UNSA Dialogue 12 - 2008

Date & dial-in information

Thursday, December 4, at 6pm Central European Time / noon Eastern Time.

The session will last for an hour.

To join the conference call, please dial +1-712-580-1800.

Long distance rates apply. For callers outside the U.S. and Canada, please try to use special dialing codes for cheaper access.




1. Report from Vienna.

Henrike will deliver a short report about the outcome of the Vienna colloquium - how does it relate to UN Studies?

  • We might want to discuss how to best integrate views from other regions.

2. Our future work approach and format: Dialogues, Discussion Forum, Meetings

Henrike will briefly introduce the three-track work approach that was discussed at the Vienna meeting on Sunday, Nov. 23.

  • How can we best transfer our meeting results into our conceptual work?
  • We might want to discuss possible topcis for our UNSA meeting at the ACUNS AM in Trinidad & Tobago.

3. Outlook on future activities.

  • Suggested wiki workshop in July.
  • Dates& topics of 2009 UNSA Dialogues.


Issues raised during the discussion:


  • we should pursue a more global approach.
  • Anthropological views of the UN are rare (however, they do exist; see for example book on cultural dimensions in peacekeeping)
  • -> the UN's culture needs to be further examined
  • ACUNS 2009 annual meeting in Trinidad and Tobage addresses key issue to integrate different cultures
  • Balkan views as presented in Vienna reveal particular historical-practical experience with history of reconstruction
  • we should let Balkans take their own initiative, however, foster them building bonds with our members and doing case studies / using (new) methodologies in line with their particular thematic focus
  • Should we pursue a less EU-Studies focused approach? Which region / level should we start looking at?
  • We could display regional views, particularly from Africa


2. Our future work approach and format: Dialogues, Discussion Forum, Meetings

In our Sunday meeting we discussed a three-track approach which is slightly re-modeling our work approach and formats. For more details, see: Results Meeting Vienna

I. UNSA Dialogues: Online conversation to get to learn new views / members' & pracitioners' views - with a focus on (practical) experiences, case studies, issue, different view points...

II. UNSA wiki portal-facilitated (more academic, theoretical, philosophical) exchange / discussion: covering main thoughts of mission statement incl. theoretical aspects of UN Studies - see Discussion Papers

III. Build knowledge-base of syllabi or other relevant material -> provides further food for thought

***Possible discussion topic

  • How to best intensify / deepen our conceptual work? Face-to-face meetings / workshops?
  • How can we best synthesize discussion results / generalize practical experiences?
  • How can we transfer discussion results to the wider UNSA / ACUNS membership?
  • How can we further enhance participation in the online discussion?

Issues that were raised in Vienna:

Challenge: build bridge between practice and theory

  • Does this work in the suggested, three-fold proceeding? (phone and online discussions, meetings)
  • We need to place the individual experiences and views in the wider theoretical framework. Who does the connecting / reflecting part?

How to tackle the wide scope of UN Studies?

  • different UN organizations with specific strategy to communicate their message and reach out to youth, for instance
  • invite members of UNESCO, for example, to speak on a specific issue
  • translate this input into discussion papers
  • enhance multilingual, multi-cultural dialogue across all disciplines

Learning aspects

  • interest in learning more about different understandings of certain general concepts
  • bring students, practitioners and academics together to learn about different views (on the UN system, various related aspects), different problem understanding
  • think about methodology used in classes, mixture about theoretical and practical approaches
  • importance of awareness-raising, reach out to more regions
  • building a knowledge-base about global governance -> UN system critical part in this effort

enhance communication and discourse in general

  • feedback channels of students doing internships at the UN -> empower students, help them speak up
  • install podcasts as new feature, in addition to bookmarks / tagging
  • motivate people to put more resources and links, syllabi compendium online -> add more content
  • phone conferences covering the entire world -> accommodate people in all time zones
  • record lectures, put audio/video files online and organize discussion around this initial, already existing content

Issues raised during the discussion:

How do we bring in voices from the next generation / other regions / practitioners / ... ?

Our group is informal, grassroots.

Moreover, it is highly diverse. The views, needs and interests of practitioners, teachers, academics all differ widely.

**How to best integrate all these different views?

Proposal: dual-step approach

  1. let us first work on our definition / concept of UN Studies, then reach out to other regions etc.
  2. work with interested parties along this more "theoretical" road -> build UN Studies community around joint concept of UN Studies, as orginally planned; treat our concept as a constant work in progress, open to revisions, additions, etc.

Our UNSA Dialogues will support this process, we might include presentations on certain aspects of our mission statement (in work).

We came to the conclusion that building this magical bridge between practitioners and academics is the most vital issue our UNSA Dialogues should address. For example: How to teach about the IPCC, a scientific matter which mostly appears bureaucratic and theoretical to students - although it is certainly not?

Kirsten offered to take the initiative and prepare for a series of dialogues on this issue.


3. Outlook on future activities

Summer school / workshop for the ne(x)t generation, joint training of new media tools (wikis) for students, teachers and practitioners

UNSA meeting prior to the ACUNS 2009 annual meeting in Trinidad and Tobago to connect with potential partners from the Caribbean who might have an interest in UN Studies.