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2015-2016 Annual Report

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, which imbued the center with a new urgency in building our presence and partnerships.

Focusing on building a digital presence has been a top priority of the Center. The main Center webpage is constantly being updated through contributions to the center blog, and updated tweets from the center twitter account (@SHU_UN_Studies). Comparisons between our first year and this year show some impressive growth in the reach of the blog and the twitter account. Two years ago, we reported visits to the Center blog page from 25 states and Washington, D.C., and a total of 60 countries. This year, the website analytics report visits from every state in the union (including Washington, D.C.) and by visitors from over 165 countries. Less than 45% of the site visits are from the US, demonstrating that this project has reach well outside of South Orange.

Another element of our digital presence is the Center twitter account (@SHU_UN_Studies), which currently has over 1300 followers. This includes traditional school partners, staff from UN offices and country missions, dozens of civil society organizations, and several peer institutions. This account is operated by Professor Edwards.

Attracting site visits requires generating content. Over the past year, we have added 46 posts to the blog. Two years ago, half of the posts were written by Center faculty members, and the other half were contributed by guests. A key goal was to shift this balance toward more student and alumni content, and we’ve been very successful on this front. Only 26% of the blogposts this year (N=12) were written by Professor Edwards, and the rest were contributed by guests solicited by Professor Edwards working in close cooperation with the student authors. These include 2 columns written by Diplomacy alums, 3 columns written by Diplomacy graduate students, 12 columns written by Diplomacy undergraduate students, and 17 written by our School UN Youth Representatives.

Our priority this year was to strengthen partnerships and presence. We did this in a variety of ways:

  • New relationships were formed with UN Academic Impact, which is the UN’s vehicle for engagement with universities. UNAI helped the school to publicize our SDG Scholarship Challenge.
  • School partnerships with UNA-USA, ECOSOC, UNA-DR, ACUNS, and DPI/NGO were strengthened through our programmatic work.
    • For the second year in a row, Center faculty chaperoned a student trip to the UN for the UNA-USA annual meeting, and a Diplomacy undergrad gave an address to the assembly describing the work of the chapter and the center over the past year
      • Our campus chapter of UNA-USA was recognized at their annual meeting with the receipt of the Campus Chapter Excellence Award.
      • UNA-USA contributed to judging entries in our SDG Scholarship Challenge
    • The Dean’s Office was invited by the UN Economic and Social Council to send student representatives to the ECOSOC Youth Policy Forum.
    • Professor Edwards worked with UNA-DR, contributing a talk on the role of Academia in strengthening the Post-2015 agenda at a UN meeting last summer.
    • Our partnership with ACUNS was strengthened as well
      • Both Professor Edwards and Center fellow Hugh Dugan contributed podcasts (Edwards on the UN certificate, and Dugan on the Secretary General selection process)
      • Diplomacy made major contributions to the annual meeting, as both Professors Edwards and Bartoli presented in the plenary meetings.
    • Our partnership with DPI/NGO was strengthened on several fronts:
      • Professors Edwards and Smith contributed to the Higher Ed Working Group’s first ever UN conference in October, which brought over 100 faculty members from the tri-state area to New York.
      • Professor Muzas worked with Diplomacy students on putting together the conference schedule for the DPI/NGO annual meeting in Korea, and two different Diplomacy groups of students and faculty contributed workshop presentations.
    • Professors Edwards, Bartoli, and Smith all contributed to discussions by the Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance, which was developed by the Hague Institute and the Stimson Institute.
    • Professors Catherine Tinker and Hugh Dugan were also named as Center fellows.

The main efforts over the past year have been in developing a new series of events on campus that are more collaborative and build on our outreach focus. These include the following:

  • In September, we hosted a watch party for Pope Francis’ address to the UN General Assembly, which was the only event on campus that marked the Pope’s visit. Professors Dugan, Muzas, and Smith provided commentary on the address, which was attended by 50 students and members of the UNA-Northern New Jersey chapter, and also featured media coverage on two different local television stations.
  • In October, Professor Edwards contributed to the University Library initiative for World Statistics Day in collaboration with the Mathematics, Political Science, and Psychology departments. Edwards presented some of the publicly available data from the Post-2015 process on the civil society inputs to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • In October, the main event for United Nations Day (10/24) was a campus wide Teach-In on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This event featured background talks by Professor Edwards, and breakout sessions on the goals led by Catherine Tinker and Joseph O’Mahoney (DIPL), James Daly (Education), and Nalin Johri (SHMS). The event closed with a call for advocacy led by Allyson Neel (UN Foundation) and was attended by 88 SHU students and two groups of high school students from Queen of Peace and Cranford.
  • In November, we hosted a webinar with UNDP’s Independent Evaluation Office. This not only helped them to get the word out about their work as part of the International Year of Evaluation, but allowed us to make connections to an entirely new UN office.
  • In January, Professor Edwards and Associate Dean Ursula Sanjamino traveled to Randolph High School to make a two-hour presentation on the Sustainable Development Goals to over 150 students.
  • In March, the Center, in collaboration with University Libraries, hosted Todd Moss, Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Global Development. This event grew out of contacts between Professor Edwards and Library faculty member Lisa DeLuca.
  • In April, the Center hosted the finals of our Sustainable Development Scholarship Challenge. This was a new partnership developed with Center faculty, the Office of the Dean, and the Office of Enrollment Services. This project generated a total of 330 submissions and 257 new student inquiries, only 10% of which were from Diplomacy. It also generated twice as many international submissions as there were from the state of New Jersey alone. Recapping the finalists will help underscore how this project has helped to internationalize the university as well as further our reach within the US. Two of the finalists were prospective Diplomacy majors, two are prospective business majors, and six are prospective A&S majors. The six US finalists are from the following states: New Jersey (2), California, Florida, Illinois, and Washington. Four finalists are from outside the US: two from the Philippines, one from Kazakhstan, and one from Singapore.


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