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

DANBURY, CONN. — As the world negotiated some of history’s most salient issues at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation talks at the United Nations this month, nearly two dozen students from Western Connecticut State University were watching.

Twenty-two WestConn students along with Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Damla Isik and Friar Michael Lasky of WestConn’s Newman Center, were at the U.N. talks in New York City on May 4 and will return on May 13 for another day of negotiations.

The talks, which started May 3, include leaders from every world 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.

While the talks are closed to the public, WestConn students have been granted access as a non-governmental organization (NGO) through Lasky’s membership with Franciscans International. More than half of the students participating were in Kukk’s junior-level political science course, “Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Negotiation,” last semester. 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.”

In addition to listening to the exchange of world leaders, students will meet privately with the spokesperson from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Archbishop of Nagasaki, and the ambassador from the Vatican to the U.N., Archbishop Migliore.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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