Admissions Blog

Specialization Spotlight: International Organizations/UN Studies

By Angel Ornelas '24
Posted Nov 02 2023

One of the most popular specializations at SIPA, International Organizations (IO) and United Nations Studies (UNS) is ideal for those interested in ‘internationalizing’ their degree. Although it is only 9 credits, learning about the international system is a crucial skill for any policymaker. The great thing about this specialization is that you have the option of pursuing one of the two focus areas. The first focus area, UN Studies, “centers on the role of the UN as a multilateral organization with the mission of promoting peace and security worldwide. The curriculum includes theories of international organizations, management of the UN system, and functional areas such as peace operations and development coordination.” The second focus, International Organizations, allows students “to study regional international organizations such as the EU, AU or Arab League.” I won’t be going in-depth on the academic side of this specialization, I will focus on the IO/UNS events that have shaped my SIPA experience. 

For all new IO/UNS specializers, there is a retreat that happens every semester. Led by specialization director Daniel Naujoks, the retreat brings together first and second-year Seeples passionate about international organizations and the UN system. Throughout the retreat, Daniel brings in  SIPA alumni working for prominent international organizations such as the IOM, UNICEF, and UNESCO, just to name a few. 

This semester, with the help of Daniel Naujoks, I was able to attend the SDG Action Weekend from September 16th-17th, 2023. SDG Action Weekend occurs every year before the UN General Assembly to bring together states, civil society organizations, academics, and the general public. The two days provided an overview of how much progress has been made to achieve the SDGs. I quickly realized that the international community has a lot to do to accomplish the SDGs - we are still very much behind. Nevertheless, this weekend was a great opportunity to network with other young professionals, as well as foreign representatives from countries all over the world. I hope you join the IO/UNS family at SIPA!