19 September 2011

E-discussion on Women and Girls

Please join us on the discussion on Social Good Summit “Women and Girls” with moderator Michele Vella, from Lehigh University, who is going to address two topics related to Women and Girls :
- Empowering Women and Girls : Hollywood, the United Nations and the Influence of Media. Watch discussion archive.
- Women and Girls Lead : Where Storytelling, Gaming and Public Media Converge. Watch discussion archive.

Geena Davis, Academy Award Winning-Actor (@GDIGM)
Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS (@PaulaKerger)
Abigail Disney, Executive Producer of Women, War, War & Peace(@WomenWarPeace)

Asi Burak, Co-president of Games of Change (@ABurak)

Live moderator:
Aaron Sherinian, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations of the United Nations Foundation (@ASherinian)

24 September
Jane: The Social Good Summit ended, but the conversation continues...

The UN Puts Women and Girls at Center of Conversation, Tabby Biddle, Huffington Post (blog), 22 September,
Media players talk gender equality,” Variety, September 23, 2011.
Million Moms Challenge at UNGA, CGI,” ABC News – blog, September 20, 2011.
5 Super Important Things 'Bout Mashable's Social Good Summit, MTV-act, 22 September, 2011.
Melinda Gates goes from 0 to 17000+ Twitter followers in a day, The Seattle Times, 22 September, 2011.

21 September
Michele Vella
: Posting on behalf of Dr. Charles Brooks Psychologist, UNAI/King's College Panelist on International Psychology, and co-author of Subtle Suicide.

There is no doubt that media messages can influence not only public policy, but also self-perceptions and individual goal setting. I believe, however, that we should not focus on media messages as a determinant of attitudes and beliefs in the area of gender equality and female empowerment. Doing so distracts us from what should be our focus: the family and the educational system. No matter what media messages a girl or young woman receives, if those messages are not reinforced in the family, or in the educational process, the messages will have little, if any, effect.

For example, I taught psychological statistics courses in college for over 40 years. On average, women received higher grades in this course than men. However, I had dozens of female students who literally froze mentally and became quite anxious at the sight or mention of a numerical concept. A typical comment: “I just blank out and am lost over anything having to do with numbers.”

I always sat down with these students to try and assess just how bad their math knowledge and fear was. Sometimes their ability was quite good, and they were just suffering from typical anxiety brought on by rumors about how “impossible” the statistics course was. More often, however, their fear of math was quite serious and had a long-standing history. A typical comment: “My teachers always told me girls were not that good at math, so I should concentrate on writing. It’s no wonder. My mom always said that she was no good at it either. I must have inherited the bad math gene.” These young women had long ago bought into the message that they could not do math, and they quit trying.

On the other hand, when girls’ families tell them that through hard effort they can compete, master material, achieve personal satisfaction, and become productive members of society, they will be immune from negative effects of contradictory media messages. This protection will be further strengthened by teachers who reinforce the family message in the classroom. Negative media messages thus become irrelevant because girls and women learn from their families and teachers that they cannot control the media, but they can control their own efforts in meeting challenges and achieving personal success.

If we want to focus on the public media in the area of gender equality, we should not do so by looking to place blame on misplaced media themes. Rather, we should ask how public media can be used to encourage both families and teachers to instill positive self-images in their daughters and students to help them achieve educationally and personally.

20 September
: Spreading Light, By: Helping Hands and Beyond

As her mother walked towards the door to leave, Denise yells and cries, “Are you going to leave me”? Mother responded, “I don’t have a choice”. The little girl stood by the door as she cries, “mother, mother, mother please don’t go, don’t leave me, Who’s going to comb my hair, who’s going to take care of me, why must you leave me”? She continues to cry as her mother walks away. She remembered standing by the door, as immediate turmoil overshadowed her little being, her little soul; the unfairness of life was just about to beginning.

What kind of struggle will she encounter thereafter? Will she encounter a state of physical or mental functional impairment, with total complete dependence on someone else or society? Will her basic needs be met, such as eating, bathing, dressing or toileting? Who will comfort and nurture her inner being, who will encourage the perceived moments of failure, annihilation, hopelessness, helplessness, incompetence, discouragement and desperation?

At the age of sixteen Denise, who now is a teenager states “I am disgusted by the challenges of life”. I feel lost and confused, no focus efforts, impaired by fear of the unknown, fear of risk, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, lack of trust annihilates my targeted endeavors; Absence of hope, no ambitions, no prospects. No plans or goals, no purpose influencing my focus efforts; hoping to get by with the little that I have as I marinate in self pity with little dignity.”

Profound, I sighed as I pounder on the life of this young woman, it almost appeared to be too painful to ponder. Today, we are faced with young women all over the world with similar stories as Denise. Stories of hopelessness, emptiness, wondering what would come next. Will I ever make it? How many more young women will we see like Denise? Over the past two years while volunteering in different parts of the world. I’ve had the privileged in meeting some fantastic young women.

As a whole, whether I was in the United States, Grenada or Haiti, it is important to understand that these risk factors are associated with poverty and low educational achievements, as these factors are often elements operating in the lives of underachieved young women. While traveling in Haiti with Helping Hands and Beyond for example, I encountered young women who were of displaced families, food, water and basic necessities were hard to come by. An eight year old states that she walked approximately an hour round trip each day to get water from a local stream. Some of the girls came from tents, homes of dirt floors, lack basic sanitary latrines; many lack basic services such as public education and health care. Another sixteen year old young woman states, my mom is too poor to send us to school, (referring to herself and her siblings), I sell a few things here and there to buy food for the family. A report released by Population Action International, reveals 70 percent of Haiti’s population is under the age of 30. This report states that Haiti’s gender dynamics are related to high fertility levels because women feel compelled to have children to ensure economic support from their current partner. [1]

As a young woman who has been blessed and privileged with an education and strong women mentors, empowering young women like Denise is crucial. My personal role is dedicated towards making a difference in young women lives by promoting healthy living through, teaching primary preventative measures, nurturing, and to foster quality of life such as the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Empowered girls grow into educated successful young women, with abilities to establish independence through responsible decision making, develop social survival skill, learn leadership skills to gain access to new information and resources and develop self-confidence required to persevere and succeed. As result, these young women will become leaders and active members of their communities, great mothers, teachers and motivators. For “There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it. Edith Wharton.

Reference: Population Action International. The Effects of a Very Young Age Structure on Haiti. The Shape of Things to Come Series, 2010.  Helpinghandsandbeyond.org

Tinghua: After reading students' comments, it seems to me most of them are not satisfied with female images in social media, 'negative','housewife','hot girl''distressed and so on. I strongly support @Edward Soto's view that social media should represent more educated female image. Also, I would argue, it is social media that should take the responsibility to spread common women and girls' inspirational stories and shape 'women and girls lead' value.

Here is a video from 'women and girls lead'. I watched it on Social Good Summit this afternoon, touched by the ideas. Share here with you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY1qwD9eHH4

Michele: I facilitated a discussion among an outstanding group of high school students, UN Aspire of East Stroudsburg South High School. We enjoyed the speakers tremendously and students wrote reactions to the question how do you think public media shape images of women and girls ?. I have posted the students reactions:

Karissa Hensel: Hello my name is Karissa Hensel I’m from East Stroudsburg South high school.

I feel like the images for women these days are very degrading and not realistic. Today in the media we see girls that have been photo-shopped to what they call perfect these days. Little do they know that young girls and teenagers see these pictures and make it their mission to look just like them. Girls see the models, actress, and movie stars are then look back at themselves and compare the two. They want to be perfect like that and they just end up harming themselves in the end; Wither it’s from having an eating disorder or emotionally being hurt because of their background, body type, and even the littlest thing like hair. I wish girls saw themselves as powerful individuals who are amazing the way they are. I mean NO ONE and or NOTHING is perfect and I strongly believe that. I am in no means perfect and I don’t try to act like I am. I believe that women need to stand up for what they are and for what they believe in and don’t let anyone tell them that their thoughts are wrong. Most of all don’t let anyone, men, and or media tell you your nothing or worthless and cant amount to anything. That is so far from the truth and me as a strong Italian woman know from all the lies and degrading things they put in the media from the “Jersey Shore” and more. I would like to end this by saying than you for letting us tune in and be a part of this with my group.

Sean McFarlane: Hi, My name is Sean McFarlane. In my opinion, Women seem to do whatever they can to look like what’s portrayed on the media. I personally think that it’s not only women that do this but also men. Usually most people think that whatever is on television is how you should look. It’s wrong for people to have this process of thinking that they should look or be like someone. I also notice how women of color aren’t as exposed publically as caucasion women are.

Adil Khawaja: I think the media has portrayed women to only capable of running a household. Lately, the media has exposed/displayed women to be much younger, taller, and fit. In many movies, even G or PG ones, they always show a housewife and a working husband. Also, there are many magazines where they only take certain type of ‘idealistic’ women; a tall woman who is unnaturally fit. So, all in all, the media has confused the middle age group women, pressurizing them to look younger but act as nothing more than a housewife.

