Students tour the United Nations in NYC

The Center for International Education and Global Studies hosted a cultural trip to the United Nations in New York City on Oct. 18. The trip was led by three professors, the Director of the International and Global Studies department, Dr. Nathan Carpenter, Geography Professor Anita Forrester, and Professor of Global Studies Dr. Piro Rexhepi.

In the morning the students went on a guided tour of the UN Headquarters getting an inside look at the chambers where delegates from around the world gather to hold major debates, including the General Assembly and the Security Council. The UN was founded in 1945 to unite our war-torn world. Today it is made up of 193 Member States. More information can be found at www.un.org

Students had an opportunity to explore the grounds where there are statues representing peace and social justice as well as murals portraying the 17 UN Sustainability Goals. These goals are

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Well-being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  10. Reducing Inequality
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life On Land
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships for the Goals

In the main lobby, an exhibit called “MIND THE EARTH” was on display. The exhibit featured satellite imagery of the Earth focusing on the drastic impact that human beings have caused in dramatically transforming the terrain. The images show fracturing wells, deforestation, palm oil plantations, major cities and roadways, and many other kinds of altered landscapes.

According to the website www.mindtheearth.org, “The primary focus of the exhibit is to increase awareness about the challenges the world is facing in terms of climate change, population growth and urbanization. The mission of MIND THE EARTH is to accelerate  the necessary transformation of the way we manage the finite resources of our planet.”

E.U. Delegate Helge Zeitler explains what it is like to work for the United Nations.

The students met with climate expert and E.U. Delegate Helge Zeitler. Her work focuses on climate policy. She explained that addressing climate change is a high priority among world leaders but unfortunately reaching a consensus on how to act is hard to achieve.

“One country cannot lead the charge alone,” Zeitler said. “In the past, the U.S. has been like-minded (with the E.U.) however, this administration has changed direction.”

Next year, member countries of the UN need to submit ambitious revised agendas on how they will act on climate change in order to meet the Paris Agreement. But member states are split on the issue and individual interests complicate matters. Zeitler said, “The typical battlefield,” during the debate process is between “oil-producing countries versus the IPCC report.”

The U.S. has pulled out of the Paris Agreement and as a member of the Security Council, they are able to veto any policies they choose which can stall progress and lead to heated arguments and time-consuming negotiations.

Later in the afternoon, students hurried across town to meet Community Relations Officer, Milagros Cruz at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Headquarters. It is one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. with 25 offices throughout the country. The IRC is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that responds to international humanitarian crises, providing relief and aid to people afflicted by disaster and conflict. Visit rescue.org to learn more about their work.

The Cultural Trip was the first of a new series offered at NCC. Each visit to New York City will have a different agenda and itinerary. The next trip is scheduled for November 16. Students will have an academic tour of Grand Central Station, an unguided tour of the UN, and free time to explore, where they can choose to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and Central Park.

For more information please contact the Program Coordinators, Lori Boucher lboucher@nullnorthampton.edu or Brandon Andrews bandrews@nullnorthampton.edu