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WCSU students witness history at U.N. nuclear non-proliferation talks

As the world negotiated some of history’s most salient issues at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation talks at the United Nations in May, nearly two dozen Western students were watching.

Twenty-two students along with Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Damla Isik and Friar Michael Lasky of WCSU’s Newman Center, were at the U.N. talks in New York City on May 4 and 13. The talks included leaders from every country. The key issues, Kukk said, are what to do about Iran’s continued development of nuclear weapons systems, the idea of nuclear-free zones, and international nuclear fuel stations. “It’s like the Olympics of international diplomacy,” Kukk said.

More than half the students participating were in Kukk’s junior-level political science course, “Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Negotiation,” last fall. Students in the course interacted via videoconferencing with 25 graduate students from the Geneva School of Diplomacy, simulating non-proliferation treaty talks. The Geneva students were led by Dr. Yuri Narzkine, professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and a former Soviet nuclear weapons negotiator.

Kukk said this is an opportunity of a lifetime for his students, especially since the talks only take place once every five years. “This opportunity demonstrates, once again, that our university is not only an institution of higher education where we study global politics but a place where we are actively engaged in international relations. We don’t close doors to opportunities here; we find ways to keep them open.”

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Clockwise from top:
Students in a political science class conducted by Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk interact with students in Geneva, Switzerland via Skype technology; outside the United Nations, peace activists proclaim their position; Kukk, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Damla Isik, Friar Michael Lasky of WCSU’s Newman Center, and 22 students attended the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation talks in New York City.