Central Asia-Azerbaijan Fellowship Program

The Central Asia-Azerbaijan Fellowship Program (CAAFP) is intended for young professionals – scholars, government officials, policy experts, human rights and activists – who want to enhance their research and analytical skills and seek to become public policy leaders in their respective countries. More generally, the fellowship program seeks to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and to build lasting intellectual networks among the Central Asian, Azerbaijani, and U.S. scholarly and policy communities.

CAAFP fellows will spend five months in residence at GW, where they will participate in tailor-made programs and be introduced to U.S. policy and expert communities in both Washington, DC and New York. Fellows are required to attend seminars, workshops and training sessions, to write one policy brief on a predetermined theme, and to present their research at two public seminars. Throughout their fellowship, fellows will be mentored by program faculty affiliates.

Applications are now closed

The next call for applications will open in February 2020 for the Fall 2020 Fellowship Program.

Fall 2019 CAAFP Fellows

Ilhom Aliyev’s research at GWU focuses on Tajikistan’s digital young generation, and how their contributions to start-ups and entrepreneurship lead to empowerment, economic development, and social change. Ilhom is the Co-Director of Global Entrepreneurship Week Tajikistan, and is heavily engaged with Techstars startup development programs in Tajikistan.  He served as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Tajikistan (AmCham Tajikistan) from 2015 to 2019, and has significantly contributed to US-Tajikistan business relations through the attraction of foreign investment and development of entrepreneurship. He previously held positions in the private sector and in non-governmental organizations.  In 2018 Ilhom received a John Smith Fellowship Award for emerging leaders who promote good governance, social justice and rule of law. He was awarded a Rumsfeld Fellowship in 2017, spending six weeks at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington DC. Ilhom holds an MA in Political Economy from the University of Manchester, UK and a BA in International Relations from the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University, Tajikistan. He also attended leadership programs of Georgetown University and Lehigh University.

Nafissa Insebayeva’s research at GWU explores the language divides and barriers between Kazakh and Russian speaking youth activists and political participation. She is PhD Candidate at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, where she specializes in Kazakhstan’s domestic politics, development cooperation and international development strategies. She previously took part in development-related conferences, workshops and trainings at the University of Oxford, Harvard University, Columbia University and National University of Singapore. She is a recipient of the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship, and holds a BA in Economics from Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan), and an MA in International Area Studies from the University of Tsukuba.

Aichurek Kurmanbekova. As a visiting fellow at the GWU, Aichurek explores girls’ education in madrasahs in Kyrgyzstan. Her research interests include human rights, education, gender equality, elections, and religious extremism and terrorism in Central Asia. She previously worked for the local human rights group, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, as an election observation coordinator, and was a national UNV at the UNDP/UN Peacebuilding Fund, where she served as a specialist on gender-responsive civil society and community engagement in peacebuilding. In addition, Aichurek did a consultancy for UNDP elections and e-governance projects and worked for the Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Turkmenistan. She is a graduate of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University with a BA in Political Science (2008); and Bishkek’s OSCE Academy with an MA in Politics and Security (2014).

Lola Ulugova (Lolisanam) researches the intersection between cultural arts and youth activism in Tajikistan while at GWU. Lolisanam has been an activist in Tajikistan since 2000. Her last working assignment as an Arts and Social Activism Program Coordinator at Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation (OSIAF) in Tajikistan, 2014-2019, was a recognition of her skills and passion towards development of Tajik youth, arts and activism at a professional level. She was the founding director of Tajik Bio-Cultural Initiatives, a non-governmental organization dedicated to Tajik arts and environmental issues. In 2013, she wrote and produced the nation’s first 3-D animation film, a short designed to promote awareness of environmental issues among children. She previously produced several cultural DVDs archiving Tajik dance and biocultural diversity and was a Field Production Manager on the documentary Buzkashi! by Najeeb Mirza (Canada), and co-produced After the Curtain along with Emelie Mahdavian (USA). From 1999-2005  she was the manager of the Gurminj Museum musical instrument museum in Dushanbe; has been involved in the administration of multiple government and NGO research projects and publications in Tajikistan; and was the organizer of several art exhibitions. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Turin, Italy; and an undergraduate degree in Russian Language and Literature.

Previous CAAFP Fellows and Their Publications

Spring 2019

Nazimaxon Davletova

Final paper (PDF): Women of Uzbekistan: Empowered on Paper, Inferior on the Ground



Fall 2018