Samyra Legendre: Hello my name is Samyra Legendre and I am a part of the Aspire group of East Stroudsburg South high school.
I believe that women and girls that are shown TV, magazines and movies are negative. I feel this way because they always have to be in a certain uniform, such as for Caucasian people long hair, hourglass shape, and nice eyes. For African- American people females must have light skinned and non-course hair. I believe that the main racial group that is affected by the adds on T.V., magazines, and movies are the African American groups because they have show an African – American woman in a positive way whereas the Caucasian people have seen them selves in a positive way.

Matthew Goyco: Women and girls are represented as stay at home wives' whose job is to cook and clean. This is portrayed in society through tv, movies, and magazines. But why cant they have shows that show women being succsesful, and the stone of the family. I believe that women are very strong that can and have done great things. Instead of people trying to make women into something there not, they should just accept them for who they are. Also support then in the changes they make in the world.

Lindsay Ivory: In the media I think that women are represented for the most part in a negative way. They portray all women as being the same and they’re not being any diversity. Everyone has to be the same and since the majority of the media is produced in the United States it’s being put around the world. It is as if women’s job is to stand around and just be attractive and not to have smarts and women can’t do much of anything. It is most definitely different for colored women because they aren’t even portrayed as being proud of their background. They try to make the colored women lighter then they are suppose to be, like it is wrong to be black and proud. As a whole women are portrayed negatively.

Edward Soto: Hello my name is Edward Soto and I am a student of the East Stroudsburg Area High School South. I would first like to say that I am thankful for being able to participate in the virtual conference today.
Women in the media are represented as the damsel in distress, being every day housewife, or just the “hot girl” in the movie. I think that women should have more opportunities in movies and in magazines to be represented as more educated individuals.

Comment sent from weibo.com: “ Talking about female image, first of all, we must recognize that no matter in social media or in reality biological gender differences shape psychological differences as well as expectations of social roles. However, I think the purpose of today’s discussion is not for triggering feminism mood. Instead, it is for empowering the most common female to have an awareness of their potentials and possibilities for self-development and encouraging them to have richer life experience. ” (Luren Chuan, 20 Sept 07:03)

19 September
Michael: As a high school teacher, I cannot emphasize enough the impact modeling has on young people, especially young women. Through utilizing the outstanding people I have in my own life, I have taken the initiative to bring positive female role models into my classroom to speak about their successes, upbringing, and the obstacles they faced and overcame. The goal is to show young women that a multifaceted identity of what being a woman means is something that they own and are strong enough to explore. Unfortunately, the consumerism of our society has created identities which are easy to Step into...is education a counter-balance to these images and what impact do they have on our students of lower educational backgrounds? These are the issues educators face in the classroom every day as we encourage our students to embrace curriculum which may not speak to them on a personal, cultural, or gender based level. What impact do images of mothers struggling to keep their children alive or even find something to feed their children in Somalia and Ethiopia have on an American society where we have easy access to everything. An image and identity that is implanted on us through media and reinforced constantly is my greatest concern for these young women and even our men.

Michele Vella: Public media images shape gender equity. They also provide a visual model for disempowerment or empowerment of women and girls. I think when conveying female images it is important to consider the lens or perspective of the represented image: is it international, multiculturally relevant, Western, meant to sell a product, fulfill an unmet psychological or socio-cultural need? Unfortunately, when an image is not analyzed/critiqued from multiple angles and with sufficient skepticism, it could be psychologically stunting to female growth or maintaining a healthy balance between idealized images of perfection (e.g., photoshop) versus reality. Lastly I wonder about international access to such images? Is access to media an indication of privilege? Are these images as meaningful or influential for women who cannot meet their own basic living necessities?
E-discussion on Arab Spring|e-discussion-on-arab-spring-starts|Mon, 19 Sep 2011 21:03:32 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|Please join us on the discussion on Social Good Summit “The Arab Spring Startup Revolution” with moderator CUNY Baccalaureate. Watch discussion archive.

Andrea Koppel, Vice President of Global Engagement & Policy, Mercy Corps, Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps (@MercyCorps)
Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, U.S. Department of State and Salman Shaikh, Director, Brookings Doha Center

Summary submitted by Moderator Rafal Szczurowski
In conjunction with the Social Good Summit (SGS) panel on the “Arab Awakening: Apps and Aspiration,” the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) hosted an online discussion on the Arab Spring from September 20th to 22nd. This virtual exchange of ideas was moderated by CUNY Baccalaureate Academic Advisor, Rafal Szczurowski. The discussion revolved around youth engagement in political and social activities after revolutionary events. Participants were asked to share their thoughts on building or rebuilding civil society, social structures, and communities.

Analyzing all post-conflict environments, Emily Mitchell-Marell suggested taking “micro” steps to rebuild individual lives. CUNY Baccalaureate Senior Academic Advisor, Kate McPherson emphasized the importance of education and inter-cultural exchange. CUNY Baccalaureate student Maisha Lopa focused on strengthening democratic institutions. Finally, Jonathan Gabay outlined the role of youth in promoting cross-generational dialogue and understanding.

CUNY Baccalaureate student Raja Althaibani spent several months in Yemen covering the uprising as a citizen journalist. She agreed with Shafina Rahim that a post-revolutionary environment is not a place for passive attitude. Young people, described as the “adrenaline of revolutionary movements,” need to remain engaged in every stage of policy development. Raja pondered the role of different factions in a transition to democracy. She appealed for youth, tribes, religious groups, and political parties to share responsibilities and establish an all-inclusive decision making process.

Views expressed during the online discussion constitute a valuable contribution to the studies of Arab Spring and its aftermath. They offer a full spectrum of actions for young people in a post-revolutionary environment. Together with the Social Good Summit, the debate demonstrated the importance of social media in constructing a free and open marketplace of ideas.

CUNY Baccalaureate (www.cunyba.cuny.edu) is the City University’s individualized degree, one of the few places where students can create degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and other emerging fields. The program will host a Symposium on the Arab Spring on October 19, 2011. For more details, please visit: http://cunyba.gc.cuny.edu/blog/cuny-ba-symposium-on-the-arab-spring/

Discussion details:
27 September
Jennifer: Helping to stop poverty in Africa and improve education not just for boys buts girls as well is a great cause that we must try to achieve. The UN Club at Fairleigh Dickinson University is tackling this very issue.

23 September
Pala Suriya Kala: Applause to The SG for taking up the cause of the girl child and liberty is sought after pride of the common man of every nation and the UN efforts to stand by every revolution of the people , re emphasizes its great mission that it stands for a Peaceful world....

UN Academic Impact: Yesterday presenting his We, the Peoples report to the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: This year's dramatic events in North Africa and the Middle East inspired us. Let us help make the Arab Spring a true season of hope for all.
Standing here today, I hear many millions of other young boys and girls ... asking our help, looking for hope. They need solutions. They demand leadership. They want us to act. To act with compassion, courage and conviction. To act in concert ... nations united at the United Nations.

Shafina Rahim: In any post-revolutionary environment there are difficulties. It is not okay to exclude minority groups in the political process. Their exclusion would be counter productive to the revolution. I am a believer in processual change.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets representation immediately. Ideally, they should, but thus far on our planet they have not.Raja Althaibani
The Youth are the adrenaline of these movements- the movement's energy. It is important that they remain engaged and critical throughout the transitional process and even if they are in the midst of conflict. There is also a question of domination. No one group should be dominating over the other. The greater challenge is finding the balance. Youth, tribes, religious groups, political groups sharing responsibilities and making decisions together. As we see in many of the uprising zones, this isn't always the case. We all have shared objectives, its the a matter of incorporating our methods of implementation and action that is the challenge.

22 September
Raja AlthaibaniRaja Althaibani: What about the concern of forcing change to hastily? And other key players who are part of the movement? In Egypt, Yemen, Syria, etc the youth have all been at the forefront of the resistance, yet what I've noticed is that we continue to focus on them and have ignored other major actors. For example: Yemen's tribal groups, Egypt's Religious groups, etc.... these are all key players we can not push aside. What roles are they playing--- and more so, if their values are deemed to traditional by others, is it okay to exclude them from the political process? If excluded wouldn't that incite a whole new set of challenges and conflict. A democracy is about representation. It's about everyone having a voice. Any thoughts?

Shafina Rahim: In an effort to realize an egalitarian society, young people in a post- revolutionary political and social environment should assume their rightful place alongside those vying for power. They should actively and critically engage with new political, social and economical policies. As the beneficiaries of those policies, it is crucial for young people’s voice to be incorporated in every stage of policy development. The long term success of the revolution heavily depends on this component. A post-revolutionary environment is no place for passive young people.

