UN Week brings speakers, films

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Starting Tuesday, students will be able to experience four days of interactive events and talks about the United Nations (U.N.) and its influence in the larger community.

Professors and students, in collaboration with the William and Elizabeth Kahane United Nations Program at Occidental College (Oxy at the U.N.), designed and created Occidental’s first U.N. Week with the goal of informing the college community about both the Occidental program and the U.N. organization.

Spearheaded by Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) Professor Derek Shearer, who co-chairs the Kahane U.N. Committee, U.N. Week celebrates not only the U.N.’s 70th anniversary, but also the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) last September. The 17 SDGs aim to eradicate poverty with the cooperation of all countries over the next 15 years, according to Emily Linebarger (senior), an organizer of U.N. Week.

“The SDGs are asking for every single person in the world to contribute to ending poverty, and so it is crucial that people understand what they are,” Linebarger said. “My hope would be that people walk away with a more nuanced understanding and feeling that they are part of the U.N. in a little way.”

U.N. Week will feature speakers throughout the week, including Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Minister of Canada, who played a key role in Canada’s support for the U.N., particularly concerning the international agreement on land mines, as well as the development of the U.N. doctrine Responsibility to Protect, according to Shearer. Axworthy will speak Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Choi Auditorium on “Resettling the Narrative: Peace, Security and the U.N.’s Responsibility to Protect.”

Students will hear from former director of the World Policy Institute Steve Schlesinger, who was a foreign policy adviser to former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Schlesinger’s lecture, “The U.N. and the U.S. After Obama,” will take place Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. in Choi Auditorium.

U.N. Week will feature a virtual reality exhibit where students can view the screenings of the United Nations Millennium Campaign’s (UNMC) two virtual reality films, “Clouds over Sidra” and “Waves of Grace.” These films present the lives of a 12-year-old Syrian refugee and an Ebola survivor in Liberia, giving students a glimpse into the experiences of individuals facing global development issues. After the viewings, students will get the chance to participate in a question and answer session with the films’ co-producer Gabo Arora and UNMC head of programming Kristin Gutekunst.

Students can drop by Monday 11 a.m.–6 p.m. at the Brown Lab and Tuesday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Varelas Lab to see the films and view the interactive media exhibit.