The UN Academic Impact Initiative

What is the United Nations Academic Impact Initiative?

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in furthering the realization of the purposes and mandate of the Organization through activities and research in a shared culture of intellectual social responsibility.

The UNAI Initiative is a programme of the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information.

What exactly does the UNAI Initiative want to accomplish?

  1. To bring into association with the United Nations, and with each other, institutions of higher learning throughout the world;
  2. To provide a mechanism for such institutions to commit themselves to the fundamental precepts driving the United Nations mandate, in particular the realization of the universally determined Millennium Development Goals;
  3. To serve as a viable point of contact for ideas and proposals relevant to the United Nations mandate;
  4. To promote the direct engagement of institutions of higher education in programs, projects and initiatives relevant to this mandate.

Who Can Become a Member of the UNAI?

Membership in the United Nations Academic Impact is open to all institutions of higher education granting degrees or their equivalent, as well as bodies whose substantive responsibilities relate to the conduct of research.

How Can An Institution of Higher Education Become a Member of the UNAI?

The formal enrolment of academic institutions in the United Nations Academic Impact must be approved by their Chief Executive Officers and processed through the online enrolment form:

Enrolment applications are reviewed by the United Nations Academic Impact Team, who, after approval, notifies the institutions by email.

The list of UNAI members is updated on a regular basis.

UNAI members are expected to undertake one new activity each year, to actively address at least one of the ten basic principles of the United Nations Academic Impact.

UNAI MEMBERS list as of January 2015:

What are these 10 basic principles of the UNAI?

  1. A commitment to the principles inherent in the United Nations Charter as values that education seeks to promote and help fulfil;
  2. A commitment to human rights, among them freedom of inquiry, opinion, and speech;
  3. A commitment to educational opportunity for all people regardless of gender, race, religion or ethnicity;
  4. A commitment to the opportunity for every interested individual to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for the pursuit of higher education;
  5. A commitment to building capacity in higher education systems across the world;
  6. A commitment to encouraging global citizenship through education;
  7. A commitment to advancing peace and conflict resolution through education;
  8. A commitment to addressing issues of poverty through education;
  9. A commitment to promoting sustainability through education;
  10. A commitment to promoting inter-cultural dialogue and understanding, and the “unlearning” of intolerance, through education.

Is there a fee for participation and/or membership in the UNAI?

No, there is no cost or fee for affiliation to the United Nations Academic Impact UNAI.

What is the responsibility of UNAI members and/or participants?

Participants in the UNAI initiative are expected to undertake to further, within their institutions, policies and programmes that reflect adherence to the principles governing the United Nations Academic Impact. This would specifically include:

  1. Undertaking one new activity each year, to actively address at least one of the ten basic principles of the United Nations Academic Impact.

In many cases, such activities can emerge from a redefinition of, or fresh thrust to, existing projects and programmes.  Examples of activities could include research projects and papers, the hosting of a conference, the financing of participation of students in a specific United Nations activity in the field, or a specific action or activity on campus.

Any activity which is sponsored or paid for by a United Nations entity in the context of its own work programme shall be excluded from consideration.

2. Placing prominently upon the institution websites, or in periodic printed publications, details of such activity, highlighting its relationship to UNAI through the use of UNAI logos, UNAI Member and UNAI In Action.

When publicizing an activity undertaken in support of one of the UNAI Principles, the “UNAI in Action” logo should be used. However, these activities can neither be commercial in nature nor be used for fund-raising purposes.

I heard that there are focal points, or “hubs,” in the UNAI? What are these?

Yes, there are 10 “hubs” corresponding to the 10 principles of the UNAI.

These hubs are UNAI members that have been designated to collect materials pertaining to the specific UNAI Principle they are tasked to promote, and to post these materials on their websites and other promotional venues.

What are these 10 UNAI Hubs?

  1. Higher Education HubGeorge Mason University
  2. Inter-Cultural Dialogue Hub – Escuela Politécnica Javeriana del Ecuador
  3. Sustainability Hub – Al Farabi Kazakh University
  4. Addressing Poverty HubUniversity of Kwazulu-Natal
  5. Peace and Conflict Resolution HubCETYS
  6. Global Citizenship HubAna G. Mendez University System
  7. Capacity- Building HubHandong Global University
  8. Education For All HubLahore University of Management Sciences
  9. Human Rights Hub – Sorbonne University
  10. UN Charter HubF. Oberlin University

What is ASPIRE?

ASPIRE is the acronym for Action by Students to Promote Innovation and Reform through Education.

What is the difference between UNAI and ASPIRE?

UNAI is driven by Institutions of Higher Learning, while ASPIRE is driven by students.

What is the aim of ASPIRE?

ASPIRE connects student organizations and individuals to global opportunities through the United Nations, educational and academic institutions, and civil society groups that focus on the UNAI principles.

ASPIRE prioritizes above all else, activism and action by students to promote and support the ten universally accepted UNAI principles.

How are ASPIRE and UNAI linked to each other?

ASPIRE groups are directly affiliated to UNAI, and when their institution is a UNAI member, to it as well.

What does the UN expect from ASPIRE groups?

  1. Reinforce, suggest or initiate activities that actively support one or more of the ten UNAI principles.
  2. Participate in UNAI activities and initiatives, for example, the Classroom Conversation seminar series, and the “Unlearning Intolerance” discussion series.
  3. Participate in conferences organized by UNAI and UNAI member institutions.
  4. Contribute to the promotion of the ten UNAI principles via social media and UNAI platforms.
  5. Let the United Nations know about their events ahead of time so that the UN can assist where it can and afterwards so that the UN can share news about the ASPIRE chapter on UN digital platforms.