From the 1st to 10th of February in 2022 the Social Engagement Program “United Nations: Role & Functions (Intensive Course at the UN Headquarters in N.Y.)” was held online for the first time. This program started in 2014 and had taken place annually in February at the UN Headquarters in New York until 2019 when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred.
The aim of this program is to acquire knowledge about the role and functions of the United Nations from lectures by current and former members of the UN organizations, and to deepen understanding of the issues international society confronts. Taking advantage of the online format, the participants were fortunate enough to be given briefings by the professionals who reside in 7 different countries: New York (U.S.A.), Vienna (Austria), Hanoi (Vietnam), Dili (East Timor), Paris (France), Naqoura (Lebanon), and Tokyo (Japan) .
Fourteen participants, from first-year undergraduate students to graduate students, attended the pre-lectures of the program by Professor Ueki Yasuhiro in Graduate School of Global Studies held last November. Students first participated in a virtual tour of the United Nations which offered them information about the organizational structure of the UN Headquarters, the architectural elements, and the gifts from the member states. The sessions covered a range of topics from climate change to development, disarmament, education, gender, refugees, SDGs, and PKO, all of which interested the participants. Also, some career-related information such as of internships and the JPO system were provided. During a review session on the final day of the program, each group gave a presentation on what they had learned.
The feedback from the participants was very positive: “It was interesting to learn about both the work at the Headquarters of the United Nations and what is happening in the fields”, “Briefings of the staff motivated me to spend my time effectively”, “I’m so glad that I decided to attend this program in the middle of restriction of my activities due to the coronavirus.” The program was a great success with the participants being inspired by the professionals who play active roles in various parts of the world while enjoying the benefits of an online format.