2008 Bonn Seminar on UN Research and Teaching - Concept


General Seminar (Series) Idea: Thematic Framework

Series of Seminars on UN Research and Teaching

  1. (New) perspectives and views on the UN (UN Ontology)
  2. (New) approaches to study the UN (UN Epistemology)
  3. (New) methods in (research) and teaching (UN Methodology)
  • three-year / long-term project
  • starting with the launch of the first seminar in June 2008
  • results of the seminar series could be presented in textbook series

Key questions:

  • How is the UN viewed in research and teaching?
  • What assumptions are made around the nature of the UN?
  • What are innovative ways to look at the world organization?

Key Purposes:

  • evaluate existing research and teaching contents
  • explore innovative views on the functioning, structure, qualities and features of the UN
  • translate new views and perspectives into innovative research and teaching (methods, approaches, tools)
  • raise awareness for the UN as subject of research and teaching

Participants will:

  • work on a joint knowledge base
  • get the opportunity to reflect on their own basic, implicit assumptions and aspirations regarding the nature of UN
  • experience the views of others and broaden their research and teaching horizon

Discussion about Thematic Framework: During our discussion on January 28, participants stated / suggested:

  • case studies - e.g. climate change as umbrella topic
  • emphasis on divide between theory and practice
  • address both the research as well as teaching side


Seminar contributions

The seminar is planned as a combination of short, informal introductory presentations or statements, followed by brainstorming sessions on relevant questions and problems (concerning the past, present, and future views of the UN) as well as the question how to best translate our findings into research and teaching practice.

To kick off each of the three brainstorming sessions, we ask all participants to prepare for informal, 5-7 minute introductory presentations or statements on a topic of their choice.

Content / topics: Please relate your presentation or statement to one of the brainstorming session topics as given in the agenda above. You are welcome to contribute to any (or each) of the brainstorming sessions; however, we would like to ask you to contribute to at least one session. (As was discussed by the planning team, you are invited to refer to a case study, such as climate change. Please feel free to choose your own topic.)

Format and duration of presentations: We imagine 5-7 minute oral presentations. These may be based on full papers or any other kinds of written input – but need not be. In general, there is no obligation to present a paper.

Results: We are considering to include your input and ideas (your initial presentations as well as the brainstorming results) in a joint publication and/or UN Studies material for classrooms, if possible and useful. We will be happy to circulate your statements, material, presentations in advance of the seminar. Please send us your input to workinggroup@unstudies.org.

Session 1

  • Henrike Paepcke, Consultant; UN Studies Working Group, Berlin, Germany - general overview of UN study programs world-wide
  • Albrecht Horn, former Director of the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, New York; Lecturer; Board Member, German UNA, Germany - Dominant misinterpretations of the UN: assessing autonomy and efficacy of the UN as an intergovernmental organization

Lunch Break

  • Alexander Siedschlag, World Wide Education (WWEDU): Report on the international colloquium “The United Nations and the New Media/Information Age”, organized by WWEDU and ACUNS, November 16, 2007 in Wels, Austria
  • Manuel Fröhlich, DGVN: UN Studies in Germany

Session 2

special speaker: Richard Jolly, The CUNY Graduate Center; UN Intellectual History Project, New York, USA - The UN Intellectual History Project

  • Julia Harfensteller, University of Bremen; UN Studies Working Group, Berlin, Germany - research side / UN and language
  • Ibrahim Saleh, The American University, Cairo, Egypt - studies linking UN and Media as in succcesful public diplomacy, peace building / dealing with the current political PR-ization
  • Sylvia Karlsson, Turku School of Economics, Finland - research side / multilevelness
  • Rudolf Christoph Reiet, University of Bonn - The UN Legal Research Group - re-writing the UN Charter
  • Albrecht Horn, former Director of the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, New York; Lecturer; Board Member, German UNA - Intergovernmental agreements and their national implementation as core function of the UN

Session 3


Expected results

  • The initial idea was to publish the seminar contributions and follow-up articles within the framework of a larger publication series of the working group - "UN Studies" Series.
  • We should seek other publication channels beyond the traditional ones, such as an electronic journal and the internet.
  • We will offer solutions for teachers , including power point presentations, online depository of syllabi
  • We are also planning on presenting the results of the discussions at a workshop panel at the ACUNS 2008 annual meeting - see Project ACUNS 2008.

Actual results

For actual results, please see Seminar Results. For our follow-up discussion on framing a concept of UN Studies, please see Concept UN Studies.