The question of how the global community can sustainably manage the “high seas” – those ocean areas beyond the extent of national jurisdictions which make up huge portions of our planet – took center stage at the United Nations recently, as all the countries of the world gathered for the first time to hash out the details of a new global, legally-binding treaty.

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Aaron Strong Environmental Studies, Nick Jickling ’19 and Amarilys Milian ’19 (Environmental Studies) and Jack Wright ’19 (Public Policy and Environmental Studies) received accreditation to observe portions of the two-week long negotiations in New York.

The experience strongly shaped student impressions of environmental policy-making. “Discussing the convention as it unfolded with my professor and peers only improved the experience, providing us a time to reflect on the vast implications of the decisions we were witnessing,” said Wright.

“Students read about treaties and legislation, but actually seeing how these treaties are negotiated is a completely different experience and allows you to fully understand and appreciate the complexities involved in these decisions,” Milian said.

Strong plans to return to future negotiations with a Hamilton College delegation. He said, “I’m excited that students are able to see firsthand how questions of equity in the distribution of resources, the use of traditional ecological knowledge, and climate science information are raised in actual policy-making at a global scale. Being in the room really matters to understanding the process.”

“The Intergovernmental Conference was an incredible experiential learning experience and will shape my view of the United Nations throughout my time at Hamilton and beyond,” added Jickling.

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