UIMF Hosts Utah High School Essay Contest on Family Farming

Fourth Utah High School Essay Contest on Family Farming Hosted by the UIMF

ff1 The Utah International Mountain Forum’s (UIMF) most recent project was the annual essay contest based on U.N. yearly themes. This year the theme was ‘Family Farming’. Family farming is a topic close to the heart of the UIMF, due its importance in Utah culture. According to the U.N.’s website on the International Year of Family Farming, the topic has significant implications globally. Family farming is key to world food security; it allows for agricultural, diet, and biological diversity, and sustains local economies for communities throughout the world.

ff2 Orem Public Library, UIMF traditional partner to host Utah high school essay contests

The essays came from a number of Utah High Schools.  The contest has been steadily growing each year that UIMF has held it with the support of the Mountain Partnership, Utah Valley University (UVU), and the Orem Public Library. Dozens of members of the UIMF and students at UVU helped make this contest possible. Joseph McCain, President of the UIMF, organized the students in their efforts. These students contacted schools throughout Utah, and spoke with dozens of students themselves to promote the essay contest. As a tradition Dr. Keith Snedegar, a professor in History and Political Science Department, chaired the committee, judging essays and advising student activities during all stages of the essay contest.

The contestants wrote on topics ranging from the impact of industrial farming to urban gardens (as they relate to family farming). Compelling arguments were made by young people from all over Utah, showing that these students have a keen awareness of major issues regarding farming and food.  A general theme of the importance of family farms, despite the tide of factory farms, ran throughout the contest.

ff3 Brayten Torsak from Provo High School won the first prize

 Brayten Torsak won this year with his essay on urban agriculture. Torsak made a strong argument for the feasibility of easing world hunger through small family based urban gardens. Miranda Fisher from Copper Hills High School and Melody Hatcher from Salem Hills High School came in second and third place respectively.

All winners received monetary prizes in addition to being awarded with special certificates signed by the members of the organizing committee under the leading role of Dr. Rusty Butler Associated Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy and the focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU. In addition their essay will be included in the second volume of ‘Youth in the Mountains,’ a recently created journal for students research papers. Its first volume was inaugurated during the Fourth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey on September 18, 2013.

The night of the awards ceremony held at the Orem Public Library allowed for the students to make presentations regarding their essays. Those in attendance were allowed to ask questions of the presenters. This was a productive element of the competition, as the students were challenged at certain times to defend their positions and further explain the arguments made in their papers. In general, this essay contest gave opportunities to the students that they otherwise would not have had.

ff4Audience at the Orem Public Library

 The UIMF’s goal has been to work towards greater community and academic engagement. The essay competition was an effective tool in furthering these efforts. Not only were people from throughout Utah able to participate but students with different academic backgrounds from UVU all played integral roles in the process of making this competition successful.

 Christopher Wiltsie, Vice President of UIMF, President of the Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU 

Event Schedule:


Organizing Committee 

Prize Winners:

First Place – Brayten Torsak – Provo High School

“Brayten Torsak”

Second Place – Maranda Fisher – Copper Hills High School

“No Food”

Third Place – Melody Hatcher – Salem Hills High School

“Growing Population”

Submitted Essay’s:

Katie Barber “The Intermountain West’s Condensing Farm Culture”

Lorilie Spegar “Essay”

Madeline Gardner “The Affects of Factory Farming on Society”

Morgan Wykstra “Mountainous Farmer Seed Availability”

Samantha Hawkins “Would Integrating the Terrace Method be Beneficial to Utah Farming?”

Alley Meredith “Border Cattle Industry”

Gus Keetch “Traditional Vaquero Stockmanship VS. Modern Handling Techniques”

Jenny Breedlove “We’re the American Farmer and We’re Here to Stay”

Swasey Bliss “Family vs. Industrial Farming”

Savanna Martinson “Family Farming vs. Industrial Farming”

Sakia Brost “Family Farming”

Kylee Beckstead “Essay”

Tiffany Anderson “The New Predator”

Wyatt Davis “First Year Farmer”

UVU Student Thoughts About Contest 


Greetings from VIP’s:


14-04-14-UVU letterhead 2014-04 high schools-CORR

UVU Press Release






Sustainable Mountain Development Promotion by UIMF During 2013

Presenting UIMF Achievements During 2013 at the UVU’s Engagement Week

Utah Valley University’s Engagement Week which took place during March 24-26, 2014 gathered a variety projects pursued by UVU faculty and students with a focus on engaged learning activities, locally and globally based.   It was an opportunity to showcase the projects that Utah International Mountain Forum’s (UIMF) and its associated clubs have been involved in over the past year. UIMF presented through two formats at this conference.

First, Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, faculty from the History and Political Science Department and one of the advisors of the UIMF, myself and Joseph McCain, President of UIMF,   presented two specially designed  posters about major activities and achievements of UIMF throughout 2013 on the morning of March 24, 2014 to all interested individuals and groups.


(Left to right) Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, advisor of the UIMF, myself and Joseph McCain, President of UIMF presenting poster during the Engagement Week event at UVU

These activities included the UIMF delegation contribution to the agenda of the the fourth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey in September 2013, participation at the meeting of the Mountain Focus Group at the United Nations in New York in October 2013, hosting the International Mountain Day declared by the United Nations during December 5-11, 2013 in Orem, Utah, and the third Utah high school essay contest on the topics of clean water on March 28, 2013 in Orem, Utah, among many others. In addition to posters, UIMF brochures were distributed and the newly published first volume of the journal with students research papers titles “Youth and the mountains”. This was a successful avenue for promoting the club on campus through the raising of awareness of the UIMF’s activities among the faculty and students of UVU. It also served as an effective recruitment tool as one of the current aims of the UIMF is to bring a more diverse range of students and clubs into its coalition in order to more effectively achieve goals of the mountain cause promotion as a campus through united efforts.


Copies of the “Youth and the Mountains” journal of student research papers distributed during the Engagement week presentations

 UIMF team was also invited to make an oral presentation during the same day on March 24, 2014. It included a panel of individuals involved in the UIMF’s projects: two UIMF advisors, Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev and Professor Keith Snedegar, Joseph McCain, President of UIMF, and myself. The presentation focused on the engagement of the students in the promotion of the United Nations sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda as a result of UIMF’s activities. Each member of the panel had a chance to speak about their own involvement in the club’s activities. Cash prizes were awarded to audience members for correct answers posed by the panel members. In addition the audience was given time to ask questions

Professor Snedegar spoke on his involvement in judging the essays for the third Utah high school essay contest held in March, 2013 on the topic of the U.N.-declared International Year of Fresh Water and the preparations for the upcoming presentation of essays by the students for the fourth Utah high school essay contest on the topic of the International Year of Family Farming on March 28, 2014. Professor Snedegar emphasized that the yearly essay contests, co-hosted by two Mountain Partnership members, UVU and the City of Orem in cooperation with the Orem Public Library, have become a great tool to raise an awareness among Utah youth in Sustainable Mountain Development(SMD)-activities and to identify among them new leaders in SMD-advocacy both in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.  Dr. Abdrisaev spoke on the significance of the UIMF as internationally recognized university based student run organizations focused on issues affecting mountainous regions, having done much of its work in conjunction with the United Nations SMD-agenda. The student portion of the panel including Joseph McCain and myself were able to give unique perspectives on the impact that the UIMF has had on students education and ability to be engaged in the promotion of the SMD-activities both locally, during the events such as the International Mountain Day celebrations and globally, as was done, for example, during the internship at the United Nations by Joseph McCain, or during participation at the meetings of the Mountain Partnerships, which allowed them to contribute to the U.N. agendas in practical ways. 

Members of the panel also spoke about future plans of UIMF and focused on hosting the fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference at UVU during October 7-9, 2015. They invited the audience to contribute to the agenda of the conference and distributed a call for papers among present faculty and students. 

 UIMF is constantly looking for ways to more effectively work within the campus on issues that the students find significant, ranging from protocol, professional growth, to building connections with powerful people and institutions around the world. These continuing efforts have involved a wide range of students and faculty as illustrated by the joint contribution from members of UIMF and UVU’s ROTC for the ongoing current activities of the UIMF, including the hosting of Dr. Kangas, Academic Dean from the National Defense University, Washington, D.C., during February 25-28, 2014 and the involvement of professors from departments ranging from history to mathematics in numerous projects, etc. The presentations made at engagement week were geared towards further pursuing these objectives.

 Christopher Wiltsie, President of the Sustainable Mountain Development 





“Detailed Schedule of the Engagement Week”: http://www.uvu.edu/sei/docs/engagement_week.pdf

Promoting Sustainable Mountain Development as an Intern at the United Nations

Promoting Sustainable Mountain Development as an Intern at the United Nations

From September 1st to December 20th, 2013 in a collaborative effort between Utah Valley University (UVU), the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, and the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, I had the opportunity to work at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York; it was the first ever internship for a UVU student at the UN under the sponsorship of the Kyrgyz Republic. There I had the chance to meet with some really interesting people. I was also fortunate enough to work with some of them on issues ranging from transportation to education.

