Penn GSE in Kazakhstan

As a part of the University of Pennsylvania's global engagement, the Graduate School of Education has partnered with officials in Kazakhstan to establish Nazarbayev University, a preeminent Kazakhstani-run research university allowing academic freedom and self-governance. Nazarbayev University is meant to serve as a model for reform that can be duplicated by other universities across Kazakhstan.

Penn GSE helped to develop the university's structure, governance and policies, and as a result of GSE's involvement with Nazarbayev the Kazakhs recently passed legislation requring all colleges and universities in the nation have boards of trustees by 2020.

While the project began with a focus on Nazarbayev University, it has since been expanded to also evaluate middle and high school governance. Until now, schools in Kazakhstan have been highly centralized, but educational leaders want to learn how to operate locally controlled schools.

Officials from Kazakhstan are visiting Penn this week to meet with a team of Penn GSE faculty members, including Blake Naughton, Matt Hartley, Alan Ruby, James "Torch" Lytle, Earl Ball, Sharon Ravitch and Priscilla Dawson, to discuss academic governance, accountability and culturally relevant issues. During their two-week visit to Philadelphia, they will visit schools around the region. This summer, nearly 30 faculty and doctoral students will travel to Kazakhstan for a research-intensive project, consulting on key issues that Nazarbayev University is facing.

Text and video by Jill Disanto-Haines