Silk Roads Youth Research Grant

©Mahmoud A. Elraziek Ghoniem / UNESCO Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads


The results of the 2021 UNESCO Silk Roads Youth Research Grant have been announced here.


The call for proposals for the Silk Roads Youth Research Grant has now closed.
No further applications will be considered.

We encourage you to regularly check this page for updates concerning future award cycles of the grant.


Reinforcing the Capacity and Contribution of Young Researchers to the Silk Roads “Silk Roads Youth Research Grant”

As part of the Silk Roads and MOST Programmes ongoing work to better understand the rich history and shared legacy and spirit of the Silk Roads, UNESCO, with the support of the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO, has launched the ‘Silk Roads Youth Research Grant’ within the framework of the Social and Human Sciences Sector. This new initiative, which aims to mobilize young researchers for further study of the Silk Roads shared heritage, will award 12 research grants to young women and men under 35 years of age.

Grant applicants are invited to address areas of academic study which relate to the shared heritage and plural identities of the Silk Roads, as well as its internal diversity, and potential in contemporary societies for creativity, intercultural dialogue, social cohesion, regional and international cooperation, and ultimately sustainable peace and development.

Call for Proposals

The call for proposals of the Silk Roads Youth Research Grant has now closed, we invite you to read the sections below for more detailed information.

What fields of Silk Roads Research are eligible?

A broad array of research fields, including multidisciplinary and multidimensional proposals not limited to one specific region or chronology, are eligible. Proposed research may cover any of a number of themes associated with the Silk Roads shared heritage including, but not limited to:

  • Science and Technology
  • Traditional Knowhow and Craftsmanship
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Language and Literature
  • Arts and Music
  • Traditional Sports and Games

However, proposed research must focus on the results of cultural interactions and exchanges, and within a given field must showcase the concrete resulting elements, be they tangible or intangible, as identifiable in two or more cultures along the Silk Roads and beyond. Research may be interdisciplinary in approach, and where possible, provide dynamic and novel ideas on the processes of exchange and transformation along the Silk Roads and its meaning and value in contemporary societies.

Read the full Applicant Guidelines here

Key questions

The vast trade networks of the Silk Roads carried more than just merchandise and precious commodities. In fact, the constant movement and mixing of populations brought about the widespread transmission of knowledge, ideas, cultures and beliefs, which had a profound impact on the history and civilizations of the Eurasian peoples. Travellers along the Silk Roads were attracted not only by trade but also by the intellectual and cultural exchange taking place in cities along the Silk Roads, many of which developed into hubs of culture and learningSciencearts and literature, as well as crafts and technologies were thus shared and disseminated into societies along the lengths of these routes, and in this way, languagesreligions, and cultures developed and influenced one another.

Read more here


The Silk Roads are an expansive region composed of a network of maritime and land routes. Originating in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia the Silk Roads cross the Central Asian sub-continent, the Russian steppe, the Iranian and Anatolian plateaus, and the Arabian Peninsula. They also stretch through North Africa and Northeast Africa, from Tanzania to Morocco. Additionally, they pass through Eastern and Southern Europe, before reaching France and Spain. 

Please see map here

Postgraduate researchers aged 35 and younger at the time of application are eligible to apply for the grant. The proposed research may be carried out by an individual researcher or may be part of a group or collaborative project. 

The deadline for proposals is 3 May 2021, after which the grant awardees will be announced at the end of June 2021 following the evaluation process by the scientific panel composed of renowned international academics.

Proposals will be evaluated, and grants awarded, based on the assessment of a scientific panel comprised of a group of 9 renowned international experts and academics from around the world, working in various fields relating to the study of the Silk Roads

The panel will award the 12 grants valued at 10,000 USD based on the strengths of the proposed research and its potential contribution to furthering understanding of the interactions and exchanges taking place across the Silk Roads and the concrete elements resulting from them.

Submit your Research Proposal

Please ensure you have read the Applicant Guidelines carefully before downloading and completing the Submission Template detailing your research, its methods, expected outcomes and contribution to existing scholarship. Applicants will receive an email confirmation of their proposal submission.

