17 May 2018

St. Mary's University hosted discussion to explain how the UN connects with academia

United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) member institution St. Mary's University hosted an event last month to discuss interactions between the United Nations and institutions of higher education. This article features highlights of the event as reported by Hannah Odom, a student at St. Mary’s University.

17 May 2018 - On 3 April 2018, Greehey School of Business of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) member institution St. Mary’s University of San Antonio (United States), hosted an interactive lecture series about the relationship between the United Nations and institutions of higher education.

The first speaker, Ramu Damodaran, Chief of UNAI, gave an enlightening lecture providing many insights regarding the involvement of the United Nations at the collegiate level, from internships at the United Nations to post-graduate opportunities abroad. Thereby, he emphasized the importance of thinking globally and acting locally. He also spoke on the current major issues being addressed by the United Nations, and explained how local action can have a global impact.

Noting the combined power and global reach of universities across the globe, Damodaran expressed his confidence in institutions of higher education and their potential to change the world.

The second keynote speaker, Bill Hunter of Fellowship Advising and United Nations Programs at Lehigh University, gave a speech explaining how the institution he represents began a cooperative relationship with the United Nations. He talked about low-cost alternatives for students interested in the work of the United Nations.

Such alternatives, he said, include remote internships, semester-long innovation projects and teleconferences. These opportunities emphasized the message that students can carry out the mission of the United Nations on a local level. Furthermore, Hunter discussed his research on global competency and the need for certain skills as a college graduate in order to effectively interact and build relationships with people around the world.

Overall, this lecture series presented an excellent opportunity to St. Mary’s students to learn about the United Nations and UNAI in particular, and also to explore forms of involvement. As the world continues to become more connected and interdependent, it is crucial that institutions of higher education promote global competency and provide a globalized education. A learning environment that fosters a sense of global awareness not only prepares students to enter the workforce, but also cultivates a sense of responsibility among the students that can empower them to change the world.