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UIMF members inform Dr. Lago about achievements at the HLPF 2018

Dr. Lago watches a video of UVU students making an oral statement at the UN

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) and myself had the opportunity to report our achievements during the visit to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development on July 15-19, 2018 to Dr. Baldomero Lago. Dr. Lago is the Chief International Officer and an official representative to the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) at UVU. Dr. Lago provided essential assistance to our delegation to achieve our goals at the UN. As the Chief International Officer, he has a lot of experience navigating and furthering the mission of UVU within the UN. As such, it was our duty to report about the achievements of UVU delegation within the UN at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum.        

Dr. Lago, Andrew Jensen, Samuel Elzinga and Amy Barnet after the meeting

Within our meeting with Dr. Lago, we began by showing him the footage of our delegations presentation to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN (footage can be found at: Dr. Lago watched the video and then commentated that he was very impressed with our achievements and with our presentation. We explained that at the end we were congratulated by the President of the session, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila,  for delivering our presentation in English and in the allotted time. Afterwards I was allowed time to give Dr. Lago a brief reflection on our events from my perspective. I told him that overall, I felt that the experience was a positive one and that the opportunity to give an oral presentation allowed for many contacts with a wide range of different people and organizations within the UN. I explained that as President of the Model United Nations club at UVU, my peers and I had competed at the UN Conference in San Francisco and were awarded a certificate for our excellent performance. I explained that this experience was valuable because it gave me an inside view into the nuances and policies within the UN. I expressed that this was valuable experience and that the Model United Nations club and the UIMF would benefit from further interaction and partnership.

After this I explained that a valuable resource that we attained while at the UN was a new partnership with the Global University System (the article which can be found at: As explained in the aforementioned article, the Global University System is an organization that works with various universities with the intent to promote global best practice educational programs. The opportunity to communicate with the Global University System came from the opportunity to submit a joint cross-cutting statement to all nations that were giving a Voluntary National Review (more information which can be found at: I explained that this meeting was valuable and that I looked forward to Dr. Lago’s further communication with the Global University System. At the end of this portion of the meeting we had the opportunity to further discuss with Dr. Lago, the opportunities and implications of the United Nations DPI conference that is slated to occur next year. Though the details are still in the works, UVU will assuredly be actively involved with future UN activities.

Sam Elzinga, my colleague reported about his experiences of managing protocol for the delegation. We had meetings with Permanent Representatives of several nations accredited to the UN, like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and others and it happened thanks to the assistance from the office of Dr. Lago and his assistant Amy Barnett.

Andrew Jensen, President, Model UN club at UVU



UIMF reports to Dean Clark about 2018 HLPF activities

Samuel Elzinga, Dean of CHSS, Dr. Steven Clark, and Damon Ashcraft during their meeting.

             On Friday, August 3rd, 2018, delegates from the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), met with the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Steven Clark to follow up on UIMF’s recent visit to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. The meeting was a grand overview of the preparation for the event and a report on the event itself, which included us watching with Dr. Clark our oral statement as recorded by UN Web TV.

One of the concepts we highlighted in the meeting with Dr. Clark was the emphasis on student engaged learning. Since it is one of the core philosophies of UVU and because this visit to the HLPF on Sustainable Development was a prime example, the emphasis on student engaged learning was well received. Dr. Clark was very impressed at all our work to get this visit set up and executed properly. UIMF prides itself on its successful approach to student engaged learning, and one of the best examples of this model is shown through visits to the United Nations.

We also expressed our gratitude for all the support we received from the Dean’s office, as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences gave each student that participated in the trip 400 dollars each to use as a travel grant to pay for tickets to New York. Without these travel grants, the trip would not have been possible, so we made sure to express our appreciation for the funding. Though the meeting with the Dean was somewhat brief, it was a great way to follow up with the university to show everyone what we did over the summer. I am looking forward to the other meetings we will have in the future about this trip.

