In an increasingly interconnected world, students need to understand the complex issues we now face. challenges in peace and security, human rights, climate change and sustainable economic development need urgent attention from individuals with a deep grasp of these issues and a cosmopolitan vision of the world. The SUNY Global Engagement Program is designed to foster that kind of global citizenship. It provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the extensive global affairs conducted in New York City. New York is truly a global city, arguably more so than any other in the world. This is, after all, the home of the United Nations in addition to being a global financial and cultural center. Every major international organization maintains an office here, if not their central headquarters.
The GEP provides a fully integrated 12-15 credit academic and internship experience comprised of three interconnected components: a half time internship with any number of globally engaged organizations based in New York, an opportunity to critically reflect on that work with fellow students similarly positioned, and an original research project on issues with which they are intimately engaged. In the fall of 2013, the first cohort of GEP students secured globally engaged internships working for some of the world’s most important international organizations ranging from the Clinton Global Initiative to Doctors Without Borders. These are experiences that will shape their careers and their lives.
Our goal at the GEP is to have students work in an environment where they will be truly challenged, but also one for which they have the talent and ability to contribute to the real needs of the organization for which they are working. The organizations involved in the inaugural year of the Global Engagement Program provided a high quality experience for the students, and in turn, the GEP interns made meaningful contributions to the important work of these organizations.
The Global Engagement Program is more than just internship placements at leading globally engaged organizations. Students reflect upon and analyze their own experiences and the role of the organizations for which they are working. The Global Engagement Seminar component of the program gives students a critical social scientific understanding of the role of these organizations in the world, and in turn their role within these organizations. We study the important part that global civic organizations play in addressing the world’s most pressing problems.
In addition to the internship experience and critical reflection through the seminar, students also develop substantive knowledge of the issues they are working on through a research colloquium. Participants write a substantive research paper related to an issue that their organization addresses, and they present their work in the colloquium as they developed it throughout the semester. This yields high quality original research papers suitable for presentation at other venues or for use by the organizations working on the related issues.
The students who were part of the program’s first year also took full advantage of all that New York City has to offer by participating in many talks, conferences and other events related to global affairs.
Several students describe their experience in the Global Engagement Program as personally, professionally and intellectually transformative. I look forward to a new cohort of GEP participants, and I invite all interested students to with an interest in global affairs to apply for next fall’s program.
Ş. İlgü Özler, Associate Professor
Political Science and International Relations
Director, SUNY Global Engagement Program in NYC