Results of the 2008 Vienna Colloquium

Report of the Vienna Colloquium on November 22, 2008, at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna


Session I: Welcome

Welcome by Michael Platzer, ACUNS Liaision Officer in Vienna

  • Outline of past, present and future activities

Gerhard Reiweger, Deputy Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

  • Topic is important, as are the location - UN city- and the venue - Diplomatic Academy with expertise, global focus, multilingual teaching environment
  • -> opportunity to intensify academic networking
  • -> focus on South-Eastern Europe

Helmut Böck, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN

  • UN system at core of effective multilateralism
  • different views on the UN system, and how the UN works
  • specific role of universities in educating students

Keynote: Thomas Stelzer, Assistant SG for Policy Coordination and Inter Agency Affairs, UN New York

  • understanding of the UN depends on practical experience - not reading
  • How to act in this world with / through the UN?
  • limited perception as UN as UN of member states – today: UN of people, new stakeholder approach

Teaching about UN:

  • Through the lens of a practitioner
  • Teach students about their own role, shared interests, how to build / expand consensus , Raise awareness for interconnectedness of people, increase solidarity
  • –> focus is on the convening function of the UN

concrete teaching tasks:

  • provide linkage between UN and stakeholders
  • diffuse UN message

new UN-academia relationship:

  • initiative: better link UN with academia – draft paper “the UN Academic Impact” (Nov. 3)
  • links are not (yet) institutionalized
  • encourage specific action with the aim to enlarge UN convening role, such as stakeholder events to define global norms and discuss ways to better implement them
  • new research projects (UNESCO), or Global Compact alliances with business schools

more recommendations / opportunities, inter alia:

  • strategic communication of UN activities
  • create new educational opportunities regardless of race etc.
  • build high-educational capacities
  • encourage global citizenship through education
  • address concrete issues such as MDGs, Peace and Security etc.
  • promote intercultural dialogue
  • identify challenge –> build consensus –> global solution


Session II: Thematic Introduction, Brief Status Quo CEE/SEE

Patricia Goff, Executive Director, ACUNS

  • UN is normally integrated in Global governance teaching contexts – leads to more theoretical perspective, leaves out practitioners’ experience - > growing demand for students


  • Use opportunities to bring practitioners into the classroom, using active learning techniques


  • IR course – case-based learning combined with practitioner guests: student groups working on a certain issue, drafting recommendations, then getting practitioner view and direct feedback
  • MA course – one case from different angles , same procedure as above along with pre- and post-test

Question: Is it appropriate / desirable to be advocating on behalf of the UN?

  • -> provide corrective to overly positive views / perceptions in Canada – different to negative perceptions in the U.S.
  • -> addendum: advocate the achievements of the UN, specifically address legislators.

Methodologies and approaches differ vastly – what traditions exist in CEE/SEE region?

Milan Brglez, Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana


  • no developed community of IR scholars
  • open to interventions by Americans - established network in 1994
  • scholarly response not overly enthusiastic
  • 1996 foundation of a regional International Studies Association, regular conferences, own publication
  • WISC conference in Ljubljana, July 2008, participants from 70 countries

Status of UN(-related) studies:

  • No UN Studies, due to lack of history in the field of IR ( IOs are being taught)
  • UN Studies should be transdisciplinary: IR, political science, sociology, economy, law
  • New perspectives on the UN – focus is on specific subjects, going beyond the member states
  • Techniques: simulations across universities

Axel Wüstenhagen, Pilot Study UN Information Service Vienna

Questionnaire Structure and Results.

  • covering a broad range of topics (IO, UN, human rights, international law, etc.)
  • sent to 240 university lecturers, institutes
  • 392 courses, lectures, etc. were identified. Only 56 dealt with UN, mostly covering IL issues. Of all political science courses 26% do not cover the UN at all. 46 research papers.


  • room for more specialized courses on the UN functions, activities, reform
  • role of Vienna as main UN-HQ not reflected at academic level
  • focus less on UN but predominantly on EU issues

Message from Jean-Marc Coicaud, UN University Office at the UN in New York

Limitations of UN research and teaching

  • UN not viewed as leading actor in global affairs.
  • Western-centric / provincial view.
  • -> UNU tries to establish global knowledge community about the UN.
  • e.g. by organizing events to disseminate knowledge and skills (from HQ to the ground).

Discussion points:

  • UN initiative to establish links with academia -> UN-OLA: Audiovisual library on International Law
  • Teaching of IL at Vienna universities mostly at law faculties
  • Advocating the UN? Neither blaming, neither praising – but focus on issues such as HR, limitations and opportunities
  • Lack of holistic approach of what the UN can achieve in a certain field, such as conflict resolution (Darfur)
  • -> such matters should be moved into theoretical analysis, students wish to be involved in UN activities in an informal professional manner
  • Role of knowledge production in GG? -> articulation mostly done by academia
  • Juxtaposing EU and UN Studies is a retreat to provincialism. Teaching programs should be open to global as well as local society levels.
  • More journals with reliable knowledge
  • Teaching international nuclear law – findings:
  • Governments matter.
  • Academia is important in terms of transfer of knowledge, allow and foster open discussion of critical failures of the UN / activities
  • Consider the anthropological view -> integrated in UN system? Rather diffuse ideas, multi-cultural. -> World Bank effort (ended in 2004).


