Sunday, May 03, 2009

Course: UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century

A graduate seminar has been offered in the Spring semester at George Washington University for each of the past three years titled "UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century". Most students have been at the Masters level. The students meet for two hours, once per week for 14 weeks. The course is offered within the International Education Program of the university, but is open to students from other departments and even from other universities in the Washington region. The course is coordinated by officers of Americans for UNESCO, and many members of the Board of Directors have participated actively in its sessions and by advising students on class projects.

Click here for the syllabus.

Prior to the class there was a posting that explains a key orientation for the effort:

How to Understand Intergovernmental Organizations

During the las semester each of the sessions of the class was described briefly in a blog posting. Those postings are:
  1. UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century: The first session is a description of the course led by the coordinators, Frank Method and John Daly.
  2. The Dick and Ray Show: A presentation on the early history of UNESCO by Richard Arndt and Raymond Wanner, two experts on the topic.
  3. Education for All: The flagship effort of the UNESCO education program in the first of the student led classes. See also Education for All: Class of 2015, a video used in the class.
  4. The Other Education Programs of UNESCO: This first review of a specific program of UNESCO is described in some detail; a student led class.
  5. After EFA: What Next: This was an exercise in which students played the roles of UNESCO's educational stakeholders, led by Frank Method.
  6. UNESCO's World Heritage Center: The World Heritage program is UNESCO's best known and best loved effort; a student led class.
  7. Comments on the Budget of UNESCO: This was a supplement to the classroom materials, explaining the 2008-2009 budget in broad terms.
  8. Comments on the Culture Program: Describing the rest of the Culture program of UNESCO; a student led session.
  9. Class Exercise: ExBrd Working Group on Old City of Jerusalem: An exercise in which students played the roles of a Executive Board working group that met in 2007, led by John Daly.
  10. A Comment on the Natural Science Program of UNESCO: A student led class.
  11. Class: The Social and Human Sciences Program of UNESCO: A student led class.
  12. Why is UNESCO the Way it is? This posting summarized a means of understanding UNESCO developed in classes, and was supplementary to the class sessions.
  13. Class: The UNESCO Communication and Information Program: A student led class.
  14. Class: U.S. Foreign Policy and UNESCO: A view from the top: Michael Southwick, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations presented this class.
  15. Class: UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century: A panel of Raymond Wanner, Frank Method and John Daly and a discussion of the future of UNESCO.
  16. Class: The Final Session: The students presented their class projects, but the posting also makes some final comments on the overall course.
Frank Method, co-coordinator of the course
introduces Dick Arndt

Saturday, March 14, 2009

UNESCO and creation of CERN; CERN and the creation of the World Wide Web.

Aerial view of the CERN site just outside Geneva.Image © CERN.

The Creation of CERN

At the end of the Second World War, European science was no longer the crème de la crème. Following the example of the now mushrooming international organizations, a handful of visionary scientists imagined creating a European atomic physics laboratory. Raoul Dautry, Pierre Auger and Lew Kowarski in France, Edoardo Amaldi in Italy and Niels Bohr in Denmark were among these pioneers. Such a laboratory would not only unite European scientists but also allow them to share the increasing costs of nuclear physics facilities.
French physicist Louis de Broglie put the first official proposal for the creation of a European laboratory forward at the European Cultural Conference in Lausanne in December 1949. A further push came at the fifth UNESCO General Conference, held in Florence in June 1950, where the American Nobel laureate physicist, Isidor Rabi tabled a resolution authorizing UNESCO to "assist and encourage the formation of regional research laboratories in order to increase international scientific collaboration…" At an intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951, the first resolution concerning the establishment of a European Council for Nuclear Research was adopted. Two months later, 11 countries signed an agreement establishing the provisional Council – the acronym CERN was born. At the provisional Council's third session in October 1952, Geneva was chosen as the site of the future Laboratory. This choice was finally ratified in a referendum organized by the Canton of Geneva in June 1953.
Read more about the history of CERN

The Creation of the World Wide Web

Twenty years ago this month, something happened at CERN that would change the world forever: Tim Berners-Lee handed a document to his supervisor Mike Sendall entitled "Information Management : a Proposal". "Vague, but exciting" is how Mike described it, and he gave Tim the nod to take his proposal forward. The following year, the World Wide Web was born.