Proposals should be submitted in English and sent by e-mail to:

Layers of colorful traditional Samarkand paper © Noyan Yalcin/




Members of the Scientific Panel

Ms Xia Chen

Professor, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – China
Chair of the Silk Roads Youth Research Grant

Xia Chen is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy and Director of the Editorial Department for the Journal of Philosophical Trends and Chinese Philosophical Almanac at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing. Specializing in Chinese Philosophy and Religions, particularly Daoism, she has been a visiting scholar at Harvard, SOAS, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Science Po Bordeaux, and a Fulbright Scholar at Brown University. She taught the Chinese Philosophy course at the Council on International Educational Exchange for several years and served as the chairperson for the section of Daoist philosophy at the 24th WCP in Beijing. She is a Member of the Executive Committee of the International Council of Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) and is the author of many works having contributed hundreds of articles to a number of journals both in Chinese and English.

Mr Peter Frankopan

Professor of Global History, Oxford University – United Kingdom
Vice-Chair of the Silk Roads Youth Research Grant

Professor Peter Frankopan is a historian, writer, and Professor of Global History at Oxford University, UK. He specialises in the history of the Byzantine Empire, the Mediterranean, Russia, the Middle East, Persia/Iran, Central and South Asia, and China and has authored numerous books, including "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World" (2015).

Ms Meenakshi Bharat

Associate Professor, University of Delhi – India

Professor Meenakshi Bharat is an Associate Professor at the University of Delhi, India where she teaches the New Literatures in English Course to M.A. students. She has held a number of positions within international organizations, including President of the International Federation of Modern Languages and Literatures (FILLM, UNESCO), and Bureau Member of the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences, (CIPSH, UNESCO) 2014-2017.

Mr Badarch Dendev

Governing Board, Mongolian University of Science and Technology Adviser, National Institute of Education – Mongolia

Professor Badarch Dendev is the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology and former UNESCO Representative to Uzbekistan. Between 2014 and 2017 he served as the Director of the Division of Social Transformation and Intercultural Dialogue, at UNESCO and was the acting Director of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, in Moscow from 2008-2014.

Ms Aijarkyn Kojobekova

UN Women – Kyrgyzstan
Focal Point of Kyrgyzstan for the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme

PhD, Associate Professor in Philosophy, Kyrgyzstan National expert of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), and Focal Point of Kyrgyzstan for the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme. Dr Aijarkyn Kojobekova's research interests include Central Asian social and political culture, memory studies, nation building process, as well as the political implications of religion and the sacred, and these are reflected in her numerous publications.

Mr Jacques Legrand

Linguist and Anthropologist, Former Director of INALCO – France

Professor Jacques Legrand is a French linguist and anthropologist, specialising in Mongolian literature, history, and language. He was the President of INALCO (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations) from 2005 to 2013 and has published numerous publications under the auspices of UNESCO, and the Institute of International Studies and Nomadic Civilizations in Ulaanbaatar, which he chairs.

Mr Shahin Mustafayev

Deputy Director, Institute of Oriental Studies, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences – Azerbaijan
Focal Point of Azerbaijan for the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme

Dr Shahin Mustafayev is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, at the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences in Baku. He is the author of four books and dozens of articles on the Silk Roads and the medieval history of Azerbaijan, Anatolia, and Central Asia.

Ms Darina Saliba Abi-Chedid

Director, International Center for Human Sciences (CISH–UNESCO) – Lebanon

Dr Darina Saliba Abi Chedid is the Director of the International Center for Human Sciences (CISH–UNESCO) in Byblos, Lebanon. She is a former professor of Political Science and International Law, and a consultant in Human Rights and Arbitration at Cairo Regional Center for training and arbitration.

Ms Hania Sholkamy

Associate Research Professor, The American University in Cairo – Egypt

Professor Hania Sholkamy is an Associate Research Professor in Applied Social Research and member of the teaching Faculty of the Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Her research areas include social protection, ethnographic research, reproductive health, women’s work and economic empowerment, and gender.

*All queries must be directed to
Any attempts to contact members of the panel regarding the application process are forbidden and may result in disqualification from the grant.

The Silk Roads Youth Research Grant has been implemented with the support of:


The National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO

This platform has been developed and maintained with the support of:


UNESCO Headquarters

7 Place de Fontenoy

75007 Paris, France

Social and Human Sciences Sector

Research, Policy and Foresight Section

Silk Roads Programme

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