Presentation about UNSP



Wiki-based social networks - Introducing the UN Studies Portal

by Henrike Paepcke

Vienna Colloquium on Innovative Techniques
for Teaching the United Nations

Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, Austria

November 22, 2008

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Wiki-based social networks – Introducing the UN Studies Portal




UN Studies Association - who are we?

The UN Studies Working Group is an emerging international community of academics and practitioners dedicated to actively create and contribute to "the next generation of UN Studies".

Founded at the 2007 ACUNS Annual Meeting in New York City and operating in close cooperation with ACUNS, we aim to foster collaboration and raise awareness about this interdisciplinary field of study.

The group’s vision is to promote the formation of an interdisciplinary, UN-focused field of studies, and to build a strong UN Studies community that takes UN research and teaching to the next level.

>> our mission statement - work in progress.


The UN Studies Portal at a glance

The UN Studies Portal is our main, informal working platform to network, to develop and exchange new ideas, as well as to build and share knowledge.

our homepage:

sample pages:

Look and feel, features are all pretty basic. We are planning on carefully adding more features to enhance our communication and collaboration.


The philosophy behind wikis - why do we wiki?

The almost infinite range of features that facilitate social networking, interaction and collaboration is one of the main reasons for our decision to use a wiki. The philosophy behind wikis is another compelling motive: Among the various web 2.0 tools (such as blogs, forums) wikis offer the most interactive, participatory solution to tackle increasingly complex problems and the resulting overflow of information.

The four wiki principles:

  • "peering" (horizontal organization)
  • sharing (contributing to the commons)
  • openness / transparency
  • acting globally (“people and intellectual assets will need to be managed across cultures, disciplines, and organizational boundaries")

-- Tapscott / Williams: Wikinomics (2006)

Main advantage: Every user can write and edit pages.


wikis, social networks and education

sample list of educational wikis:


Opportunities for teaching the UN

  • How do wiki-related problems or phenomenons such as the 90-10 participation rule (90% "lurk", 10% contribute) affect teaching?
  • How can we better integrate informal techniques such as wikis into more formal teaching settings?
  • How can we stimulate interaction, open discussions, unstructured knowledge exchange?
  • How can we grade wiki contributions?
  • How can we better engage the ne(x)t generation?


Outlook on UNSA informal meeting on Sunday, November 2008, at the Juridicum

Joint Discussion.

  • What defines UN Studies, and why do we need such a field of studies?
  • How to expand UN Studies-related activities (regionally, topically)?
  • How can we best incorporate the outcome of the Regional Colloquium on Teaching the UN?
  • How can we better raise awareness and work more closely with ACUNS and other partners?

Background: Existing UN-related studies such as “Global Governance” or “International Relations” study programs reveal critical shortcomings – first and foremost, they lack a systematic focus on the diverse dimensions and unique role of the UN in global affairs.

Ongoing discussion:

  • UNSADialogues - regular (monthly) online meetings to discuss a common concept of UN studies, innovative research and successful teaching tools.
  • DiscussionPapers - series of papers to introduce new ideas and thoughts that will help us explore new directions in UN research and teaching and develop a common concept of UN Studies.

Conclusion: Call for action

Our wiki-based portal is not only a test how far we can take the wiki philosophy and principles in real life, it is also key in our effort to reach out to the next generation.

Join us in our wiki learning experiment.

We look forward to hearing your comments and ideas.

Please contact the UN Studies Association at:

You are welcome to visit and contribute to our portal: