Emmanuel Students Visit the UN
November 18, 2009
Fifteen students from the course, "The Sociology of Globalization," which studies international institutions such as the United Nations (UN), traveled to New York City to visit the UN on November 5th. The group stayed overnight at the International Youth Hostel in Manhattan and toured the headquarters the following morning along with Assistant Professor of Sociology Katrin Križ. Students also met with Sister Joan Burke, SND, who has represented the Sisters of Notre Dame at the United Nations for the past eight years.
The tour gave students the opportunity to see and learn about the work of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council. Students also walked through the UN Millennium Development Goals hallway, which informs visitors of the eight development goals supported by the United Nations. These goals, which students had discussed in class before the trip, include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, and the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Students especially appreciated a presentation by Sister Joan on the role of the UN in social development. They engaged in a lively dialogue with her about the involvement of organizations such as the Sisters of Notre Dame, which is recognized by the UN as an accredited non-governmental organization (NGO).
"She explained how, as a representative, she consults with the UN about different issues affecting all of humanity," said Susanna Derby '10. "She also talked about the difficulties of being an international civil servant and how hard it can be to promote change in our current world political systems."
"It was very interesting and informative," said Nicholas Viau '10 of the discussion with Sister Joan. "It gave me a deeper understanding about the problems NGOs face in influencing UN policy and procedure."
Sister Joan also provided an insider's assessment of a recent General Assembly resolution taken after a high-level conference on the world financial crisis in New York in June 2009. In "The Sociology of Globalization" course, students discuss the importance of this document, which urges member states of the global North to rebuild the global financial infrastructure and to provide real social development opportunities for countries in the global South in the future.
"This was an invaluable opportunity as we were able to [discuss with her] the inner workings of the United Nations and how the ideals and values of our college and community are represented at this vastly influential organization," said Marissa Keegan '10. "It was very refreshing to know that the school that I call home and where I have studied long and hard for four years is represented in some way in the global arena."
Sister Joan concluded her presentation by encouraging students to be active global citizens who urge the United States government to work on behalf of the disadvantaged and for those who currently do not have a voice.
"Overall, it was a wonderful experience," said Alessandro Magno '10 of the visit to UN headquarters. "I certainly hope that this trip will continue to be available to Emmanuel students in upcoming years."
"It was the best educational experience as a faculty member that I've ever had," added Professor Križ.