UNI1Myself with Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov in his office

Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov, from the very beginning, set for me a pace that was challenging and yet rewarding. Working at the UN and with his staff was like nothing I had anticipated or been informed about. When one usually thinks of an internship one thinks of answering calls, making copies, and running errands, at least that is how I imagined it and how friends had described it. This wasn’t the case at the UN. The day after arriving I was immediately immersed in working on Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) issues, when Ambassador Kydyrov asked me to prepare an overview of that issue and its importance for the overall UN sustainable development agenda. Reading everything I could about SMD, its history, its purpose, and reading proposals on its future provided the backbone of my first paper, which was focused on the issue of water degradation. It was a critical comparison between current sustainable water practices in developing countries and what is currently being done in New York State and the Watershed Agricultural Council. It was paramount that the issue of water be considered, along with the cost of financing sustainable development in a State which is otherwise not concerned.

UNI2 Myself with the Kyrgyz Republic’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Abdyldaev.

The issue of finance led to my second paper, this one being on the cost of living in New York City/State compared to the European Union and the Kyrgyz Republic. It was important that I try and draw correlations between these three economic bodies. The first two provided interesting bench markers between the growths of each country’s economy to the length of the existence of the state. I tried to draw connections between the two to better distinguish and provide parameters for growth in the Kyrgyz Republic. Doing this required much research and contacting such agencies as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in the United States.

All this was done in a relatively short time. Really it took about two weeks. I know this because I finished working on these particular issues right around the opening ceremony of the 68th session of the General Assembly. This was a very interesting time to be in New York. The streets around the UN were barricaded off by the local police departments and just to get to the gates surrounding the UN I had to go through checkpoints and have my identification card at the ready at all times. While I did not get to meet President Obama, I was able to meet with the Kyrgyz Republic’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Erlan Abdyldaev. With his coming to the UN and meeting the Kyrgyz Republic’s staffers, things at the office were very busy and it seemed like all work/research was put on hold for this one week out of the entire year.


From right to left: Myself, Jesler Molina, and Carlos Alarco

It wasn’t at all as bad as I might be making it seem. I was given the unique opportunity to assist with the press conference that the Ambassador and the Minister of Foreign Affairs participated in. This was really the first time that I felt like I was an intern. Carrying equipment around and escorting individuals to the press room was an interesting experience.

 Around this time, my colleagues from the UIMF Jesler Molina, Carlos Alarco, and Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU Dr. Rusty Butler came to the U.N. headquarters from Utah to give a presentation and attend some of the events taking place due to the Opening Ceremony. It was great to have the three of them around for a day or two. They were able to experience a little of what I had, by this time, experienced a lot of.

 It wasn’t too much later that I got to attend another high-level meeting of governmental officials from different mountain states at a Mountain Focus Group meeting which focused on uniting efforts of the mountain nations in order to make sure that an SMD-agenda will be included to the general sustainable agenda of the United Nations after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals, as bench marks for the evaluating of human progress in 2015.   During that gathering, which took place on October 17, 2013, I was able to meet the Permanent Representative of Italy Sabastiano Cadri, among others; it didn’t hurt that the event was taking place at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations. Ambassador Cadri gave a great introductory speech on the purpose of the meeting and I was able to get in a quick work with him before he had to leave. At this meeting, I was fortunate enough to have gone as a representative of UVU, the UIMF, and a personal intern to the Ambassador Kydyrov. I have had friends who have snuck into high-level meetings before, but never invited as actual guests. This is yet another example, in my opinion, of the importance of UN internships and continued collaboration between UVU and the Kyrgyz Republic. Meeting with Representatives of State is a singular experience for us interns.

UNI4 During the Mountain Focus Group Meeting From right to left: Mia Rowan, representative of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat in Rome, Italy,Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov and myself.

One of my last and possibly most interesting experiences was a high-level plenary session in which new non-permanent members of the Security Council were recommended, voted on, and ratified. This experience was interesting to me because of the incredible lack of decorum after a member state was elected. Of particular interest to me was the reactions of both countries Rwanda and Nigeria. Both delegations actually jumped out of their chairs and cheered at the top of their lungs with joy as they were made non-permanent members. There was of course the polite clapping of other countries to show their enthusiasm. For me though, it was the uncontrolled excitement that these two countries showed that I found to be of particular interest.

Getting to meet and take pictures with John W. Ashe, President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly, and working with the Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov on a daily, weekly, monthly basis were incredibly important memories of mine. But it was the dedication of those that I worked with that has left the most permanent of impacts on my life. Watching them race against the clock as they worked on resolution after resolution, case after case, time after time, was inspiring. I saw individuals working their hardest to improve the lives of their countrymen and the lives of those citizens of other countries who corroborated on resolutions. It is a singular experience that I recommend to any person and every political science intern.

