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Connecting Academics and UN Practitioners – A Unique Encounter at the UN Vienna
February 28 – March 1, 2011 

A joint event of the UN Information Service Vienna and  the Academic Council on the United Nations System in cooperation with CTBTO, UNEP-Vienna, UNODC, UN Studies Association,  UNA-Austria, AFA, UNA-Hungary, ASO-Ljubljana, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Economic University of Prague, Boltzman Institute for Human Rights-University of Vienna, University of Vienna Law School, Sigmund Freud University, and many more.

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Background

Regarding the United Nations, we have two kinds of experts: academics and UN practitioners. Although both are supposed to posses expert knowledge about the UN, academics’ and practitioners’ knowledge about the UN differs in many regards.

As for example, practitioners possess more implicit knowledge about the world institution – more of a “know-how” they have obtained while working at the UN. Academics mostly have learned from the “outside” about the UN, via textbooks and other learning material. Their knowledge is explicit in that it can be put into words, expressed in concepts and theories. Despite a growing exchange between UN practitioners and academia, the gap between practitioners’ know-how and what is taught in universities is still patent. This includes world views regarding the UN, problem definitions, terminology and other fundamental aspects.

This conference aspires to contribute to bridging the divide between the two dimensions of UN expertise in bringing together UN-related academics and practitioners. Therefore, academics have the opportunity to listen to first-hand reports of UN practitioners on actual developments in specific areas of UN policy (justice and rule of law, outer space, environment and disarmament). Based on these insiders’ views, didactic and other questions related to teaching the UN will be discussed. Participants are encouraged to share their teaching experiences, teaching material and other resources.