amirkhanian conversed with Sida representatives about areas of mutual interest.  

“We are in Armenia to have strategic discussions, to meet other donors and important stakeholders in the country, to see what role Sida could have compared to other donors and international agencies that are working in various spheres. We are also interested to find out what comparative advantage we have that is missing in the country that we could complement,” noted Bister. She highlighted the three thematic areas of the Swedish Government’s support strategy for Eastern Partnership countries and Western Balkans: democracy and human rights, environmental and climate issues, as well as economic integration and development of market economy.

Focusing on the environmental issues, Amirkhanian and Harutyun Alpetyan, circular economy expert at the AUA Acopian Center, presented the initiatives and projects currently carried out in collaboration with Swedish partners: Waste Governance in Armenia and the Waste Quantity and Composition Study (WQCS). The former is executed within the Swedish-Armenian SDG Expert Exchange Programme funded by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter engages an international waste-management consultant, LL Bolagen of Sweden, and is funded by the AUA Manoogian Simone Research Fund (MSRF).

Amirkhanian also presented two past initiatives that were carried out with Swedish partners. The Legal and Political Preconditions of Mining: Learning from the Swedish Experience was a three-day seminar led by professors and researchers from Sweden’s Luleå University of Technology. Another cooperative initiative with the Embassy of Sweden in Yerevan was Nordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities, a workshop and a month-long exhibition on urban sustainability solutions from Nordic Countries.

VP Ghazaryan took the opportunity to present other projects and activities at AUA. In addition to the Acopian Center for the Environment, he mentioned the Turpanjian School of Public Health (SPH) and AUA Extension. 

“The AUA Acopian Center is a center of excellence at the university. We also have SPH that does outstanding research in public health; the AUA Extension provides preparatory courses and continuing education opportunities both in Yerevan and the regions. Together with AUA President Dr. Karin Markides, we have been touring the regions to identify their specific needs and priorities. Current Extension courses in project management, leadership, hospitality, and tourism support the sustainable development of the regions but we have ambitions to explore other areas and to do more. We want to establish reality labs so that our students and faculty can go to the regions, implement their knowledge and skills and have a greater impact on society. Adding to our centers in Gyumri, Dilijan, Yeghegnadzor, Vanadzor, and Artsakh, we are going to open a new center in Goris and we are looking for partners in this venture.”

Bister expressed interest in this topic and agreed to discuss it further during the next meeting. The parties agreed to draw up a map of areas where Sida and AUA could potentially cooperate.  

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.