21 September
Rafal Szczurowski: As James wrote, young people are the key to the future. They have been at the forefront of political and social changes in history. According to Norhan, the youth will reintroduce Egypt’s traditional cultural norms of tolerance and respect for others. This leads me to another question, how do you evaluate the role of youth in revolutions taking place in the Middle East? What are their most important accomplishments and biggest concerns?

James Aldworth: Young people, more than any group, hold the key to ensuring that revolutionary change does not dissipate or become diluted. It is too easy for existing norms of behaviour and restraining elements in society to regain influence, once the initial revolutionary fervour has died down. This is when young people can take the lead, by taking the opportunity in a freer environment, to absorb ideas and practices from other democracies, and introduce these to their communities. Accessing news, instigating debate, and participating in civil society are ways in which young people can keep the momentum alive.

In Egypt in particular we saw the widespread use of social media to mobilise people, this activity should continue. Simply debating issues on a forum such as Facebook, between friends, assists in keeping discussion alive. The keep is to challenge established behaviour, and as a society becomes more liberal and less oppressed, this will become second nature to its citizens.

Young people are the key to the future and their civil participation is vital.

Rafal Szczurowski: I would like to thank all participants for expressing their opinions. They offer a full spectrum of actions for young people in a post-revolutionary environment. Emily suggested taking “micro” steps to rebuild individual lives, Kate and Norhan emphasized the importance of education, Maisha focused on strengthening democratic institutions, and Deepak offered a concrete example of the April 6th Youth Movement in Egypt organizing “town hall” meetings for everybody to participate. Finally, Jonathan brought up the role of youth in remembrance through different art forms and in generating cross-generational cooperation and understanding. These inspirational ideas are a valuable contribution to the discussion on the Arab Spring and its aftermath.

Maisha Lopa: I think the most important thing young people can do after a revolution is to keep their newly elected governments accountable for building democratic institutions. We know from theories of post conflict nation building that the best way to sustain democracy in fragile environments is by establishing strong democratic institutions. Young people can use the media, as they have done to successfully in the past to change unfavorable regimes, to hold elected officials accountable and responsive to the need for democratic institutions.

Kate McPherson: Revolutions are successful when a diverse group of people who share a hope and vision for the future of their country come together to effect change but that after the dust settles the diversity of opinions and approaches need to be included in debate. These revolutions are about the toppling of unilateral regimes and need to be followed by the construction of civil societies and governments which allow for many voices. Remember the shared goal, embrace people who you disagree with, do the hard work of finding common ground.

Young people should focus not only on what is happening in their own countries but in other ones. Travel, study abroad, explore the world and the multitude of viewpoints and voices and solutions that are out there.
Deepak Kukade: I think the best example of a what should be done post revolution is what the April 6th Youth movement was shown doing via Al Jazeera. Following the fall of Mubarak the members of this organization held 'town hall' meetings where they invited everyone and anyone, no matter their religious beliefs or political ideologies. By doing this the community as a whole not only got to voice their opinion, but they were also educated on how the political/legislative/judicial/ process works in Egypt.

Emily Mitchell-Marell: After a revolution, I would want to think about what I want for me and the people I love. A revolution is communal, a group effort towards something new and change on a large scale. But in that time of transition, after the revolution has taken place and I am about to enter this new and different world, I would start to focus on the micro rather then the macro; building a new life with my personal community around me and working out what we need to be a part of this changed environment, what we want for ourselves now that things have been reformed on a larger scale.

19 September
Jonathan: The morning after the revolution is still a time for celebration but also for reflection about the future. First days, weeks, and months of even partial freedom and independence are about organizing civil society and new social structures. What do you think should be the role of young people in a post-revolutionary political and social environment?

After any and all revolution the job of youths are to ensure that what occurred is not forgotten. The tragedies and the former imposition by the government should be memorialized in the form of writing, poetry, songs, pictures...in this new age it should be blogged. Then the job of young people would be to spread the word to those even younger. To make sure the entire world is aware of what happens when people let government amass too much power. Young people have the energy and the anger and the will, this power should not be wasted.

It is also necessary for the young to begin to work with those older. It takes an entire nation and an entire people to truly enact change. The responsibility of the young would be to help the old adjust to this new life, A life the elderly may resist or not understand.

Norhan: Many thanks to the UN Academic Impact and of course to CUNY Baccalaureate for moderating this discussion. In regards to the question about what should be the role of young people in a post-revolutionary political and social environment-- I will answer it from my perspective via the Egyptian Revolution with respects to the other nations involved in the Arab Spring:

Young people, as demonstrated through the continued successes of the revolutions happening across the Middle East, are the best candidates to act as agents of change to reclaim Egypt’s traditional cultural norm of tolerance and respect of the other. The need to reform curricula to instill ethics, problem-solving, entrepreneurial skills and the culture of invention and innovation is crucial during Egypt's post revolution and should not be forgotten now that Mubarak is no longer in power.

Secondly, it is important that we introduce channels of youth participation in governance to ensure a return to a merit-based Human Resource Management System and that it be separated from nepotism, patronage and “wasta.” The youth are reclaiming their rights to assemble, debate, criticize. They are the leaders of the Arab Spring and they are aware that the past dialogues made by their ex and soon to be ex-leaders have just been a window-dressing to satisfy international organizations’ appeals for a strong and free civil society-- one that has never benefited the people or had their best interest at heart.

UN Academic Impact: From Tunisia ....to Egypt, ordinary citizens have taken to the streets in a wave of popular uprisings known as the “Arab Spring.” At the forefront, the youth of the country, who are seizing the power of new technology and social media to help change history.

Egypt: Writing History is a UNTV programme on the Arab Spring, you may wish to watch it as an introduction to the discussion.

Rafal: Hello and welcome in an online discussion on the Arab Spring moderated by CUNY Baccalaureate. We welcome your thoughts and ideas and would like you to answer the question mentioned above.

The debated was opened by CUNY Baccalaureate student Norhan Basuni, who witnessed a revolution unfolding in the Tahrir Square in Cairo earlier this year. She explained that in a post-Mubarak Egypt, the role of youth is to reintroduce the country’s traditional cultural norms of tolerance and respect for others. Also commenting on Egypt, Deepak Kukade offered a concrete example of the April 6th Youth Movement organizing “town hall” meetings. James Aldworth wrote about the role of social media in mobilizing young protesters.
Responsibility and Reciprocity – Social Values for a Sustainable Economy |responsibility-and-reciprocity-%e2%80%93-social-values-for-a-sustainable-economy|Tue, 27 Sep 2011 20:12:12 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|This 4 and 5 November, the Antonio Meneghetti Faculty is organizing the congress Responsibility and Reciprocity – Social Values for a Sustainable Economy.

The Congress is still open for the free submission of academic articles on subjects related to its thematic lines, which are: (1) Education for a Green Economy and for Sustainable Development; (2) Management and Entrepreneurship in the Third Sector; (3) Science, Technology, Innovation and Society; (4) Millennium Development Goals and Global Compact; and (5) Humanism and Complexity.
Responsibility and Reciprocity is organized as part of the lead up to the Rio+20 Conference, of June 2012. The target audience is academic researchers, professionals and decision-makers working in the areas of responsibility, sustainability, social values and reciprocity.

The Congress will be held on the campus of the Antonio Meneghetti Faculty (www.faculdadeam.edu.br) in the city of Restinga Seca, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. To register and for more information go to the Congress website. www.reciprocidade.org.br
Launch of Tutu Authorised and International Day of Non-violence|launch-of-tutu-authorised-and-international-day-of-non-violence|Wed, 28 Sep 2011 00:23:01 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|UNAI commemorates the launch of “Tutu Authorised” and the observance of the International Day of Non-Violence with an event at the United Nations Bookshop, New York, October 4, 2011 1.15-2.45 p.m.


  • “Made for Goodness”, remarks by Cherie Blair: Chancellor, Asian Women’s University.

  • “A Tribute to the Arch” by Manjeev Singh Puri: Ambassador of India and former Consul-General for India in Capetown.

  • “The Strategy of Non-Violence” by Steve York: film producer, an excerpt of whose “A Force More Powerful” series will be screened.

Moderator: Kiyo Akasaka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

Read the report of the event in the News Section.

Tutu: Authorized is a celebration of the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an icon whose humanity and compassion has touched millions of lives around the world.

Born in Klerksdorp, South Africa,Desmond Tutu was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1960. He vigorously opposed apartheid and has dedicated his life to fighting all forms of oppression, advocating non-violence, peaceful reconciliation, and social justice for all.

(Desmond Tutu, UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)


Young Scientist Essay Contest for graduate and undergraduate students|young-scientist-essay-contest-for-graduate-and-undergraduate-students|Wed, 28 Sep 2011 22:58:13 +0000|News,Uncategorized,What’s happening|en|

Responsible conduct in the life sciences, the importance of safety and security as well as the role for international collaboration

Whilst advances in the life sciences bring incredible promise, they also carry with them potential risks. International efforts continue to find ways to ensure that the life sciences are used solely for our collective benefit.

