by Alona Gaiek ’15 and Beltina Gieloshi ’15

On January 30, 2015, more than 30 University of Bridgeport faculty and students participated in the annual conference of the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) at UN Headquarters in New York City. Eight graduate students from the University were publicly recognized at the event, which drew more than 500 participants, including UN officials, ambassadors to the United Nations, and NGO representatives.

The 2015 CTAUN conference theme, “The UN at Seventy: Making a Difference,” recognized this milestone for “‘the only organization that has the worldwide membership, the global reach and universal legitimacy’ to tackle today’s many international concerns through diplomacy instead of through violence,” according to its website. The day-long conference covered topics ranging from the founding of the UN to its adaptability throughout each succeeding decade, as well as what the future holds for the organization.

UB, “as international as it gets,” was represented by eight current students in the Global Development and Peace graduate program who hailed from South America, the United States, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. UN Conference Chair Anne-Marie Carlson publicly awarded certificates of achievement to all eight UB students for poster presentations that reflected their ongoing research on the role of the United Nations in the furtherance of peace and development. The presenters, who are pictured above and listed below, fielded questions from the audience pertaining to their research during the InfoFair segment of the program:

  • Fidaa Alfalata ’16 from Saudi Arabia
  • Joel Amegboh ’13,’15 from Togo
  • Janaina Bordignon ’16 from Brazil
  • Rebecca Bruckenstein ’16 from New York City
  • Beltina Gjeloshi ’13,’15 from Albania
  • Mostafa Hassan ’16 from Egypt
  • Mohammad Haque ’16 from Bangladesh
  • Brandon Lafavor ’16 from Oregon

The Conference opened with a special video message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon outlining the importance of CTAUN and its educational programs. It was concluded by Ramu Damodaran, the UN official charged with United Nations’ outreach to colleges and universities worldwide.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Damodaran recognized the University of Bridgeport and the work of Dr. John Nicholas in environmental geology in particular. Dean Thomas Ward of UB’s College of Public and International Affairs (CPIA) served on the organizing committee for the CTAUN Conference and was given the honor of introducing the Conference keynote speaker, Mr. Bob Clark. Mr. Clark, presidential historian and acting director of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, spoke on “Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Origins of the United Nations,” sharing the historical handwritten notes that Roosevelt had sketched for the structure of the UN.

“I am impressed by the level of drive and talent manifested by CTAUN’s leadership and Anne-Marie Carlson, in particular,” said Dr. Ward, “and am grateful to UB’s students who played an exceptional role in the poster session and in helping to support the Conference.”

The University of Bridgeport has a long history with the United Nations, tracing back to the 1950s when it bestowed honorary doctorates on UN Undersecretary General and Nobel Laureate Ralph Bunche and UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights Chair Eleanor Roosevelt. UB President Leland Miles served as President of the official United Nations University NGO, the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) from 1981 to 1984. The University also recognized United Nations University for Peace Founding President Rodrigo Carrazzo with an honorary degree in the late 1980s.

In its more recent history, five United Nations General Assembly Presidents have visited UB. Since 2012, the University has had official status as a Non-Governmental Organization with the United Nations’ Department of Public Information.

Looking to the future, Professor Susan Katz, a member of CPIA’s mass communication faculty, brought to the conference 10 students working with CTAUN on a pro bono project to redesign its corporate brand. “We have a semester packed with an aggressive campaign plan to launch new media collateral for the organization,” said Katz. “CTAUN will get high-end traditional and digital media deliverables, and my students will get yet another solid campaign to show in their portfolios.”