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UTS, NGOs, and the United Nations

Housed in 4W43, home to many non-profits, the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) is immersed in the not-for-profit culture. Students have attended events hosted by those non-profits or have engaged in dialogue with dynamic organizations like New York Disaster Interfaith Services, Chhandayan, Peace Club, The Muslim Center, and The Family Church of NYC.

UTS is also “immersed” in the heart of New York City and NYC is home to the United Nations (UN). UTS is located just off 5th Ave., just a 17-minute walk from the UN Headquarters on the East Side. This proximity has made it possible for UTS faculty, staff and students to take part in many events at the UN and to cooperate with several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which work closely with the UN.

In the Spring 2018 semester a cohort of UTS students took a deep dive into a 5-week intensive course, Interfaith Peacebuilding and the UN, taught by Dr. Frank Kaufmann.

According to Dr. Kaufmann, “students… visit and learn from new and different UN and NGO leaders, followed by traditional classroom instruction and group work. This will allow students to build up unique knowledge and expertise in this vital, and needed dimension of interfaith, namely how interfaith is related to broader efforts for peace.

Frank Kaufmanns

As this was the first time the course was offered, the students were initially unsure as to what to expect. Judging from their responses, however, their uncertainties quickly vanished and their highest expectations were met.”

Kinda Zongo, one of two students from Burkina Faso, was also unsure as to the course structure, and whether or not it would be a learning as well as fulfilling experience.

“By taking this course with Dr. Kaufmann and considering the style, I was wondering exactly what I will learn in five weeks of intense visits,” said Kinda. “But, in the field, I was surprised by the depth of knowledge we gained from these different UN-affiliated NGOs. By combining field visits and class discussion, this course opened our eyes to the actions that NGOs lead concretely in the field and in relation with the interfaith peace building and the United Nations.”

Joy Theriot, UTS Director of Student Life, has for several years been building connections with non- profits in the New York area, and works closely with several of the NGOs connected with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). She introduces many UTS students to organizations which are active in supporting the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

On Thursday October 25, Joy Theriot and Famidah Dirampaten walked over to the ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters to attend a lunch-time briefing on Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG#5), Gender Equality.

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Famidah, a UTS student in the MA in Religious Studies program had this to say, “It was such a privilege to have attended and listened to an inspiring panel of global movers and shakers at the United Nations. These incredible badass women represent a lot of us, the ones who have a vision and the courage to see it through.

Their stories of fearlessness, will, and determination are truly an inspiration. These amazing women all grew up with their dreams, and despite their circumstances, they persevered to chase the light at the end of the tunnel and now, they are paying it forward as GLOBAL LEADERS.”



“Never give up on your dream, never let opinions of others change who you are.” Mariama Camara, one of 5 speakers on the panel, is an entrepreneur, humanitarian and advocate for women and girls, born in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa.

A video message was presented by Monique Coleman for DPI NGO Briefing “Who Rules the World? #GirlsRule