UN Course, Seeing Much and Studying Much

Suhyeon Lee is a MAIR student who does a great deal to maintain this blog. She decided to try her hand at drafting an article about the course, UN Organizations-Managing for Change taught by Professor Catherine Bertini. This is an intensive one-week course taught in New York City with multiple visits to United Nations Headquarters.

This UN course was an opportunity for my classmates and I to obtain valuable learning by seeing much and studying much. This course was not just a normal class, but a special one in that it consisted of a variety of activities including lectures, speeches, a UN trip, and networking, all of which is not easily combined. If there is anyone who is looking for courses during the Winter Session, I would definitely recommend this one for you.

As we walked into the classroom on the first day, we were delighted to see that it was a big class setting where we each could work on our own personal computer. As Prof. Bertini began to go over class procedures, we were excited to learn about United Nations’ organizations in upcoming classes, which made the room filled with passion and excitement.

For five days, we learned the operations and processes for change in several United Nations’ organizations mainly focusing on the Security Council, UN Secretariat, and World Food Programme. This course began with a brief summary of each organization, including their purposes, funding systems, and governance structures, intertwined with speeches of guest speakers who have vast experience in their field. In addition, we had an opportunity to learn culture and representational issues of the United Nations organizations where efforts at future improvement must be made.

One of the great advantages of taking the UN course was listening to the speeches of guest speakers. On the second day of the UN course, my classmates and I had the honor to have the Former Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, as a speaker. She talked about leadership strategy–one important skill that MAIR students have to be equipped with–and her achievements at UNICEF. It was a thrilling and memorable moment, and we felt so blessed to learn a lot from her.

Former Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, and Prof. Bertni giving a speech in the Fisher Center in New York City. It was an overwhelming moment for all students who took the UN course.
Former Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, and Prof. Bertini giving a speech in the Fisher Center in New York City. It was an overwhelming moment for all students who took the UN course.

For the last two days, we went on a trip to the UN to get an idea of how the UN works and met prominent people who were working to make the world a better place. On the first day of the UN trip, we headed to the Public Chamber under the supervision of a security guard to learn operations and the processes of the Security Council. When we arrived at the public chamber, the representatives of Congo were on the screen and the members of the Security Council, ambassadors, and a few people were seated. The president of the Security Council was in the center, and the discussion started with his remarks. Looking at this scene made being at the UN even more real.

During the afternoon, the Director of the Secretary General visited the conference room where we stayed. We learned the operations and processes of the Security Council in more detail and representational issues of the Security Council such as the number of permanent members and non-permanent members.

The most impressive part of the second UN visit was meeting with Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson. He put emphasis on a few ideas while speaking. First, he valued human rights. He said that we should not forget human rights and that human rights violations are a sign of danger. When he said these words, we strongly agreed with his ideas, and we were pleased with the fact that the world has Jan Eliasson as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Second, he talked about diversity. He said that the world together is the most important thing. There are a lot of criticism in regards to migrants and refugees, especially now days when terrorism by ISIS threatens the world. However, we had a lesson from him that we should not forget that each country is one part of the world.

This course helped students prepare for working at international organizations by attending a lecture of operations and processes of the United Nations organization. This was a positive experience where we gained valuable information and skills. I am grateful for taking this course and all I learned from it. I will definitely be able to implement the information and skills I learned in this class in the future.

Prof. Bertini and the UN course

The UN course was taught by Prof. Catherine Bertini. She is currently a Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, and was the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program from 1992 to 2002. All courses she teaches are drawn by the vast experience she gained during a career spanning public service at international, national, state, and local levels, and private sector and foundation experience. The UN course is one of a number of courses that she teaches. This course originally was held at Syracuse University, but with the help of a few people including Prof. Bertini and Syracuse University, the location was moved from Syracuse to New York City two years ago.

Maxwell students of Syracuse University and Prof. Bertini (center, blue jacket & UN badge) in front of a wall painting in the Public Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York City. Suhyeon Lee far right.
Maxwell students of Syracuse University and Prof. Bertini (center, blue jacket & UN badge) in front of the mural in the Public Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York City. Suhyeon Lee far right.