The Biological Weapons Convention, as the world’s premier global forum to prevent the use of the life sciences to cause deliberate harm,  will meet in December to consider the next steps. What role should the scientific community play in this process?

Submit an 800 word original essay by 1 November to take part

The winner will receive a glass microbe sculpture from renowned artist . The author of the winning entry will also be invited on an all expenses paid trip (according to standard UN arrangements) to Geneva, Switzerland, to read their essay to the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention on 5 December.

Entries should be submitted before 1 November 2011 in Word or PDF format to: bwc@unog.ch. By submitting you are agreeing to attend the BWC review conference. All essays must include title, author’s full name, programme of study, degree enrolled in, name of institution and contact details. The organizers reserve the right to disqualify any entry judged as non-original or longer than 800 words and to use any entry for promotional purposes. The organizers are not responsible for any possible difficulties in submission. Only the winner will be notified of results.

For an example of essay, see the winning entry by Alex Hatch in the 5th Annual Bioethics Contest, sponsored by the Institute of Biological Engineering, entitled: .
Desmond Tutu 1996 interview for the UN Chronicle|desmond-tutu-1996-interview-for-the-un-chronicle|Thu, 06 Oct 2011 23:29:28 +0000|News|en|The following article was published in the December 1996 issue of the UN Chronicle and is reproduced here by special authorization of the Editor-in-Chief.

Without a new, strengthened ethical conscience, says Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, we are for the birds. The Archbishop, who was in New York for the release of the United Nations study on the impact of armed conflict on children - with which he was associated - spoke to us over the telephone soon after his return to Cape Town in December.

While long in coming, the dramatic demise of apartheid brought with it non-racial democracy. South Africa now has a new constitution that is described by many as the most liberal in the world. Your Grace, I would like to ask you in what ways international pressure, public opinion and the United Nations helped in bringing about this change?

Well, international pressure was absolutely crucial. Without it, what happened to this country would have been impossible. The United Nations [helped] through the many resolutions that were passed - culminating in the ones condemning apartheid as a crime against humanity, the resolutions about the arms embargo, the suspending of the membership of South Africa in the General Assembly. All of these helped to bring very considerable pressure to bear on the apartheid Government and its supporters; and, as I said in the beginning, without that help, without the support of the international community, without the United Nations helping to mobilize that support, we would not be where we are. We just want to express our profound gratitude for that support.

Have there been tangible effects from those efforts, in particular those of the United Nations, on individuals in South Africa?

Well, the fact of bringing about a democratic dispensation after you had a repressive one would be the most tangible. I do know that the United Nations helped in the provision of, for instance, scholarships to many South African exiles and refugees, which also had a very considerable impact on the lives of individuals. Just the fact of helping to isolate a maverick regime would already have been a very considerable achievement.

You are both a religious and a civil leader. Under the apartheid system, you were able to gain the respect of the international community and important leaders on all sides in South Africa. You've been crucial in helping steer your country through its transition to a non-racial democracy. How have these different roles - religious, spiritual and civil - helped you in your efforts then and now?

I hope that in all I have tried to do, I have been informed by my faith. I haven't said or done anything that could not be based firmly on my Christian understanding of a situation. And, therefore, I have not suffered from any sense of a kind of schizophrenia that now I was operating as a religious person and another time as a political animal. It has all been integrated, because our faith is an incarnational faith. What I do, what I say, is a direct consequence of the faith, insofar as I understand the Christian faith, and I would not have been myself able to do all of these things had it not been for that fundamental backing. I mean, all of what I have done has been the consequence and repercussion of my faith.

Again in those roles, and in particular as head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, how do you feel that the healing process should proceed in South Africa? Can these experiences be transported to other countries splintered by conflict, moving towards democratization or undergoing turbulent change?

I would say that at the heart of the Christian faith is reconciliation and atonement. Jesus Christ speaks of himself as drawing all to Him, and Paul speaks about how God was reconciling the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, what happens in the life of an individual has to be replicated in the lives of societies and of nations. Especially when you are in a period of transition from repression to democracy, there will have been gross violations of human rights that took place. It's crucial that the truth about that period is known so that the victims can be acknowledged, can be empowered, and can have their human and civil dignities rehabilitated in the process. That, in turn, enables them to be in a position to be ready to forgive, provided that the perpetrators for their part also acknowledge the wrong that they did, that in some places there is a judicial system in place because people are worried about impunity.

But I am myself very firmly convinced that if justice is the end of the process in a transition, then it's curtains really for that society. Without forgiveness going beyond justice, there can be no future. The healing process is that you should not pretend that the awful things that did happen did not happen, because through that kind of amnesia you are really victimizing the victims a second time around. As has been said, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

You've talked in a sense about how a country faces up to its past and yet still moves away from fear towards understanding and even tolerance. Is there help in that process that the international community and the United Nations can offer?

Of course, I think that we can always look to the examples of the sorts of things that the Chileans, the Argentinians, the El Salvadorans, the Spaniards, etc., have tried, so we can learn from their achievements as well as from their mistakes.

We obviously also need material assistance and financing. Our particular operation here has received fairly substantial support from the international community. We have an investigative unit, and about 12 or so of our investigators are people from different countries overseas. Other countries have invested in our operation by granting financial assistance for various parts of our programme. Here again, without such help, we would be very severely handicapped.

The process of reconciliation in South Africa, as you've already suggested, is long and not yet over. Are there still dangers it faces as this process continues?

Yes. Well, it is obvious that in revealing the gory harrowing details of some of the violations, you run the risk of whipping up emotions in the communities of those who have suffered. With people not quite understanding the whole process of amnesty and how it operates ... it may be that, as a community, we have not yet quite realized the price that we have had to pay for the stability that we are enjoying. It is only now dawning on people what a heavy price it is - when they think for instance that those who assassinated Chris Hani could qualify for amnesty. With some detailing gruesome acts of violations, people may become very upset and that could shake the process. Perhaps the most serious [danger] for me is if the communities that benefitted so signally under apartheid do not have a corresponding generosity of spirit to match the generosity of spirit of those who were the victims.

You are talking about a lengthy process. It's now been 51 years since the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations. Yet, we still see long, often bloody civil and ethnic conflicts, acts of genocide ...

Yes, yes! ... and other cruelty. Looking at the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Rwanda, South Africa, now eastern Zaire, do you feel that we need a new, strengthened ethical conscience as we head into the next millenium?

Well, without that, we are for the birds. I mean, clearly if we do not inculcate tolerance - tolerance of diversity, tolerance of differences - we are going to keep running up against the threat of explosions and eruptions when people take advantage of the different kinds of chauvinism to which we so easily succumb. You know, we obviously must give everybody space to be themselves. They must feel that their distinctiveness is not under threat. That their culture, their language, their religion (the things that make them who they are) are not under threat, forcing them therefore to react against those who are different from them in the sorts of ways that we have seen - the ethnic cleansings and so on. We should be able to find a way of giving people a sense of security.

At the present time, we are all going through a kind of transition, with many road signs having been shifted, points of reference either removed or changed. And so people have a sense of disorientation disorientation. That is why they want to cling to the simplistic answers that they can get from the fundamentalists. That is why they are then easily inveigled into saying that people who are different are dangerous, and why they can therefore support ethnic cleansing and so on.

Oh yes. You are after all a global organization and have still got remarkable resources of persons and skills. You played a wonderful role in the process of transition in Namibia. I mean, when people sometimes criticize the United Nations, when they point to the debacles, say, in Bosnia, they forget the splendid role that you played in Namibia, in Cambodia, in Mozambique, in South Africa.

They forget that the UN can only be as effective as it is enabled to be effective. You cannot expect an Organization which has Members withholding their contributions to have the capacity to do the things that it could do if it had those resources - which are, after all, resources made available by Member States.

And people forget the incredible work that is being done by the World Health Organization. It has helped to improve health generally in the world. They forget the work of UNICEF, which has reduced infant mortality rates in very many parts of the world. They forget the work of UNESCO, of the Human Rights Commission, of the High Commissioner for Refugees. People tend to see what they are looking for.

On another subject, you were involved in the preparation of a recent UN study on the impact of armed conflict on children, put together by Mrs. Graca Machel of Mozambique. She called it unconsiderable that we clearly and consistently see children's rights attacked, children assaulted, violated and murdered, and yet, our conscience has not revolved nor a sense of dignity challenged. How is it possible for the world to become so fatigued that we're moved only until the next image or crisis comes up? What can be done?

Well, I don't think that we should become too cynical or despondent. It is a survival mechanism. I think if we remain at the same level of sensitivity, possibly we would not be able to survive. What we should be saying more and more is that the faith community should be doing its damnedest to help develop a high level of morality. I mean, once you reach a certain stage, say, in sophistication, then if you are eating an apple and it falls on the ground, you don't think twice about the fact that you are not going to pick it up to eat. Whereas perhaps at a lower level of sophistication, maybe due to greater need, it could fall even in a very dirty spot and you would pick it up and brush it off and continue to eat it.

