The Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) was founded in 2007 with a mandate to develop an effective, sustainable network of universities in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) for collaboration with academic, research, and knowledge generating and exchange institutions both within and outside the region. Since 2014, when HUC became an emerging regional programme of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Consortium has expanded its network to 60 full members in eight HKH countries and 17 associate members in other Asian countries, including members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Initial activities such as small/seed grants, exchange/mobility grants, and PhD/doctoral fellowship programmes have increased ownership and commitment among HUC members. A number of common interest clusters and thematic partnerships have also been formed.
The HUC Steering Group recognizes that there is a need to promote scholarly leadership among senior researchers and professors of the Consortium’s members who serve as catalysts to foster inter-university research and training collaboration for sustainable mountain development (SMD) in the HKH. Drawing on existing good practices such as the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development (University of the Highlands and Islands, United Kingdom and University of Bern, Switzerland), the Iqbal Professorial Fellowship (University of Heidelberg, Germany), and the intensive mentorship offered by world-renowned scholars to regional researchers within the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE), the HUC Steering Group developed a Concept Note for the ICIMOD Mountain Chair and secured a strong endorsement for it at the HUC Annual General Assembly Meeting in New Delhi, India in October 2016. With generous initial support from the ICIMOD Foundation, the first implementation period runs from 2017 to 2022.
The ICIMOD Mountain Chair is an honorary title given by the Selection Panel led by the HUC Steering Group to persons who currently hold a full-time teaching and/or research position in an HUC full member institution. The term of the ICIMOD Mountain Chair is for two years. The goal is to promote inter-university cooperation and enhance institutional capacities through knowledge-sharing and collaborative research and training for sustainable mountain development (SMD) in the HKH region. The ICIMOD Mountain Chair title enables the incumbent to conduct or finalize a study on SMD issues from transboundary or comparative perspectives in her/his home university and with other HUC members. This allows the Chair to take the lead in bringing a mountain focus to curriculum development and promoting regional collaboration through scholarly exchange activities such as lecture tours and conferences within and beyond the region.
III. EXPECTED OUTCOMES
The ICIMOD Mountain Chair title is expected to create a stream of senior scholars who serve as catalysts for regional collaboration in research and training on mountain-specific issues in the HKH. Exchange of knowledge, enhanced collaborative research capacity, and high quality scholarly publications or other forms of knowledge production are expected end results.
IV. REQUIREMENTS AND BENEFITS
Candidates for the ICIMOD Mountain Chair title must have an excellent track record and substantial experience in HKH mountain issues. They must currently hold a full-time teaching and/or research position preferably at an HUC full member institution (Annex I). The Chair may spend a large portion of her/his time at a home institution but must be willing to spend three to six months engaging in scholarly exchange at ICIMOD and in at least one other HUC member institution outside their country. The Chair is strongly encouraged to present her/his research at international conferences during their term and attend the HUC Bi-annual Meeting in conjunction with international conferences.
The ICIMOD Mountain Chair title is awarded for 24 months, starting at the beginning of the academic year in the country of the honoured. A budget of USD 10,000 is allocated for the term in order to provide the incumbent with the finances needed to carry out the proposed activities. Expenses for regional and international travel undertaken as Chair will be covered additionally but should not exceed USD 3,000 per year without roll-over.
V. APPLICATION, SELECTION, AND ADMINISTRATION
Applications for the ICIMOD Mountain Chair position will be invited once every two years through open competition. Applications from among HUC full member institutions (Annex I) is preferred but not mandatory. The five-member Selection Panel will consist of representatives from the HUC Steering Group, the ICIMOD/ICIMOD Foundation Board, and independent subject specialists. A rigorous selection process will review each candidate’s track record, publications, and achievements.
Women and candidates from less-represented ICIMOD Regional Member Countries are strongly encouraged to apply.
Interested candidates who meet the criteria outlined above are expected to write to the HUC Secretariat requesting an application package. They are expected to then fill up the application and submit a proposal specifying research, publication, training, and/or scholarly exchange activities, and a list of higher education institutions in the HKH that they plan to visit during their term as Chair, if honoured with the title. Candidates who do not make it are encouraged to try again the following year for a maximum of two consecutive years.
The ICIMOD Mountain Chair is administered by HUC-ICIMOD. The HUC Secretariat is responsible for annual reporting.