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Visiting Kazakhstan Scholars Expand Maxwell Ties with Central Asia

May 19, 2023

When Aibek Kabyldin of Kazakhstan decided to expand his study of anti-corruption practices and deterrences to a global scale, he says he looked for a school with three qualities: a reputation for excellence and expertise in public policy research and teaching; deep scholarly resources; and a location in the U.S., an international hub for anti-corruption focused organizations and events.

Aibek Kabyldin, Dan Nelson, Aigul Sadvokassova
From left to right: Aibek Kabyldin, Dan Nelson and Aigul Sadvokassova

Kabyldin found all that at the Maxwell School, and next month, he will be among the latest midcareer professionals from Kazakhstan to finish a one-year research and academic program through the school’s Visiting Executive Scholar (VES) partnership with that country. The program, which debuted about a year ago, links the Maxwell School with employees of the Academy of Public Administration (APA), under the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is the latest in a series of joint ventures that Maxwell has pursued with APA since 2017 to further expand its presence in Central Asia.

“In the past we had people from Kazakhstan come to Maxwell for focused executive training programs that lasted two or three weeks,” said Dan Nelson, director of accelerated learning and global engagement at the Maxwell School. “They also would come for the dual-degree master’s program. But this Visiting Executive Scholar program pulls in people who work as teachers in a civil service capacity in the Kazakhstan government. It’s professionalizing public service and helping to expand the depth and breadth of their chosen research.”

The program, administered by Maxwell’s Executive Education department, is open to APA faculty—all of whom hold civil servant status within the government—who want to bring a global perspective to their area of research as well as hone their public administration skills. They also strengthen their English communication skills in ways that both benefit their teaching and enhance their chances of publishing their research in English-language journals.

The VES program runs on a rolling basis, and Kabyldin, along with Aigul Sadvokassova, completed their year of study this May. A third participant will complete the program later this summer, and Nelson said some new scholars are expected to arrive this summer as well.

Kabyldin most recently served as an anti-corruption compliance officer at APA, where he teaches advanced training classes and lectures on anti-corruption policy. He came to Maxwell, he said, “because I wanted to study the best international experiences of anti-corruption standards and effective tools and preventive mechanisms, and the development of anti-corruption culture in general.” He recently shared his experience and expertise in anti-corruption policy and progress with fellow Maxwell students and faculty as part of Executive Education’s “Peer to Peer” forum series.

Kabyldin said he especially appreciated the fact that courses and workshops during his year of study were heavily practice-oriented. He also valued the opportunity to attend “the largest international conference dedicated to World Anti-Corruption Day, which was organized by Transparency International in Washington, D.C.”

Previous VES program participants have credited their Maxwell experience with enhancing both their research and teaching skills and output; improving their English communication skills; and providing valuable networking opportunities with other international midcareer professionals.

For the Maxwell School, the program is one more way to tap into, and learn from, a range of diverse perspectives and ideas rooted in the international scholars’ unique cultural norms. The fact that these visiting Kazakhstan professionals will take what they’ve learned and apply it to their teaching at the APA also furthers a more fundamental Maxwell objective, Nelson says, “which is to enhance and improve good governance, regardless of what country it’s in.”

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