“The world is coming to an end and the path to a new beginning starts within you”.

These are the powerful words of Prince Ea. We believe that by adding your voice to the global discussion, you become part of the solution.

So let’s take a look at how a course on the United Nations can help you add your voice.  

Welcome to this course about the United Nations. The knowledge you will gain from this course will enable you to understand the origins of the UN, how it works today, and challenge you to critique the UN.

Background to the UN

The United Nations (UN) was established in the aftermath of the Second World War with lofty goals. It’s purpose was to help stabilise international relations and give peace a more secure foundation. Its primary aims were, and are still today, to secure international peace, eliminate poverty and protect human rights.


The UN’s role has evolved over time from post-war transformation to address the complex humanitarian, environmental and developmental challenges we face today. Climate change, food security, exacerbating inequalities, and unemployment are among our global challenges that require global collective action. 


The UN is not built the way you’d build it in today’s environment. However, global cohesion and collaboration is essential to find solutions to the issues we face and the UN provides the only platform capable of generating solutions needed to address these global problems. Its membership covers the entire globe and increasingly brings together governments, civil society, academia and businesses. We want YOU to get involved in the discussion by engaging in the ideas presented in this course.


While the UN is still far from its ultimate goal, it has helped transform the lives of millions of people and demonstrated its capacity to drive profound changes in attitudes to violence, human rights and global development. We need to enrich our understanding of its work, affirm our support for it, and strengthen the UN so it can serve us more effectively. In the end, the UN is just a room full of people; when you add your voice to the global discussion, you become part of the solution. 

About this course

This UN Core Course is an introductory subject that aims to develop your awareness and understanding of the UN system and the global issues it tackles, and the often complex environments it operates in. It encompasses 12 modules each presenting one week of a semester or two hours learning time and a set of questions and activities at the end of each module guide your learning and help you grapple with the many issues we face today.


We hope that this course will encourage you to critically reflect on the role and activities of the UN, its members, and that of civil society – including you and me, and help you start your own conversations about the UN. As the role of nation states has become and continues to become less important, it is crucial that we understand how international relations, and increasing globalisation plays a key role in our lives. We hope this course will give you the tools to participate as a global citizen. 


In many cases youtube clips provide visual context about the issues at hand and suggested reading material and media will help you gain the necessary understanding for your assessment. Each module will conclude with a set of questions and a group activity where you can put your learning into action.

Taking it further

UN Core Course is offered by the United Nations Association of New Zealand and can be offered on campus or off campus, with the support of your teacher or tutor. You take responsibility for your learning and will be awarded a UNA NZ certificate at the completion of the course.


You may study UN Core Course simply as a stand alone subject or it can build a foundation if you want to pursue study in International Affairs & Political Science.

Taking it further


Our aims are for you to:

  • build a foundation for study in International Affairs & Political Science
  • develop awareness and understanding of the UN system and acknowledging the complexity of global issues it tackles
  • equip you with knowledge, skills and values to participate as active global citizens
  • critically reflect on the role and activities of the UN and start your own conversations about the UN.


Key objectives

On completion of this course, you will be able to: 

  • explain some key UN terminology, and the roles and functions of the main UN agencies
  • demonstrate understanding of the conflict(s) arising from national sovereignty and international responsibility
  • discuss the UN’s accomplishments and continuing goals
  • reflect on the UN’s shortcomings and need for reform 
  • understand global issues from a range of perspectives, and develop viewpoints on how to best tackle them
  • discuss the importance of the sustainable development goals 
  • describe New Zealand at the UN and the importance of the UN to New Zealand
  • understand that the UN has had many successes, but that challenges remain.

Learning Partnerships

Throughout the course, you will be supported by your teacher/tutor, who will also assess you. 



Each module concludes with a set of questions and a small group activity to put your learning into action. The suggested reading material and media provides context and the necessary information to answer the questions.


The final assessment will be a presentation on an area (from this UN Core Course) of most interest to you to your wider school. This can be a group activity. 

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