Samuel Elzinga, President, Foreign Affairs Club

UIMF at High Level Political Forum on sustainable development 2018


Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation at HLPF 2018 (L to R): Andrew Jensen, Samuel Elzinga, Damon Ashcraft, UVU students and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, Lecturer, History and Political Science Department , UVU


Agenda of the visit to the UN          Task list for the visit 


Written statement E/2018/NGO/17 submitted by Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, for delivery during HLPF 


Recommendation  E/2018/67 for RANS to be heard by the ECOSOC

UIMF members make the oral statement during general debates at HLPF on July 19, 2018 


Oral statement of the UVU delegation at HLPF 2018


Video of the oral statement of UIMF members at HLPF 2018, time frame 1:20:15-1:23:15 (Courtesy of the 


UN Press Release – ECOSOC/6945 from July 19, 2018 about UIMF members statement 


Mountain Partnership about UIMF contribution to HLPF2018


 Op-Ed about the visit in Higher Education Tomorrow, Volume 5, Article 6    


Photos of UIMF activities at HLPF


UVU delegation passes for making the oral statement during general debates at HLPF on July 19, 2018




Damon Ashcraft-UIMF prepares to participate at HLPF


Samuel Elzinga-UIMF at UN High Level Political Forum A Protocol Perspective


Andrew Jensen Preparations to advocate the mountain targets at High Level Political Forum




Sam-Elzinga-Day Before the HLPF



Sam Elzinga-Discussing Mountain Activities with Mr. Mastrojeni During HLPF 2018


Damon Ashcraft-UIMF focuses on mountains during first day at HLPF 2018


Samuel Elzinga-UIMF attends a side event on mountains at HLPF 2018


Andrew Jensen-UIMF participated at the Mountain Partnership activities at HLPF 2018


Andrew Jensen-UIMF networks with professionals at HLPF 2018



Samuel Elzinga-UIMF discusses SDG17 with PR of Uzbekistan to UN


 Samuel Elzinga- Learning from Romania about NGOs involvement in SDGs implementation


Damon Ashcraft – Attending a side event on the involvement of the civil society in the monitoring of the SDGs



 Andrew Jensen-UIMF asked mountain-focused question during VNR of Romania


Samuel Elzinga-UIMF HLPF 2018 delegates learn about Tajikistan’s water decade initiative


Sam Elzinga- UIMF discussed mountain targets with envoy of Kyrgyzstan during 2018 HLPF


Andrew Jensen-UIMF partners with the Global University System at HLPF 2018


Samuel Elzinga-UIMF attended a 2018 HLPF side event on Central Asia



Andrew Jensen-UIMF engaged learning lessons during general debates at HLPF 2018


Samuel Elzinga-UIMF oral statement and general debates at HLPF 2018



UIMF Congratulates Utah China F.I.S.H.D.&C. with Joining the Mountain Partnership

Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce (Utah China F.I.S.H.D.&C.) , a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, joined the Mountain Partnership.

Utah International Mountain Forum congratulates Ms. Wendy Jyang, President of Utah China F.I.S.H.D.&C. with such a new important step in this NGO activities.

Ms. Wendy Jyang and her NGO supported several UIMF initiatives with focus on the promotion of the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah, North America and at the United Nations.

Ms. Jyang was a very active contributor to the activities and agenda of the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference which UIMF hosted at UVU in October 2015. The conference was highlighted in the UN Secretary Generals report on SMD  A/71/256  on July 29, 2016.

Her NGO co-sponsored joint written statements, which highlighted UVU student engaged learning model to advocate for SMD agenda, during the 53rd session of the UN Commission on Social development in January-February, 2018, during 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018, and during the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July, 2018.

Yanko Dzhukev, UIMF Liaison for MPS under FAO-UN 



UIMF delegation will participate at the high-level political forum on sustainable development

Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation will contribute to the activities of the high-level political forum (HLPF) on sustainable development in 2018. HLPF will be held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council from Monday, 9 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018. It will include the three-day ministerial meeting of the forum from Monday, 16 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018.

The theme of the HLPF 2018 will be “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. The forum will review in depth the following Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

UVU delegation plans to make an oral statement during the ministerial meeting of the forum. This happened thanks to UVU partnership with the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), an NGO in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Committee from non-governmental organizations made a recommendation on May 30, 2018 for RANS among eight non-governmental organizations from around the world to be heard by ECOSOC during HLPF.