What I am trying to say is that we ought to be able to help people develop in such a way that certain things would be unthinkable - just as unthinkable as your picking up an apple that has fallen into a rubbish bin. That we would [by second nature] say it is totally unacceptable, totally unthinkable, that children should be turned into child soldiers.

It should be totally unthinkable, unacceptable, to allow the use of anti-personnel mines. We know that they are designed deliberately to maim, not to kill, and that most of the people who have become their casualties are not combatants, but civilians. How can we ever be able to tolerate Governments investing huge sums in the production of things of that kind, or be willing to use such abominable instruments of death and destruction?

And, developing this, we could get to the point where we say it is unconscionable, it is unacceptable, in a world of reasonable plenty, that so many should suffer starvation and hunger - all in a sense due to the fact that people in one part of the world have surpluses and are willing even to destroy those surpluses because they are worried about what effect dumping them on people in another part would have on prices. I mean, it is obscene.

And we ought to be working towards ensuring that we would have a nuclear-free world. We would have a world where all of us would be deeply conscious of ecological issues, where all of us would be people who are concerned about the international economic world order that is so basically, fundamentally unjust. It would become sort of automatic that we would dismiss or condemn things that did not measure up to the moral standards that the different faiths are helping to inculcate.
UNAI wishes Archbishop Tutu a happy 80th birthday!|unai-wishes-archbishop-tutu-a-happy-80th-birthday|Fri, 07 Oct 2011 00:16:46 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|Archbishop Tutu is turning 80 today, Friday 7 October. The UNAI event organized for the launch of his authorized biography last Tuesday was one of the many events around the world celebrating his birthday.

For many at the United Nations, the triumphant culmination of the non-violent struggle against apartheid in South Africa was the first major success of a United Nations backed popular movement for democracy and human rights. That fervour was rekindled at the United Nations Bookshop on Tuesday in an event to mark the global launch of a definitive biography of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the observance of the International Day of Non-violence which fell this year on the preceding Sunday.

The event, conducted by DPI Under-Secretary-General Kiyo Akasaka, was arranged by the United Nations Academic Impact which Archbishop Tutu, in a video-message, described as a “dynamic alliance in pursuit of intellectual social responsibility.”

In her keynote address, Cherie Blair, Chancellor of the Asian University for Women, noted that Desmond Tutu had “drawn the inevitable and essential link between education and what the United Nations does---and can and should do. The architecture upon which it is premised---that of peace, development and human rights---can only be sustained by the reach and the yield of education. And that makes the Academic Impact particularly timely, prompting us only to ask--- why it had not been thought of before.”

Mrs. Blair continued that the “quality of refusing to blindly accept any theory or dogma, even if happens to be the only dogma or theory at a given time---is, I would submit, as much at the heart of good education as it is of a successful United Nations. Just as this Organization did not choose to accept the inevitability of apartheid, the inescapability of repression or the invincibility of tyrants, so too must education see in itself as the primary and most enduring source of the change we want to see. In the Archbishop’s phrase, “the proud ideals of the United Nations are equality, dignity and respect for all, a goal that unites us across our great diversity.” It is with pride that I quote that line here, in this convening forum of nations and peoples, and the movement of minds that the United Nations Academic Impact represents.”

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Manjeev Singh Puri recalled his meetings with the Archbishop while serving as Consul-General in Capetown and shared a quotation from Desmond Tutu “When God created man, SHE was still experimenting...”* He noted that the United Nations was the centre of universalism, multilateralism and decision by consultation.

Following the screening of the South African segment of “A Force More Powerful”, Film maker Steve York presented his documentary series, and argued for the power of non-violence providing examples from various parts of the world. A Desmond Tutu quote was chosen for the DVD cover: “When people decide they want to be free… there is nothing that can stop them.”

An interview given by Archbishop Tutu to the UN Chronicle in December 1996 has been reproduced on the UNAI website in honour of the day.

*Archbishop Tutu is said to have used this quote in relation to Leontine Kelly, the first African-American woman to be elected bishop
“It Gets Better: Being Out at Work”|%e2%80%9cit-gets-better-being-out-at-work%e2%80%9d|Fri, 07 Oct 2011 22:26:54 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|The Institute for Global Understanding at Monmouth University is highlighting the October 11 panel discussion “It Gets Better: Being Out at Work” as a fall event as part of their UNAI initiatives.

This discussion will take place on October 11, 2011 – National Coming Out Day – and features panelists from a variety of professions who have “come out” at work and are living productive and happy lives. Panelists include a political activist, an area sales manager from a large mortgage company, a high school guidance counselor, and a local attorney representing a pro-LGBT athlete.

This event contributes to UNAI principle 10 to make “a commitment to promoting inter-cultural dialogue and understanding, and the ‘unlearning’ of intolerance, through education.”

For more information on the event, as well as activities undertaken by Monmouth University, including Project BAM, College Bound, the Macheke Sustainability Project (MSP), and other projects, go to the Institute for Global Understanding website.
CUNY BA Symposium on the Arab Spring|cuny-ba-symposium-on-the-arab-spring|Fri, 07 Oct 2011 22:39:35 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|On 19 October, CUNY Baccalaureate is organizing a symposium on the Arab Spring and the struggle for freedom and democracy in the Middle East. The symposium is a United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) activity.

At the symposium, student panelists will provide first-hand accounts from the protests sweeping the Middle East. The audience will have an opportunity to listen to the voices of young revolutionaries in particular and learn about social media and new technologies instrumental in fomenting the uprisings.

The event will take place on October 19 (6-9pm) at the CUNY Graduate Center (Elebash Recital Hall).

Ahead of the symposium an online discussion has been activated on the Symposium page. You can make comments or ask questions, these will be presented to the panelists on October 19.

For details on the speakers, to register and post comments, go to http://cunyba.gc.cuny.edu/blog/cuny-ba-symposium-on-the-arab-spring/.
UNAI Hub on Education for All organizes English Writing Workshops|unai-hub-on-education-for-all-organizes-english-writing-workshops|Sun, 09 Oct 2011 23:17:23 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|LUMS, the UNAI Hub on Education for All organized on Friday and Saturday 7 and 8 October a two-day essay writing workshop.

With ground and technical support from Rabtt, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) conducted the workshop in a Government Girls Pilot High School, in Wahdat Colony, Lahore.

Close to 400 9th grade female students were taught descriptive and creative writing by LUMS students who volunteered and spent the previous week being trained to become Workshop Teachers.  The goal of the project is manyfold:

  • to inspire students to view English writing as fun (rather than as a task);

  • to inspire confidence in the students and in their own writing abilities;

  • to give useful tips to the students on how to write more creatively (by providing them with new adjectives; by encouraging them to use the five senses to describe events, places and objects; etc...).

As a follow-up to the workshop, on Friday, 14 October, 2011, an essay competition will test the skills the workshop participants have acquired. The Award Ceremony will recognize nine winners. Three renowned LUMS Professors will serve as Judges of the Competition.

Photographs of the Workshop are available on the Rabtt Facebook page

Responsibility and Reciprocity: deadline extended to 15 October for submission of papers|responsibility-and-reciprocity-deadline-extended-to-15-october-for-submission-of-papers|Mon, 10 Oct 2011 15:38:15 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|This 4 and 5 November, the Antonio Meneghetti Faculty is organizing the congress Responsibility and Reciprocity – Social Values for a Sustainable Economy.

The Congress is still open for the free submission of academic articles on subjects related to its thematic lines, which are: (1) Education for a Green Economy and for Sustainable Development; (2) Management and Entrepreneurship in the Third Sector; (3) Science, Technology, Innovation and Society; (4) Millennium Development Goals and Global Compact; and (5) Humanism and Complexity.

Responsibility and Reciprocity is organized as part of the lead up to the Rio+20 Conference, of June 2012. The target audience is academic researchers, professionals and decision-makers working in the areas of responsibility, sustainability, social values and reciprocity.

The Congress will be held on the campus of the Antonio Meneghetti Faculty (www.faculdadeam.edu.br) in the city of Restinga Seca, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. 

Watch the video. To register and for more information
A four-week e-discussion on youth employment started today|a-four-week-e-discussion-on-youth-employment-started-today|Tue, 11 Oct 2011 20:56:35 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|

The United Nations Programme on Youth is partnering with UNAI in organizing a four-week e-discussion on youth employment -from 11 October to 7 November - to contribute directly to the online 2011 World Youth Report.

The e-discussion aims to explore young people’s perspectives of the transition from schools and training institutions into the world of work.

Join the discussion at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/onlinediscussion/

The e-discussion is intended to serve as a forum for young people and youth-led organizations to share their own views, experiences and recommendations on preparing for, entering, and remaining active in the workforce. Each week, a broad theme will be explored in depth from a social lens through diverse views and perspectives.

