What is an Open Center of Excellence?

An Open Center of Excellence (OCE) is framed around a broad and transformative area of interest that is expected to change over time and driven by solutions that cannot be identified by one discipline alone.

The objective is to solve complex challenges by attracting forefront knowledge and competence from different backgrounds to focus on common problems within the open thematic area. These challenges are defined by society, as well as the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The outcome is expected to provide integration and transformation to find sustainable solutions that are directly relevant for government, industry, universities, and/or civic society. 

Key ingredients in this are trust, reliance, and mutual understanding between the collaborators.


The collaborators comprise multinational and small companies, national and international academic institutions, relevant foundations, and the civic and public sector in Armenia.

The university is the perfect venue for OCEs because universities are connected to the global knowledge front; are nonpartisan; have access to young people; foster all areas of knowledge with high trust in society; and incentivize faculty and students the freedom to experiment and develop important soft skills. In this environment, exploration is fostered, and integration of mindsets is facilitated to yield transformative and disruptive change. Universities can engage in long-term projects, transform people’s mindsets, focus on developmental leadership, and change people’s behaviors and the trajectory of history.

This transdisciplinary approach has the aim to facilitate AUA’s vision of transformative impact enabling local communities in Armenia to prosper. Prosperity is not just economical; it’s also sustainable production, transportation, export, agriculture, energy, culture, public policy, etc. The complex challenges we aim to address cannot rely only on one field of knowledge. We need to intersect disciplines to address today’s pressing challenges.


By connecting education, research, and outreach within the Open Centers of Excellence, the resultant academic strength will incite strategic collaborators to be engaged. At AUA, we define the meeting places as “Reality Labs”, where students and scholars meet and intersect within the profiled clusters of public-private partnerships in the provinces.

AUA has decided to work with six Open Centers of Excellence. Three OCEs focus on the three strong knowledge areas of AUA, while the other three concentrate on providing transformative skills. The OCEs conduct added value and collaboration for projects introduced by scholars having their base in the Colleges. The Open Center Chairs comprise a network of academic support and activities, with access to tools, visibility, and project management provided by the Global Local Office, Open Education, Communication, Development, and the Alumni organization. The featured Open Centers of Excellence are:

As strategic units within AUA, the OCEs are continuously developed in a yearly strategic process, starting with a bottom-up mapping of perspectives and priorities in education, research, and outreach, guided by yearly thematic objectives, and measured by Key Performance Indicators. In addition to this strategic mapping, the OCEs are governed by a dual process comprising a principal investigator (PI)-controlled project level of content and development, and a Chair-conducted OCE level of collaborative support functions.