In the statement, delegation members will speak about the importance of the implementation of three mountain targets, which are part of two SDGs included in the agenda of the HLPF: SDG6 and SDG15. UVU students advocate the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah, North America and globally since 2007. Since 2015, they focus on implementation of the mountain targets as part of the 2030 Development Agenda of the United Nations.

The written statement E/2018/NGO/17  jointly submitted by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the Mountain Institute and Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council,  was accepted by the United Nations Secretariat for delivery during HLPF on May 30, 2018.  We appreciate support from all three NGOs to the developed student engaged learning initiative at UVU with focus on implementation of three mountain targets.

The statement emphasizes that “…High Level Political Forum provides an opportunity to address the challenges facing mountain communities to transform them into more sustainable and resilient societies and to bring them to the center of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Two sustainable development goals under the review of this forum  contain three mountain targets: Target 6.6: by 2020, protect and restore water related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes; Target 15.1: by 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements; Target 15.4: by 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development. ”

It also reports about collaborative experiences with Utah Valley
University, a Mountain Partnership member since 2006, as one of the examples to transform mountain communities towards sustainable and resilient societies. ” Since joining the Mountain Partnership, the university encourages faculty and students to
contribute to the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah, North America, and in developing countries globally. It allowed the university also to implement the mountain targets under the Sustainable Development Goal 4.7, which states that “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture ’s contribution to sustainable development.””

One UVU faculty and five students, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs will represent UVU delegation during four days ministerial meeting.

We thank College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Global Engaged Learning office, Department of History and Political Science and National Security Studies program for sponsoring our visit to the United Nations.

Damon Ashcraft, Vice President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club  


Written statement E/2018/NGO/17 submitted by Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, for delivery during HLPF 


Recommendation E/2018/67 for RANS to be heard by the ECOSOC



Damon Ashcraft-UIMF prepares to participate at HLPF


Samuel Elzinga-UIMF at UN High Level Political Forum A Protocol Perspective


Andrew Jensen -Preparations to advocate the mountain targets at High Level Political Forum

Continuing Traditions of the Sustainable Mountain Development Club

(L to R): Andrew Jensen, Brandon Merrill and Sam Elzinga during the meeting

On May 24, 2018 members of the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) Club at Utah Valley University (UVU) planned to have a meeting with focus on preparations to the visit and participation at the United Nations High Level Political Forum in July 16-19, 2018. Due to a number of issues, the meeting was postponed to a different date. Instead, Sam Elzinga, a member of the SMD club and the President of the Foreign Affairs club at UVU and myself were able to get together with Brandon Merrill, a UVU graduate, the first President of SMD club and now a legal advocate for the non-governmental organization “The Never Again Foundation” from Queen Creek, Arizona. The Never Again Foundation is a nonprofit charity that provides legal assistance to families of victims killed by domestic violence. (For more information, see: )

Brandon came to the university to participate at the first ever UVU Conference on Ending Domestic Violence, hosted by several UVU schools, including the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Sorensen Student Center. The conference opening keynote speaker was Victor Rivas Rivers, a veteran film star, best-selling author, renowned advocate for violence prevention, and the first Cuban-born football player to land a tryout with the Miami Dolphins. Another dignitary, Lundy Bancroft, was chair of the afternoon plenary session. Lundy Bancroft has authored five books in the field, including the U.S.’s best-selling book on domestic violence, “Why Does He Do That?”, and the national prizewinner The Batterer as Parent.

Brandon found time in his conference schedule to visit the office of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU  and chat a little bit with both of us and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, Advisor of the UIMF. It was his special pleasure to do that and remind us that he was among the first students at UVU to establish UIMF and to be the first President of the SMD club.

He remembered, with special warmth, his years at UVU and how he was able to contribute towards hosting the second international Women of the Mountains Conference in March 2011. More than 60 students successfully hosted it for the first time on their own as a student engaged learning initiative. As a result of that success, they decided to establish UIMF during the summer of that same year and Brandon Merrill became both one of the vice Presidents of the UIMF and the President of the newly created SMD club. He mentioned with special pleasure how he worked together then with John McClure, the first President of UIMF, Jesse Gray, and Jordan Giles, his VPs at that time.