  • The E‐Discussion is coordinated by the UN Programme on Youth and opened to all young people interested.

  • Participants must introduce themselves when posting using their Name (first name & initial of last name if preferred), Age, Sex, Country, Youth Organisation (if any).

  • Comments in Spanish and French are welcome. A Google translate has been set up on the page.

Weekly themes

Week I: Employment & Youth: the situation of young people in the labour market and key trends (11 -17 October)

Week I aims to broadly explore the situation of young people in the labour market and youth employment trends. It seeks to elicit illustrations of key youth employment-related demographics, and to identify and explore priority youth employment issues and trends in countries across regions and in various stages of development.

Week I will additionally focus on the role of youth participation in forums and policies which address employment issues.

The week’s discussion will give special attention to hearing voices which represent the diversity of young people, particularly youth from marginalized social groups; i.e., youth from rural and urban areas, migrant youth, indigenous youth, youth with disabilities, girls and young women, youth in conflict areas, etc.

Week II: Preparing for Work (18-24 October)

Week II will explore education, as the foundation for working life, with focus on views regarding educational quality and utility. Vocational education, life skills, innovation and entrepreneurship will be highlighted. The discussion will examine what some schools are doing, and what more can be done, to help young people transition to work. It will consider ways for educational systems to be more responsive to the changing needs of economies and societies, and labour markets in particular. It will also look at ways in which young people may hold policymakers and decision-makers accountable for fulfilling the right to quality education.

Week III: Looking for a Job (25-31 October)

Week III will focus on the transition of young people into work, particularly the search for a first job. It will examine the availability among youth of information on labour markets and job seeking, and explore various mechanisms and tools to inform and advise young people, from networking to subsidized employment programmes. The discussion will also address the impacts and risks of youth unemployment. Additionally, it will look into potential emerging areas of opportunity for young people.

The UNAI Hub on Poverty, the University of KwaZulu-Natal will be moderating Week 3 of the e-discussion.

Week IV: Youth at Work (1-7 November)

Week IV will explore the quality and conditions of jobs held by youth, and how young people’s working situation interacts with their family and home lives. It will address high rates among youth of underemployment, participation in the informal economy, vulnerable employment, wages and working conditions. The discussion will also examine how a lack of decent work opportunities can influence family life, social processes such as marriage and fertility, as well as health and well-being. 

Again, to join the discussion all you need to do is to go to the discussion webpage at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/onlinediscussion/

Video Contest and Festival on Sustainable Development opens on 17 October 2011|1158|Thu, 13 Oct 2011 00:23:39 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|The Faculty of Economics, University of Buenos Aires, is developing a learning, creativity and research activity in the context of the UN Academic Impact global initiative, and invites all higher education institutions around the world to participate through the production of videos by students, graduates, professors and their community. Pre-registration starts on Monday 17 October 2011.

A video contest is being launched which will lead to an Educational Video International Festival on the issue of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION.

• Developing creative audiovisual products applying modern information technologies and communications in the process of higher education.

• Achieving universal treatment by ensuring that the selected topics shall be discussed from different value systems and cultures.

• Helping UNAI to have video libraries with high-definition and quality on the study and treatment of Millennium Development Goals and ensuring that they are available to higher education institutions worldwide.

For more information, go to the Contest and Festival website
Design with the Other 90%: CITIES opens on 15 October|design-with-the-other-90-cities-opens-on-15-october|Thu, 13 Oct 2011 16:34:11 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|The Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition opens at the United Nations, in partnership with the UN Academic Impact global initiative, on October 15, 2011 running through January 9, 2012.

(View photos from exhibition in our

The exhibit will feature more than 60 projects, from 22 countries around the globe. Projects and products at every scale will be included, with a focus on designs that are informed by settlement communities: alternative housing design, methods and materials; low-cost clean water; accessible education initiatives; sanitation and solid-waste management; transportation solutions; innovative systems and infrastructure; and urban design and planning.

Organized by Cynthia Smith, curator of socially responsible design, along with a 10 person advisory committee, the exhibition explores the multidisciplinary, overlapping relationships among urban planning and design, education, social entrepreneurship, climate change, sanitation and water, migration, public health and affordable housing in these communities.

Information collected for the exhibition will be made accessible through an online open-network database, which will enable designers, communities and other stakeholders to work together to develop design solutions to these challenges. An educational programme accompanies the exhibition.

Design Solutions for Poverty

Ahead of the official opening on Monday, 17 October, Design Solutions for Poverty tries to respond to the question: How can innovative design solutions address the world's most critical issues such as poverty, climate change and the rapid growth of urban populations?

This special presentation marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The event includes a keynote speech by Professor Sanjay Reddy, Department of Economics at The New School for Social Research, a UNAI member, remarks by Cecilia Martinez, Director of the New York Office, UN-HABITAT, as well as brief presentations by some of the individuals and organizations whose work is featured in the exhibition.

(View the panelists photo during discussion here.)

The Panel Discussion Sustainable and Inclusive Cities: the Right to the City is scheduled for Thursday 17 November, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at UN Headquarters.
Happy UN Day|happy-un-day|Mon, 24 Oct 2011 17:43:38 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|In celebration of United Nations Day, UN staff around the world are visiting high schools to speak about the work of the Organization and establish a dialogue to engage students in global issues.

Through this annual fall outreach programme to mark the UN’s birthday, staff – from junior to the highest level, representing a diverse range of departments, agencies and programmes – will travel to high schools to promote priority issues of the Organization.

In its fourth year, UN4U has undergone changes to increase its visibility, not only among staff members but to its target audience—young people with limited knowledge of what the UN is and does.

This year the UN4U campaign was extended to the last two weeks in October to accommodate more speakers and schools.

In his message for the day, which marks the anniversary of the day the Organization was founded 66 years ago, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated: “Global problems demand global solutions. They compel all nations to unite in action on an agenda for the world’s people. That is the very mission of the United Nations... In these turbulent times, there is only one answer – unity of purpose... In our increasingly interconnected world, we all have something to give and something to gain by working together. Let us unite, seven billion strong, in the name of the global common good.”

The Secretary-General also visited a school as part of the UN4U Programme. He told students at the New Explorations into Science, Mathematics and Technology School (NEST) in New York:

“Despite all of our challenges, I have hope. Because there is one resource that can overcome all of these problems. I am not talking about a super variety of rice to feed the planet… or a magic cure to all diseases… or a great business idea to end global poverty. I am talking about the living resource that fills this room: You. You who know that children do not need to die from hunger… that mothers do not need to die from childbirth… that families do not need to suffer. Because we know how to help them. The UN is 4 U – and you can be 4 the UN. Let us make this not just a world of seven billion. Let us make this a world of seven billion strong.”

Looking for a Job Week 3 of the Youth Employment e-discussion just started|looking-for-a-job-week-3-of-the-youth-employment-e-discussion-just-started|Tue, 25 Oct 2011 15:41:17 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|‎Looking for a Job, Week 3 of the Youth Employment e-discussion just started. It is moderated by Julian May and Kathleen Diga, of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the UNAI Poverty Hub.

They want to hear from you about your experiences searching for a job: what has worked? How is the current environment in your country affecting your job search? How can we support each other in staying motivated?

To participate in the discussion, go to:

Read Julian and Katheen's welcome message below:

Welcome to the third week of our e-discussion on youth employment!  Over the last two weeks, we have sought to understand the current job situation and trends, as well as the educational and training needs of young people hoping to join the labour market.  

This week we will be discussing and debating the “who, what, where, why and when” of: looking for a job! We look forward to sharing in your experiences of having tried to find a job, securing your existing job, or preparing to apply for your first job.

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” - T.S. Eliot. This quote reminds us of some of the challenges of searching for a job. Here in South Africa, we are acutely aware of the difficulties of looking for a job. In February 2011, the South African Institute of Race Relations found that 51% of young people between ages 15 and 24 are unemployed. And the recent ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 update shows that there are growing numbers of youth in sub-Saharan Africa who are underemployed and increasingly frustrated.

We want to hear from you about your experiences searching for a job: what has worked? How is the current environment in your country affecting your job search? How can we support each other in staying motivated? To contribute, go to the bottom of this page, and type in the “Post a comment” box; you can also click on the “Reply” button to respond to existing posts. 

Don’t forget that your voice may contribute to the third chapter of the forthcoming online 2011 World Youth Report. So, please indicate in each post the question number you are addressing, your name (first name and initial of last name), age, gender, where you come from and your organization (if any). 

Lastly we thank the United Nations Programme on Youth and United Nations Academic Impact for having us involved! Many thanks! Julian, Kathleen and UKZN team.
Sustainable and Inclusive Cities: The Right to the City|sustainable-and-inclusive-cities-the-right-to-the-city|Tue, 25 Oct 2011 23:37:30 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|As part of the educational programme developed around the exhibition Design With the Other 90%: Cities, a Panel Discussion is scheduled for 17 November, Sustainable and Inclusive Cities: the Right to the City.

