The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program constitute a joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center. The Center is independent and privately funded, and has offices in Washington, D.C., and Stockholm, Sweden. The Center is affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, and with the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy. It is the first Center of its kind in both Europe and North America, and is firmly established as a leading focus of research and policy worldwide, serving a large and diverse community of analysts, scholars, policy-watchers, business leaders, journalists, and students.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program were designed, in 1996 and 2002 respectively, to respond to the increasing need for information, research and analysis on these regions with the identical ambition: to help bring these regions out of the shadows of the American and European consciousness to which fate had consigned them. By encouraging Americans and Europeans to enter into an active and multi-faceted engagement with the region, and by promoting serious and well-informed policies towards it, the founders hoped the new institutes could help a neglected world area to reclaim its legitimate and appropriate place in the world order. Realizing the complementary and identical aims of providing rigorous, applied and policy-relevant research on this region, as well as the added value of further structured cooperation in research, teaching, and publications, CACI and SRSP resolved in 2005 to institutionalize their existing cooperation and to formally merge into a joint Research and Policy Center.
The joint Center strives to promote study and policy-related work on the region through five main channels: Impartial research; publications and dissemination; forums and conferences; teaching; and acting as a "switchboard" for knowledge and information.
The joint Center fosters both fundamental and applied research in a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, ranging from short research projects involving a sole researcher to larger, multi-year endeavors involving numerous researchers. This research is undertaken mainly at the Center's two offices, but often involves sponsoring research in the field. The Center also often receives visiting scholars. In fields formerly dominated by males, women have been prominent among scholars at the Center.
Publications and Dissemination
A main task of the joint Center is the publication and dissemination of its research to a large and varied audience consisting of both policymakers, academics, and the educated public. The Center aspires to fulfill this task through publishing research findings in a wide variety of outlets; through issuing a series of publications on the issues under its mandate; and through frequent interviews and lectures given by the Center's staff at to various media outlets and institutions around the world. The Center publishes the following publications:
- A book series in cooperation with M.E. Sharpe Publishers.
- The Silk Road Papers, the Center's Occasional Papers series ranging from 50 to 150 pages in length, are published electronically and in print, and are freely available online.
- The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, a globally leading periodical for analysis and information on the region, freely accessible online. Established in 1999 and edited by Svante E. Cornell, the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst has established itself among the world's most authoritative sources of analysis and information on the region.
- The Fact Sheets, Eurasian Narcotics, are based on an extensive database and provide insights on the drug problem in each regional country in an accessible manner.
- News Digests. The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst includes a News Digest, while the Center also provides a weekly news digest on the narcotics and security situation in Eurasia.
Forums and Conferences
The Center organizes two periodic forums in their respective locations as well as occasional joint conferences. In Washington, the W.P. Carey Forum has developed into the country's premier locus for rigorous discussion of issues pertaining to Central Asia and the Caucasus. In Stockholm, the Silk Road Forum fosters discussions on the region in a similar manner. These forums have several aims:
- To keep the region in the attention of the western foreign policy makers;
- To make available the fruits of the most authoritative research on the region;
- To bring attention to questions that are important but neglected in the public debate;
- To give important officials in the region an opportunity to present their views to a wider audience than might otherwise be available to them.
While devoted mainly to research and policy issues, the joint Center regularly offers undergraduate and graduate courses on the region as well as supervision of master's and doctoral theses.
A Switchboard of Knowledge and Information
The Center serves the most promising scholars and analysts working on Central Asia and the Caucasus. Such men and women are extremely decentralized. The best younger researchers in the U.S. and Europe frequently teach at universities and colleges that are distant from the traditional academic centers of international studies. Numerous centers for serious study exist throughout Central Asia and the Caucasus, among them being the Institutes of Strategic Studies that exist in every capital, and with which the Center maintains regular ties. The joint Center has become an unofficial embassy for Central Asia and Caucasus Studies in Washington and a kind of "intellectual switchboard" for such studies globally. The Washington office welcomes hundreds of visitors each year, including individuals, groups, and official delegations, while the Stockholm office, building on a long and leading tradition of studies of Central Eurasia in Europe, serves the same function.
The Center's Officers
The Joint Center's Chairman is Dr. S. Frederick Starr. A Distinguished Fellow at AFPC, Starr co-founded the Kennan Institute, served for 11 years as President of Oberlin College, and served in the early 2000s as pro-tem Rector of the University of Central Asia. He is a leading specialist on the society and politics of Central Asia including Afghanistan, as well as Russian politics and foreign policy, U.S. policy in Eurasia, and the regional politics of oil. The Center's Research Director is Dr. Svante E. Cornell. A Senior Fellow for Eurasia at AFPC, Cornell is a specialist on security issues, regional security and state-building in the Caucasus, Turkey, and Central Asia. The Center's Program Director is Dr. Niklas L.P. Swanström. Swanström is a specialist on conflict management, security, and negotiation in Northeast and Central Asia.