Brandon contributed a number of activities to the SMD agenda promotion both in the State of Utah and abroad: he not only shared the stories of how he hosted International Mountain Days at UVU and campaigns to raise funds to provide solar energy kits for several countries in Africa  (See:, but also showed us his face on posters which hang now at the UIMF office at UVU. (See: )

As a result of his involvement with the advocacy of the SMD agenda at UVU, Brandon decided to continue his education in that area and graduated from Vermont Law School. His current job and activities are related to the topics which he focused during his time at UVU. He also follows up the progress at UVU with the SMD agenda. Brandon was very happy to know that UVU students were able to successfully advocate for the mountain women cause at the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women during March 19-21, 2018.

During the meeting, we agreed to continue our relationships and count on Brandon Merrill’s support to UIMF activities as an alumni. Brandon mentioned that he still has many previous ties worldwide with focus on SMD promotion and would be glad to share them with current UIMF and SMD club members.

It was a very interesting and inspiring meeting with Brandon Merrill, one of the founders of UIMF and the SMD club.

Andrew Jensen, President Model UN Club

SMD club focuses on improving air quality in Utah

Spring 2018 has been an exciting semester for the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) Club. Early in the semester, the club underwent some leadership changes, with myself elected as President and Damon Ashcraft as Vice President of the club. The club also saw a large increase in membership, growing to nearly 15 members. With these changes, the members decided to set some goals and action plans for the club moving forward. First, we wanted to continue our partnership with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) by assisting to host dignitaries from all around the world. We also decided to add our voice to those who are addressing air quality in the state of Utah and immediately began brainstorming ideas to help in that crucial effort.

Cougar Einfeldt, Emmanuel Omaria and Kyler Pigott host a table at UVU

Our first impression, as primarily political science majors, was to write legislation addressing the poor air quality experienced across the Wasatch Front. We started research on how to write and present a law in the Utah 2019 Legislative session, once we had a basic grasp of the process, we dove in. During the early stages of our data gathering, we learned about an on-campus research group, whose focus was also air quality, and intended their research to be used for legislation. We met with the leadership of that group and decided to work together towards this monumentally important issue. Currently, we are in the stages of benchmarking air quality legislation and policy of other states, foreign governments, and large-scale companies. At the end of May we will meet with the research team again to compile data and begin the more formal process of writing and proposing the legislation based off the data found.

Emmanuel Omaria explains to UVU student how to improve air quality in Utah (front), while  Caitlin Tomly speaks with UVU faculty member about initiative to increase public transit usage on campus (back)

Because of the grandeur of the previous goal discussed, we also set a smaller goal of reducing on campus emissions through by encouraging students and faculty to utilize the public transit system that runs throughout Utah. We accomplished this by tabling throughout the semester, in different locations around campus. During these events, we approached students and faculty alike as they passed in the hallways, and had a short but informative discussion with them about the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality. Then it was easier for us to encourage them to take the bus, carpool, or even bike to campus, as a personal commitment they can make to reduce particle pollution in our communities. We also offered information on the transit routes, and helped them understand exactly how they could utilize the system.

While it is difficult to quantify exactly how much of an impact our tabling made on the emissions produced by the school, the events did draw the attention of several faculty members, who in turn provided us with more opportunities to take part in the schools efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Specifically, faculty member Ms. Colleen Bye connected us with members of the university’s faculty Senate in charge of planning and coordinating efforts to reach UVU’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. With this connection, we will contribute to the agenda of an upcoming event “Sustainability Day” at UVU on October 1st, 2018.

Through Colleen, we contacted several groups at Brigham Young University, also focused on reducing emissions by utilizing alternate transportation. We are currently coordinating efforts with them to create multi-campus initiatives. Additionally we are working with student led groups at both Brigham Young University and University of Utah to host a Climate Campaign event, to highlight the efforts of universities across Utah in addressing climate and sustainability issues. These intercollegiate efforts will not only highlight each universities impact on the issues, but especially UVU’s engaged learning model for student led projects.