Session III: Simulations, Role Play, Structured Debates, Case Studies, etc.

Matthias Ketteman, University of Graz: Using Structured Debates

  • Interdisciplinary technique, integrating different (cultural) backgrounds, ability to create empathy important for future professional life, drafting / writing / presentation skills

Helmut Prantner - University of Vienna: Historical Model UNs

  • HistoMUN focuses on Security Council , problem-based learning approach
  • and SISPR (Students Initiative for Security Policy Research), examines all aspects of the concept of securita

Stefan Schuman - University of Vienna: Law Clinics as experiental / service learning

  • teaching methodology addresses practical questions, students in direct exchange with prisoners and practitioners, students are expected to understand one prisoner’s verdict

Ingfrid Schütz-Müller, University of Vienna: Excursions to UN Headquarters in combination with courses

Ervin Gömbös, Head of UNA Hungary: UN Academy – series of 10 lectures and consultations once a week

Alexander Siedschlag, Center for European Security Studies, WWEDU World Wide Education: Conference Report “The UN and the information age – education for the next generation of the “peoples of the United Nations”, November 2007

  • Technical side: e-teaching / e-science combined with intellectual framework, e.g. covering the question of how to use new media in support of post-conflict reconstruction, human rights
  • -> knowledge, not technology is the driving force – use technology to transfer knowledge to even distant, under-developed regions
  • -> creating spaces for intercultural exchange and communication

Magdalena Pampalk, University of Vienna: International Criminal Justice Course

Maj Julardzija, Peace Support Operations Training Center (PSOTC) Sarajevo: Human Capacity Building for UN mandated Peace Support Operations

  • Aim is to enhance understanding of how to communicate and cooperate with agencies, etc.
  • realistic exercises in fictional countries: e.g. disaster management

Karin Kneissl, Webster University: Conference Simulation

  • critical issues: lack of access to internships, absence of supervision and reasonable tasks

Teresa Peintinger, University of Vienna: Active Learning – Field Experiences with UN Guidelines

  • adressing the juvenile prisoners / justice problem – experienced own change of view (less victim-focused), gained insight in practical impact

Gerhard Budin, University of Vienna, Center for Translation Studies

  • Languages, Terminologies, Translation, Interpretation
  • -> in close cooperation with UN Translation Service, interest in multilingual e-services, new methods in interpreting

Schön, Fachhochschule / School of Applied Sciences Grems (?)

  • attends export-oriented management course, provides business-related view
  • course includes Guest lectures and study trips – financial and IR / IL pillar
  • -> outcome: acknowledge different dimensions, understand limitations and opportunities of key actors


Session IV: Technology Enhanced Learning about the UN System -> Active Learning Techniques

Maher Nasser, UNIS Vienna: Computer based materials useful for education or training on the UN

  • Focusing on certain themes such as hunger, e.g. provided by UNICEF or UNHCR
  • Cyber School Bus , online games for kids and youth -> see list of online references

Karin Bruckmüller, University of Vienna : E-learning

  • good alternative to traditional teaching
  • advantages: wider audience, wider access, lowering travel costs, guest speakers
  • synchronous online teaching (linking in real-time), multimedia presentations
  • Online-Teaching

Ivana Krstic ,Faculty of Law, University of Belgrad

  • UN as part of IL courses (international public law)
  • Interactive lectures combined with seminars, role-plays, simulations, etc.
  • Emphasis on writing (essays, etc.)

Slawomir Redo, UNODC, Justice & Integrity Unit, Division for Operations: The UNODC computer-based tools for the international criminal justice education

  • on different themes (based on UN conventions - drugs, organized crime, etc.)
  • Workshops with practitioners and academics
  • Lessons learned: Put the right message into the right (local) context

Dietmar Lampert, Centre for Social Innovation, Vienna: presentation of the broadband videoconferencing tool “GLOBAL - Global Linkage Over Broadband Links”

Presentation on the UN Digital Library

  • Proposal: establish UN Studies Library Network; identify relevant models, courses

Report about the IAEA

John Mathiason, Syracuse University: Virtual classroom

  • Presentation of the Elluminate software, including shared whiteboard, downloads, online chat / instant messaging, sharing desktops and applications


Session V: CEE/SEE regional cooperation on UN Studies and Teaching: The Way Ahead?!

Walter Lichem

  • Create interdisciplinary platform, strengthen bridge between academia and policy process Brglez: regional perspective – not necessarily a generational matter
  • Spread the message
  • Share methods, knowledge about tools
  • Using new technologies

Patricia Goff

  • ACUNS as major facilitator
  • launches new website, with new means for communication, in combination with UNSA wiki portal