Results UNSA Meeting

15 participants - representing ACUNS, the University of Vienna ( various faculties) , the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the University of Montenegro, the European University in Skopje, and the Austrian Science and Research Liaison Office Ljubljana - met at the Juridicum (Law School Building) on Sunday, November 23, for an informal discussion about UNSA's collaborative effort to develop a joint concept of UN Studies. 

They developed a tentative work agenda for 2009, including:

- a summer school for the ne(x)t generation, training / using new media

- a 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.

- continued UNSA dialogues to get to know people from other regions and their perspectives (to follow-up on the colloqium's theme)

- continued UNSA Discussion via discussion papers and wiki portal to further advance our joint work on UN Studies concept, including theory-building, with the opportunity to publish results in the Journal on International Organization Studies .

Thanks to all who participated in this meeting!

Results of our discussion 


Kick-off: Reviewing the UNSA Dialogues

  • Too ambitious?
  • Too many features?
  • Technological problems?
  • Too complicated?
  • Too abstract topics
  • Suggestions for future topics -> more issue-related discussion
  • Issues were missing in yesterday's discussion


Key concern: How to better promote the need for UN Studies?


  • address diverse audiences
  • get in the voices of the region
  • have phone conferences and featured presenter (15 minutes)
  • initial presentations / thoughts posted on the wiki portal - well in advance
  • the issue discussion is over, then what? How to integrate results into our work?


Proposed solution: Combination of three, complimentary tracks of action:

I. Online conversation to get to learn new views / members' & pracitioners' views - with a focus on (practical) experiences, case studies, issues

II. wiki portal-facilitated (more academic, theoretical, philosophical) exchange: covering main thoughts of mission statement incl. theoretical aspects of UN Studies -> can be deepened in face-to-face meetings / workshops; try to synthesize / generalize practical experiences

III. Build knowledge-base of syllabi as input -> provides further food for thought

Related issues / questions raised:

Challenge: build bridge between practice and theory

  • Does this work in the suggested, three-fold proceeding?
  • Who does the connecting / reflecting? Who places the individual experiences and views in the wider theoretical framework?

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 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

engage and empower the regions

  • teaching in a region with almost no infrastructure -> biggest challenge to act as facilitator / transmitter / (sole) connection between local (students) and international level
  • interested in more cooperation and dialogue, support of all kinds

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


Possible follow-up


  • Regional network
  • Make use of UN infrastructure, in Vienna
  • Build Knowledge-base, use UN's work on terminology
    • -> add links to portal, based on provided list
    • -> add value: multilingual, offer criticism / rating / feedback / comments on link lists, could also be done with syllabi
    • -> ask users for feedback: is this helpful


  • Incorporate philosophical, linguistic dimension -> see track II


Ne(x)t Generation project 2009


  • organize interactive experiment/ prototype to learn from, share experiences with wider ACUNS and UNSA membership
  • connect with the net generation
  • start with face-to-face meeting (Spring / Summer 2009), continued online (dual approach)
  • work on specific issue, facilitated by new media
  • Which students? Which teachers? They should learn from each other
  • we should also include practitioners
  • perhaps back to back to UNESCO Summer School in early July
  • apply for grant in 2010. So start smaller in 2009.
  • incorporate results of the ACUNS annual meeting in summer school idea.
  • have December 4 online discussion on this topic - how to best prepare for Trinidad / the workshop?

NEW see also: Vienna Summer School




  • Caribbean countries offer practical experience
  • offer academic contributions
  • such substantive issues fit best into the ACUNS meeting agenda
  • local university tries to gather regional UNAs


Separate UNSA meeting / workshop

  • continue philosophical / theoretical discussion on UN Studies?
  • use opportunity to network - who is who, and who aspires / does what in regard to UN Studies? Go beyond UNAs, however, and broaden outreach to human rights experts, etc.
  • ensure engagement of participants who cannot attend in person. Use new media wisely, chose technologies that really work (no crackling sound, or disrupted videostreaming). A blog or podcast might work, will be offered by relaunched ACUNS website, and could be used during annual meeting.
  • general meeting focus on regions: Regional initiatives? Role of regional networks? Role models? What defines regional power? How is power distributed?
  • use the discussion papers for a more substantial exploration of UN Studies