Moving forward, the SMD club is increasing it’s utilization of the engaged learning model by submitting a written statement to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018 session (the HLPF is the highest forum of the United Nations focused on sustainability and climate issues). We plan to attend the event in New York in July, and submitted already a draft for oral and written statements. If either of them is accepted, then members of the SMD club secure their place at the HLPF. Finally, we are working to register the UIMF as either a non-profit, or an non-governmental organization, in order to open up even more opportunities for engaged learning in later years.

Kyler Pigott, President Sustainable Mountain Development Club at Utah Valley University 



Damon Ashcraft-Raising funds to promote sustainable mountain development 


Model U.N. Conference of the Far West in San Francisco

I was able to attend the Model United Nations Conference of the Far West in San Francisco, California during April 20-23, 2018.  Being my first time, I didn’t really know what to expect going in to the conference.  First, because our delegation represented Japan, myself and the other representatives from Utah Valley University (UVU) were able to meet with the representatives of the Japanese Consulate-General in San Francisco.

Utah Valley University students with Mr. Shoichi Nagayoshi, Deputy Council General of Japan to San Francisco ( R )

We were able to talk with them and ask questions about some of the different issues about Japan that we were preparing to discuss through this four-day conference.  They informed us and reiterated some of the stances of Japan on different policies, including the question of Palestine, the struggle of dealing with North Korea, as well as such issues as climate change and humanitarian ones.  Concerning North Korea, we discussed and compared the nuclear deal the United States made with North Korea back when President Clinton was in office, and the nuclear deal President Barack Obama made with Iran.  The Japanese Representatives said that the largest difference between then and now is that the nuclear world is developing long-range missiles, which were not available years ago when the deal was made by Administration of the President Clinton.  They also made clear to us that Japan is a very peaceful country and desires very much to demilitarize modern day international politics and only desires to promote peace and security throughout the world.  Another interesting issue that the consulate shared with was the importance of Japan to consistently strengthen its relationship with the United States as well as the United Kingdom.  They also stressed the importance of pressuring China to be more transparent when it comes to nuclear power.  Meeting with the members of the consulate was one of the most productive part of the conference, which prepared me better for debates, and discuss hot issues in modern-international politics today.

For the remainder of the days, including Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, all day Sunday and all-day Monday we were able to be in our committee meetings.  I had the opportunity to be on the 4th Committee.  We discussed some of the crucial issues our international community faces today, including the question of Palestine, food security in conflict zones, as well as decolonization in the modern era.  When we started out by debating in what order we would like to debate and discuss the different topics, it was clear that the majority of the delegates wanted to address the question of Palestine.  We should have known better than to start with the question of Palestine, as this topic only came to a passing resolution on the last day of the conference.  A few different aspects that I specifically didn’t enjoy about the conference was how ineffective the process of the United Nations seemed to be.  I didn’t understand why so much time was needed to have unmoderated caucuses.  It seemed that the process of coming to a decision on any matter was very slow.  In general, I admire the overall goal of the United Nations.  The only way that these types of problems can be solved is by complete cooperation by all member states.  By the end of the last day, we were finally able to pass the resolution on the question of Palestine, but the resolution was not pointed towards a two-state or a one-state solution; the resolution dealt with humanitarian aid.  Representing the state of Japan, we did our best to involve our self, providing financial support for both Israelis and Palestinians.

UVU students with Slanczka Achievement Certificate

I am happy that I was able to attend the Model United Nations of the Far West conference, because it helped me understand exactly how the United Nations works, at a more specific level. I also understand exactly why it is hard for the United Nations to get things done in a timely manner, and why there are so many countries, which have a hard time supporting it, including the Russia Federation.

Nathan Erickson, Utah Valley University student



Andrew-Jensen-Reflection on the 68th session of the Far West Model United Nations



UIMF Helps UVU Students to Grow Professionally

I was recently accepted to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, for a Master’s Program in Political Violence and Terrorism and I will start my classes at that prestigious academic school in September 2018.

