First Conference on Connecting Academics and Practitioners

Connecting Academics and UN Practitioners – A Unique Encounter at the UN Vienna

28 February and 1 March, 2011

at the Vienna International Centre, Vienna, Austria

A project of  the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS)  and UNSA

in cooperation with the UNIS-Vienna, CTBTO, UNEP-Vienna, UNODC, UN Office of Outer Space Affairs, Foreign Policy and United Nations Association-Austria, Academic Forum Austria, Austrian Institute for International Affairs, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, UN Studies Association, UNA-Czech Republic, UNA-Hungary, UNA-Serbia, UNA-Slovenia, ASO-Ljubljana, Center for Non-Proliferation Studies (Monterey, USA), Boltzman Institute for Human Rights, Economic University of Prague, Sigmund Freud Private University, University of Belgrade, University of Vienna Law School, Webster University.


Regarding the United Nations, we have two kinds of experts: academics and UN practitioners. Although both are supposed to posess 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.