Following an introduction by Curator Cynthia Smith, the panelists, from various backgrounds, will focus on issues such as urban development policies, legislation, human rights, housing and urban planning, design, and technological innovation.

The event is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  

More details will be posted as they become available.

Visit the Exhibition site at http://designother90.org/cities/home
UNAI Hub on Sustainability celebrated UN Day|unai-hub-on-sustainability-celebrated-un-day|Thu, 27 Oct 2011 00:34:50 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|

On 24 October, to mark UN Day, the UNAI Hub on Sustainability, the Black Sea University Network, organized a Seminar at Ovidius University, Costantza.

The Seminar focused on Technologies for Biomass and Biogas Processing for Sustainable Energy Solutions.

Lecturers included representatives from various research institutions in Romania and in Italy and the Netherlands.

For more information, go to the UNAI Sustainability portal: www.unai-sustainability.org
The Black Sea is a Treasure: Do we Deserve It?|the-black-sea-is-a-treasure-do-we-deserve-it|Thu, 27 Oct 2011 00:48:37 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|

On 28 October, the ASPIRE Group for the Black Sea Region is organizing an event dedicated to the International Black Sea Day: The Black Sea Is A Treasure: Do We Deserve It?

The event will take place at Ovidius University, Costantza, Romania, and is organized in collaboration with the Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon, Turkey; the Technical University of Varna, Bulgaria; and the Sevastopol   National Technical University, Ukraine.

The aim is to evaluate the current status of the Black Sea and to identify opportunities for students actions for preserving the marine environment and sustainable development of the Black Sea and the Black Sea riparian countries.

More information on the Sustainability Hub portal at www.unai-sustainability.org
UNAI Lecture Human Rights: Impact of Armed Conflict on Children|unai-lecture-human-rights-impact-of-armed-conflict-on-children|Thu, 27 Oct 2011 15:00:06 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|

The Institute for Global Understanding at Monmouth University is organizing the first in the United Nations Academic Impact Lecture Series.

On 2 November, Under-Secretary-General Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, will address the issue Human Rights: Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

The Lecture is scheduled for Wednesday, November 2, 2011, from 10:00 to 11:15 am, Wilson Auditorium, Wilson Hall. The event is free and open to the public. Classes are welcome.

About USG Coomaraswamy and the Office

Radhika Coomaraswamy was appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict in April 2006. She was reappointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in February 2007. In this capacity, she serves as a moral voice and independent advocate to build awareness and give prominence to the rights and protection of boys and girls affected by armed conflict. Ms. Coomaraswamy, a lawyer by training and formerly the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, is an internationally known human rights advocate who has done outstanding work as Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (1994-2003).

The Mission Statement of the Office of the Special Representative is: To promote and protect the rights of all children affected by armed conflict

  • The Special Representative serves as a moral voice and independent advocate for the protection and well-being of boys and girls affected by armed conflict.

  • The Special Representative works with partners to propose ideas and approaches to enhance the protection of children and armed conflict and to promote a more concerted protection response.

  • The Special Representative and her Office advocate, build awareness and give prominence to the rights and protection of children and armed conflict.

  • The Special Representative is a facilitator, undertaking humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives to facilitate the work of operational actors on the ground with regard to children and armed conflict.

About the Institute for Global Understanding

The mission of the Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) is to promote awareness of issues and challenges of our dynamic, interdependent world.

Through academic programs, field experiences, service learning, and engagement in local and global communities, IGU fulfills Monmouth University’s broad mission of promoting global understanding, diversity, and leadership.

UNAI Japan portal is launched|unai-japan-portal-is-launched|Fri, 28 Oct 2011 17:11:07 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|On 20 October, the UNAI-Japan portal site

There are now 10 UNAI members in Japan:

  • Chuo University

  • Ehime University

  • Graduate Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies

  • J.F. Oberlin University

  • Kwansei Gakuin University

  • Kyushu University

  • Meiji University

  • Osaka University of Commerce

  • Tohoku University

  • Waseda University

Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka sent a welcome message:



それならば、世界の多くの大学と国連(および多くのその関連機関)が、簡単に、しかも緊密に協力できるネットワークを作ることによって、情報を交換し、よりよい経験からお互いに学びあい、そして一段と効果的なプログラム作りに励んではどうか - こうした考えこそが、パン・ギムン国連事務総長の指導力の下で、国連広報局がアカデミック・インパクトを始めるきっかけでした。

Read the full message at:
UNAI at European Association of Conservatories Congress|unai-at-european-association-of-conservatories-congress|Thu, 10 Nov 2011 20:32:43 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Kiyo Akasaka, presented UNAI to the Annual Congress of the European Association of Conservatories, 10 November 2011, Valencia, Spain.

Almost one year following the UNAI Launch Concert, USG Akasaka was invited to address the 2011 Congress of the Association of European Conservatories.

Under the theme “The Musician in Society: Future Challenges”, the Congress addresses this year such issues as Why Democracy Needs Musicians, Making Music a Vital Part of Education, or Musicians and Conflict Resolution.

In his remarks during the opening session, USG Akasaka stated: When we go beyond the conduct and regulation of inter-State relations to the lives of the children, women and men who live within them, we find ourselves in desperate need of intellectual inputs for our vast agenda to save them from the miseries of this world and enhance the quality of their lives.  It was this realisation that led to our creating the United Nations Academic Impact - a global alliance of institutions of higher education and research that today number almost 750 in 110 countries. We saw in the strength and capacity of the individual and collective human intellect the means to address the very real problems real people face in a manner more direct and more immediate than governmental, or inter-governmental, declarations alone.

What was heartening in the response was how many institutions and faculties committed to the creative arts joined our initiative, affirming the truth that the true quality of life must allow itself to be enhanced by the beauty of music, of art, of literature among others. This is not about luxury or about class or about the circumstances of life and living.

Read full speech.
UNAI Anniversary Week!|unai-anniversary-week|Mon, 14 Nov 2011 15:13:18 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|This coming Friday, 18 November marks the 1st anniversary of UNAI.

UNAI is one year old!

To celebrate the first anniversary of its launch this week, the UN Academic Impact (UNAI) has lined up a series of events at UN Headquarters and other venues, ranging from a workshop on sustainable development, a concert, a lecture on jazz, and a panel discussion on the right to the city.

It was on 18 November 2010, that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially launched the UNAI initiative and opened the UN doors to new partners: the academic community and institutions of higher education.

Last August, the Secretary-General commented “The initiative has grown very encouragingly. What started with a few schools and the simple wish to harness academia’s great power for the common good, has become a global enterprise.” At one year old, the initiative is 750 member-strong, with institutions in 110 countries, with Museu Picasso Barcelona, as one of the latest members.
On Tuesday 15 November, in her opening remarks at the “Education and Governance for Sustainable Development” Workshop, Romanian Ambassador Ms. Simona Miculescu complimented UNAI for having “compiled a record of engagement… Chapeau bas!”

Organized by the UNAI Hub on Sustainability, the Black Sea University Network, the two-day workshop brought to UN Headquarters rectors and senior representatives from universities in Albania, Azerbaijan, Greece, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Eleven sustainable development projects were presented to UN officials during the plenary session on Tuesday 15 November. On Wednesday 16 November, individual meetings were arranged for the rectors to meet with the UN experts to further discuss the projects, which included the development of master courses, open learning courses, or knowledge networks on sustainable development, water resources, transport and logistics, the green economy.

“Sustainable and inclusive cities: the right to the city” is scheduled for Thursday 17 November. UN Assistant Secretary-General Michael Adlerstein will deliver opening remarks. “The right to the city” panelists will include: UN-Habitat New York Office Director, Cecilia Martinez; Professor Michael Cohen, from UNAI Member, The New School; Chelina Odbert, from the Kibera Public Space Project, Nairobi, Kenya; Vanessa Padia de Souza, Secretariat for Housing, Municipality of Sao Paulo (SEHAB). Urban Mining project, Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Eden Mamut, Director, Black Sea University Network.

The panel discussion is organized as one of the educational programmes developed to accompany the Design With the Other 90% Cities exhibition on display in the Visitors Lobby at UN Headquarters through 9 January 2012. Cynthia Smith, curator for socially responsible design at UNAI member Cooper-Hewitt, the National Design Museum, worked for two years on the exhibition which presents over 60 socially responsible design projects from 23 countries. For those who cannot visit the exhibition an extensive website has been developed which documents each project, with a wealth of multimedia materials: http://designother90.org/cities/home.