Trevor Williams as protocol for Ms. Mia Rowan, representative of the United Nations Mountain Partnership during the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference in October 8, 2015

My involvement with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) with focus on the promotion of the United Nations sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda has been extremely helpful for me to achieve that goal. UIMF provided me an opportunity to make connections and meet people with similar career ambitions from all around the world.  I acquired great experiences in particular during the international conference Women of the Mountains which I was able together with my other student colleagues from UIMF to host at UVU in October 2015 as a service learning and student driven initiative. At that time, I have met so many people both from Utah and abroad, who have helped greatly with useful and applicable advice and counsel. One of them, Ms. Mia Rowan, representative of the United Nations Mountain Partnership, later wrote me a recommendation letter to my graduate school. (see: In some ways, I wish that I would be able to give back more to UIMF in the ways that it has given to me.

There are a lot of issues that are pertinent to our world today in regard to the types of policies that we create and support and in particular in creating a just and fair future for our children. Global warming today is a reality to many people throughout the world without ever seeing graphs or charts and it makes communities in many parts of the world especially in mountainous areas suffer enormously and worsen their living conditions.  These types of issues can lead to geopolitical instability and the programs at UVU advocating for sustainable mountain development provide opportunities for students, through engaged learning initiatives, to become involved with the issues firsthand. I was able to learn about that in particular during the campaign when in 2015 my peers at UIMF and I collected signatures for petition to discuss how climate change impacts mountain communities during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. (See:   Many of my teachers, including Dr. Rusty Butler and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev have worked tremendously hard to provide students opportunities to build connections with people around the world and help mountain communities in particular; it has definitely paid off.

Trevor Williams with Ms. Celeste Mergens, President of Days for Girls during the International Womens Day at UVU

I have a special interest in such aspects of the SMD agenda, as strategies of poverty alleviation in mountain areas or cultural aspects of the mountain life and in the State of Utah as well. Recently with my peers I participated in the service project at UVU to assemble a hygiene kits for girls and women through the famous worldwide non-governmental organization Days for Girls (see: I had also the opportunity to write a paper on the religious significance of mountains specifically within the realm of Mormonism which will be published in the UVU undergraduate student research journal “Youth and the Mountains” this year. In many other ways, my major, Integrated Studies, has allowed me also to delve into the many similar topics covered by the different student club associations at UVU since they are politically and socially relevant.

Anyone looking to advance career opportunities or simply help out with imminent current events that affect people across the globe and especially in the mountain areas can find that opportunity at UVU through the programs administered by the members of UIMF with focus on the mountains. (see for more information at:  I would strongly recommend anyone to get involved in those activities to expand their career horizons.

Trevor Williams, Utah Valley University student

WorldQuest Competition 2018 at Westminster University

Students at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to participate for the second time in Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy’s (UCCD) WorldQuest Competition at Westminster University in Salt Lake City on April 13, 2018. UCCD is an organization that helps to build ties between citizens in Utah and citizens of the international community by encouraging cooperation and learning about other countries in the international realm of politics. The competition involved several rounds of international questions that involved a variety of topics. Each round was a process of 5 rounds of 10 questions each that involved a different topic on international relations.

Utah Valley University team during the competition at Westminster University

First, the competition was on food security and involved a variety of questions on which nations were prone to security, why food security is an evolving problem, and finally what technologies and organizations have affected food security in the international community. The Organization of American States was the next discussed topic with questions on who was the leader, what countries form part of such organizations, and finally, effects of the policy positions on the organization. The next topic was the topic of great decisions, touching on topics such as policy decisions, world leaders, and major world events. Next, was the section on international trade and finance, which dealt with the variety of international trade relations that determine the current global actors and interactions in the world.

Finally, the last topic was on privacy in the Digital Age, a topic that touched on many of the policy positions of different countries in the Digital Age.

Overall, the competition was exciting and provided an opportunity for UVU students to demonstrate our comprehensive understanding and evaluation of topics on international relations. It was an important example of student engaged learning that promotes learning outside of the classroom. I enjoyed the opportunity to apply many of the topics that I learned in the classes on international relations and sustainable development.

Andrew Jensen, Utah Valley University student



Jessica Jones-WorldQuest Trivia