Dr. Borislava Manojlovic, Assistant Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution program at our campus, led a workshop at the United Nations Headquarters in New York concerning environmental challenges and consensus building on August 6 and 7. This two–day workshop featured speakers from UN Peacekeeping Operations Department, the Community Sant’Egidio, and GMUK’s, Dr. Borislava Manojlovic. The participants were university students and graduates as well as some high school students from abroad who are participating in the model UN focused on environmental challenges and are interested in careers in peacemaking, diplomacy and conflict resolution.
The workshop began with an opening lecture by Dr. Manojlovic followed by a lecture by Mr. Hector Calderon, Public Information Officer of UN Peacekeeping. Mr. Calderon gave an overview of the structure and budget of the UN as well as the Sustainable Development Goals and current missions and projects being carried out by the UN. Students were able to ask specific questions to both Dr. Manojlovic and Mr. Calderon. The lecture was followed by a group exercise led by Dr. Manojlovic where participants used the problem tree model to discuss and present the most pressing environmental threats of today as well as viable solutions.
The second day, Dr. Manojlovic focused heavily on the topic: Negotiating Consensus on Environmental Challenges. She both lectured and did simulation exercises around the symptoms of climate change, the devastation that is already occurring and what is to come, as well as the responsibility of everyone from the individual to the states and the international community to come to a consensus and address this challenge. It is well known that there is a lot of denial of climate change. Dr. Manojlovic and the participants brainstormed the causes of this added challenge. Dr. Manojlovic demonstrated real practical ways to overcome perceived divergence in interests using theory and real life examples. Participants were challenged to come up with real action plans of consensus and through this exercise it became clear that their mindset shifted from the responsibility of mostly governments and the international community to lead the way to taking individual responsibility. Though they brought up relevant concerns about persuading older generations and deniers of climate change, they reflected upon their newly learned conflict resolution tools and how theory can be put into action.
On top of this, they also stated their personal goals in the global movement to address today’s environmental challenges. The workshop concluded with the participants stating the most important lessons they learned from the experience. Their words radiated a sense of raised consciousness, personal responsibility and hope.
August 14, 2019