Check out the following websites:

Friday, January 02, 2009

Agenda for Americans for UNESCO for 2009

The Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO will meet on January 13th to consider the program of activities for 2009 for the organization. Dick Nobbe has provided this list of possible activities to be considered. Your comments are invited:
  1. GWU UNESCO Course - Offer for a third time a course on UNESCO for credit at George Washington University (N.B. AU has broken new ground in this area and there appears to be strong administrative and student interest in the topic. And AU has plenty of competence to handle it under the animated leadership of John Daly.).
  2. GWU UNESCO Club - Assist further the students at GWU in founding a UNESCO Club. (N.B. As I understand it, this project is still in the developmental stage. We should regard this activity as resource building for American participation in UNESCO's youth programs which have gained in status and now become a permanent feature of UNESCO General Conference sessions .I personally have a valuable collection of books, magazines, reports etc which I would be glad to donate to its library. Perhaps others do too.).
  3. U.S. National Commission for UNESCO - (N.B. We need to follow up on our transition paper calling for the restructuring of the US National Commission for UNESCO to its original legislative role of influencing policy direction at State and expanding knowledge about UNESCO's activities to the public.).
  4. The Ray Wanner Manuscript- (N.B. Any organization worth its salt must publish something periodically (besides minutes of its meetings) if it is to remain visible and viable.We have in hand a unique , ready-to-go publication which needs to see the light of day. AU should take advantage of GWU's lay-out and composition department while we still have access to their services. Funding may be difficult, but we should calculate the cost, earmark a portion of AU's budget to it, and pass the hat .My experience is that original publications of this kind eventually obtain funding.)
  5. UNESCO Reports of Meetings- (N.B. The principal end-product of UNESCO is the reports of its numerous technical meetings at considerable cost,yet they seldom see the light of day. AU should undertake a study of this problem with the view to cataloguing some of the more important ones for internet or website distribution to higher education institutions, NGOs, and other technical bodies in the US.)
  6. New US`Ambassador to UNESCO - Arrange a substantive dinner meeting for the new Ambassador early in the game accompanied with selective written materials such as our transition paper, previous brochure, and UNESCO publication on national commissions. (N.B. We did this for the previous US Ambassador and it was a great success by all accounts).
  7. Former US`Ambassador - Solicit her interest post haste in becoming an AU Board member in a Vice-President capacity. (N.B.In my opinion, she is very knowledgeable about UNESCO's programs and activities, is an excellent spokesperson and could be a real resource for us. Besides, she has undergone an epiphany, and we need converts and money for our cause. Nothing ventured, nothing gained !)
  8. UNESCO ADG Briefings. Arrange for one or two seminars during CY 2009 on a UNESCO sector.(N.B. It will be recalled that AU did this in cooperation with the UN Foundation and the UNESCO Liaison Office in New York in 2008 involving the ADG for Communications, and it was a big success. .I would give priority to the Social Science Sector after the incumbent ADG leaves since knowledge about the entirety of this sector's program is practically non-existent in the US Government and private sector).
  9. AU Social Science and Natural Sciences Committees (N.B.) These two committees need to be strengthened. For all practical purposes, they are leaderless or memberless.)
  10. US MAB Committee- Play a lead role in assisting the State Department to encourage Congress to provide support for a robust role of the US MAB Committee in UNESCO's program (N.B. I realize this matter is on State's agenda, but AU could help if we brought on Tom Gilbert and Sam McKee as AU Board members since both have formerly and prominently been involved with this program).
  11. Sid Passman's UNESCO News Bulletins. Explore with Sid ways of expanding his audience to include not just AU members, but all NatCom members, selective higher education institutions, NGOs (especially religious ones), and philanthropic foundations (N.B. I realize that not everyone is enthralled by what Sid selects but the fact remains Sid is the only source providing us with information about the totality of UNESCO activities., and he devotes considerable time to this effort. Frankly, without. his contributions, most of us would be in the dark about what UNESCO does).
  12. Universal Access to Cyberspace - Continue to monitor UNESCO's program activities contributing to the creation of an international strategic partnership to reduce the digital divide and to the development of knowledge societies through the implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action. (N.B. AU should team up with other NGOs to further this goal and participate in important international conferences to keep abreast of developments in this field).
I would add to this list, continued production of this blog and management of the AU website, with the possible recruitment of added volunteers to provide content.