A concert will conclude the week-long programme of events, United Academia. The concert is sponsored by UNAI member the Puglia Center of America, and will take place at the Performing Arts Center, Recital Hall, Purchase College, also a UNAI member. The programme includes the Purchase Symphony Orchestra; Tenor Soloist Luciano Lamonarca; and Jazz Duo Sy Johnson and Mike Richmond, who will also speak before the concert during the Jazz Life lecture. It is expected that at the end of the concert, a proclamation by Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino will be presented to UNAI declaring November 18, 2011 United Nations Impact Day in Westchester County.
Urban Youth Crime and Violence: Can it be prevented?|1311|Mon, 21 Nov 2011 19:20:46 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UN Information Service in Vienna, UNAI Member, the University of Vienna, and UNAI Partner ACUNS are joining forces to organize a webinar: Urban Youth Crime and Violence: Can it be prevented? on Tuesday 22 November, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm CET.

The last two decades have seen dramatic changes on the global urban security scene. The recent events in Great Britain are an illustration of phenomena of social unrest through youth crime and violence, more common place nowadays in the developing and developed world.

Eminent international crime prevention academics and experts from the UNODC will speak about global and local problems in countering urban youth crime and violence, followed by two Q&A sessions.

The Webinar will take place Tuesday, November 22, 15.30 - 17.30 (CET; GMT+1) on . Please register for the webinar by sending an e-mail at , with register in the subject line. All are welcome to send questions in advance at e-lecture@unodc.org
Help Celebrate Human Rights!!!|help-celebrate-human-rights|Thu, 01 Dec 2011 00:50:07 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|2011 has been a remarkable year for human rights activism and there is much to celebrate. It was a year when thousands of people found their voice, demanded their basic rights and achieved social change. It could have been me, you or any of our social media friends. You can get involved and help celebrate human rights!

We have seen the power of social media when used to inform and mobilize supporters. We seek to build on that momentum for change through a social media campaign to encourage young people to get involved in the global human rights movement.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is asking for everyone's help to celebrate this remarkable year. You can:

  • Blog, tweet or otherwise spread the word about the “Celebrate Human Rights” campaign

  • Post the “Celebrate Human Rights” logo or badge on your Facebook and other social media channels  (go to

    Dr. Datta spent the last ten years promoting global understanding as Director of IGU, but also through academic programs, field experiences and service learning.  Experiential Education she says “comes through a holistic experience, integrating experiential education, volunteerism, and civic engagement on campus, and in the local and global communities.”

    The mission of IGU is to promote awareness on issues and challenges of our dynamic, interdependent world, through academic programs, field experiences, service learning, and engagement in local and global communities. IGU is a UN DPI affiliated NGO and a member of the United Nations Academic Impact initiative (UNAI). Consistent with its mission, IGU seeks to promote awareness of global issues by aligning projects with the UNAI principles.  At the institute, Dr. Datta began two programs through which MU students volunteer to mentor students from area high schools. According to Provost Pearson of the University, IGU has been very instrumental and successful in guiding the university in the hire and development of faculty, shaping curricular reform, bringing some of the most distinguished speakers and public servants on campus, generating myriad cultural opportunities and social experiences, and creating valuable service learning opportunities for Monmouth students at the United Nations and throughout the world.

    The award was presented to Dr. Datta at a luncheon at the NSEE Annual Conference to be held in Dallas, Texas on October 21, 2011.  Speaking about the Award, Dr. Datta said that she considered it an affirmation to experiential education, service learning, and volunteer service programs at Monmouth University, and to all faculty, students and employees who give meaning to student engagement and service learning through their hard work and dedication.  According to Dr. Datta, it is by sharing and understanding others that we find our happiness.
    ASPIRE Group to be featured in Half the Sky documentary|aspire-group-to-be-featured-in-half-the-sky-documentary|Mon, 12 Dec 2011 17:58:08 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|UNAI ASPIRE Group of East Stroudsburg South High School organized a roundtable to incorporate UNAI principles into an educational equity curriculum for students around Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Their project is completely student driven from development, writing, and implementation.

    Students had read copies of the book during a bus trip to attend a UNAI event at UN Headquarters. Inspired by their UNAI trip, the students wrote the publisher and the publisher in turn contacted their teacher, Michael Healey. The ASPIRE Group has been invited to be featured in the Half the Sky documentary, the book's adaptation.

    Below is an account sent by Michael Healey


    Aalih Hussein, Guyanese-American and Aiza Khawaja , Pakistani-American are founding members of the UNAI Aspire group of East Stroudsburg South HS.  They are current students at UNAI member institution East Stroudsburg University. In anticipation of our bus trip to the United Nations in New York City on November 17, I purchased 5 copies of Half the Sky and distributed it to several students to read on the bus ride. When they were finished, they passed the book on to other group members. Dialogue among the students caught on like wildfire.  Aalih and Aiza approached me and proposed a roundtable. Aalih and Aiza were so moved by the message of Half the Sky, they immediately sought ways to integrate this powerful book into the curriculum of our UNAI Aspire Group through the 10 UNAI Principles.  They collaborated on forming a roundtable discussion of Half the Sky with our high school student group. They were behind every aspect of its development, presentation, discussion, and follow up. 

    Nicholas Kristof is a New York Times Journalist who travels to the planet’s saddest places.  Kristof writes personal stories of people living in these forgotten places which are published in the New York Times. Kristof brings awareness while reminding readers that basic human rights are necessary for all people to thrive and succeed.  Half the Sky is a powerful piece of non-fiction which delivers often times shocking stories of regular people surviving through extraordinary circumstances who accomplish incredible things through their resiliency.


     On the day of the event, Aalih, Aiza, and their friend Atiba Khan, Pakistani-American, East Stroudsburg University, arrived at South High School and began the roundtable discussion.  Our student demographics are male and female, Muslim and Christian, English as a second language, and the majority are first generation Americans with roots in Ghana, Poland, Haiti, Colombia, Jamaica, Pakistan, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador. We put our desks in a circle to encourage participation and recognition of the equality of all opinions and voices. 


     This highly diverse group unites around the pursuit of attaining the 10 UNAI Principles. We see our diversity and differences as gifts to share with one another and bridge gaps through communication. As a UNAI Aspire student group, we pursue engagement of the United Nations Academic Impact principles.  In this event, the principle was “A commitment to encouraging global citizenship through education”.

    Our students were engaged, enthusiastic, and enlightened by the roundtable.  We are looking forward to continued engagement with Half the Sky and were contacted by the production company of the PBS documentary adaptation of the book, including a discussion with Sheryl WuDunn.

    They are currently meeting off campus for coffee to discuss ways to build Half the Sky into our UNAI curriculum, emailing back and forth to one another, and emailing charities, authors, and journalists for more information.  A proposal just arrived in my inbox as I type, about a Henna party with booths set up highlighting the many charities and women’s organizations of Half the Sky.  The development of these diverse young people through the UNAI Principles and Half the Sky is inspiring.

    These young people of UNAI Aspire South and East Stroudsburg University are global citizens who are collaborating across cultures to pursue social justice.  They are ambassadors of their culture who bring the world into the classrooms of East Stroudsburg South High School.  They are the 10 principles of UNAI in action.



    Michael Healey

    UNAI Aspire South

    East Stroudsburg South High School 

    Celebrating Oscar Niemeyer on his 104th birthday|celebrating-oscar-niemeyer-on-his-104th-birthday|Tue, 13 Dec 2011 20:04:15 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|

    To celebrate the 104th birthday of architect Oscar Niemeyer, one of the original designers of United Nations Headquarters, a panel discussion is organized on Thursday 15 December, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

    Panellists will discuss the changing face of New York architecture in the last sixty years; specifically, the intended meaning, and the public's interaction with buildings such as the UN.

    Panellists include:

    • Anthony Cohn, EYP, Architecture & Engineering

    • Barry Lewis, Architectural Historian

    • Cesar Pelli, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Inc.

    The event will be webcast and can be watched live at http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/

    The panel discussion is organized in the context of the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition prepared by Cooper-Hewitt, the National Design Museum. CITIES is on display at UN Headquarters from 15 October 2011 to 9 January 2012.

    New Year Day this year has had special meaning|1349|Fri, 06 Jan 2012 19:40:04 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|New Year Day this year has had special meaning, marking 70 years since the first use of the phrase United Nations in a declaration signed on January 1, 1942---the Declaration by the United Nations, signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Poland, South Africa, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yugoslavia.

    In its assertion of the necessity to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands the Declaration may well have anticipated a later doctrine---the tenth anniversary of whose articulation we also observe this month---that of the responsibility to protect.

    But wait...there's another anniversary still; this year marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the publication of  Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage in which the narrator shares his thoughts, trials and travels over four fairly long segments. And it is within them that we first stumble upon a plural noun and its defining adjective which have today joined into a single singular

    “Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
    Their children’s lips shall echo them, and say
    ’Here, where the sword united nations drew
    Our countrymen were warring on that day...

    For us, at the United Nations Academic Impact, this is the start of our second full year---where the sword of scholarship, action and reason, which more than seven hundred institutions have already unsheathed, shall engage still more vigorously in our common war against ignorance, deprivation and denial.

    Thank you for being with us!