This is me, Emma Sabzalieva. Hello and welcome to my website!
I’m a Policy Analyst at the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education and a Research Associate at York University in Canada.
I have a PhD in Comparative & International Higher Education from the University of Toronto, Canada. In my work, I embrace research, teaching, and public and policy engagement. I explore the geopolitics of higher education and the effects of globalization on education policy. I have published widely.
Since 2011, I’ve been blogging about education, society and politics in Central Asia. This stems from working in Central Asia for an inspiring and groundbreaking education initiative in the early 2000s, plus subsequent freelance and voluntary work as well as a host of other ongoing connections and deep commitments to the region.
My blog has been named one of The Guardian’s “best social media accounts for academics” (2016) and my blog posts have attracted attention from a wider audience, including El País, Huffington Post and Yahoo Canada.
My PhD is about how and why change happens in higher education, with a focus on post-Soviet higher education systems. Part of my doctoral research was awarded the 2018 Excellent Paper Award for an Emerging Scholar by the Knowledge Politics and Policies Standing Group of the European Consortium of Political Researchers.
In 2020, I received a University of Toronto Student Leadership Award for my ‘passion, leadership and outstanding contributions to the community’.
I was the proud recipient of two prestigious scholarships for my PhD.
From 2017-20 I held a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. This Canadian government scholarship rewards academic excellence, research potential, and leadership. In the year I received my award, just 167 scholarships were offered nationwide, making the success rate less than 10%. I was the first recipient of the scholarship in my department since 2012.
In 2015-17, I held a Study Abroad Studentship, funded by the UK’s Leverhulme Trust. This transformational award enabled me to make the move from the UK to Canada and from higher education administration towards an academic career in research and teaching.
Alongside my PhD studies, I collaborated on research with the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at the University of Toronto, the Higher School of Economics (Russia)/University of Oxford, and the University of Central Asia.
In 2020, I received a Newer Researchers’ Prize from the Society for Research in Higher Education to undertake archival research on constructions of knowledge and merit in 20th century British higher education.
I have taught at the University of Toronto on courses in international development, international academic relations, and comparative educational theories and methods. I’m an experienced mentor and have a career long commitment to promoting women’s professional development.
I have consulted on education projects for the governments of Tajikistan (with the World Bank), Estonia and the UK, the University of Oxford, and the University of Central Asia and managed conferences and membership at the Central Eurasian Studies Society. I’m an elected Board Director of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education.
Prior to starting doctoral research, I enjoyed a progressively senior career working in higher education administration and management in Central Asia and the UK. I am co-author of Managing your career in higher education administration (2014), part of Palgrave Macmillan’s Universities into the 21st century series.
I have an undergraduate MA (Hons) in Russian Studies & History from the University of Edinburgh, UK; a Postgraduate Certificate in Conflict & Development from the Open University, UK; and an MBA in Higher Education Management from the Institute of Education, UK (now University College London).
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