 For more information about my internship see my personal blog: uninternship2013.blogspot.com

 Joseph McCain, President, Utah International Mountain Forum 

14-03-16-Digital Copy of Letter of Appreciation

Celebrating International Women’s Day at UVU


UVU Hosts Body Image Experts For International Women’s Day Events


February 28, 2014

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Melinda Colton

Written by: Heather Wrigley

On March 7, Utah Valley University will host “Beauty Redefined,” a celebration of International Women’s Day, with two sessions featuring keynote addresses by inspiring speakers, entertainment by international dancers and food.

“International Women’s Day is a special day in which we celebrate women,” said Marie Poudiougou, an assistant at the UVU International Affairs & Diplomacy Office. “It is all about empowering women, recognize their efforts in making this world a better place, recognizing their beauty both inside and outside.”

The first session will take place from noon to 2 p.m. at UVU Centre Stage, centrally located on the main floor of the Sorensen Student Center. It will include a short lecture on body image, which will be followed by a presentation from the UVU Women of Science Club and an award ceremony. Free lunch will be provided.

The second session will be from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. It will consist of a presentation by the main speakers Lindsay and Lexie Kite, two sisters who earned their doctoral degrees in the study of media and body image from the University of Utah. “Beauty Redefined” represents their not-for-profit work through the Beauty Redefined Foundation to take back beauty for girls and women everywhere through continuing the discussion about body image, women’s potential and media influence. Their one-hour visual presentation on recognizing and rejecting harmful media ideals about beauty and health has been presented to thousands of people across the state of Utah and beyond since March 2009. They will offer their keynote in the UVU Grande Ballroom, in the Sorensen Student Center.

Their address will be followed by a short presentation from international students and performances by Polynesian, African, Japanese and Mongolian dancers. The event will end with international appetizers.

Both sessions are free of charge. Tickets are available at UVU’s Campus Connection, or by contacting Marie Poudiougou at 801-472-8769 or mariep@uvu.edu.

International Women Day: Beauty Redefined


Friday March 7th

Grand Ballroom

Host: Marie/Liz

5: 00 pm                    Set up: Making sure everything is good to go. Projector, PowerPoint, Microphone, Water for the Speakers…..

5: 45                            Music -Japanese instrument/ People arrival and International appetizers

6: 00                           Opening Remarks by Marie Poudiougou, President of the Foreign Affairs Club, Chair Assistant of the International Student Council.

6:05                            Performance: Best Afrodancer, A group of African Dancer from the Republic of Congo

6: 20                           Address of the International Students, Jawahir Ahmed and Tamara Harutyunova, International aspect/Views of beauty

6:40                            Introduction of Lindsay Kite and Lexie Kite by Elizabeth Jarema, Executive Vice President, UVU Student Association.

6: 45                           Address of Lindsay Kite and Lexie Kite, PhDs in the study of media and body image.

7: 30                           Performance: the Polynesian dancer, Multicultural Dancer

7: 45                           Address of the International Students Eri Hyward-Japan,  Paola Rondon- Venezuela,  International aspect/Views of beauty

8: 10                           Performance: Mongolian Dancer, traditional dance by a UVU student

8: 15                           Closing remarks by Anne Wairepo, Director of the Women Success Center

8: 20                           Prices, by UVUSA election winner

8:30                            End of event


UIMF Hosts Dignitary From The National Defense University

UIMF Hosts Dignitary From The National Defense University


February 26, 2014

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Melinda Colton

The Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University, will host Roger Kangas, a prominent U.S. expert on Afghanistan and Central Asian affairs, as he visits the campus this week. Kangas will present “Post-2014 Afghanistan” on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m. in Sorensen Student Center, room 213b. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Kangas is the academic dean and a professor of Asian studies in the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He was an adviser to the Combatant Commands, NATO/ISAF, and contributed to the promotion of political and economic reforms in Eurasia as a representative of the National Democratic Institute, American Councils for International Education, USAID and many other U.S. government agencies.

This visit of a dignitary from Washington, D.C., represents just one example of the UIMF’s approach to UVU’s student involvement in community engagement learning, on national and international levels. Members of the UIMF arranged the entire visit, which allows them to gain important professional skills and knowledge in protocol, logistics, building relationships and networking.

While at UVU, Kangas will discuss areas of possible joint cooperation between his institution and UVU, including a UVU initiative to promote a sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations as a basis for working with Central Asia.

Kangas will also discuss his professional experiences as well as possible tips for studentsinterested in international relations and security matters. He will also visit the ROTC headquarters at UVU and have lunch with cadets.

“This visit by Dr. Kangas gives many of our students a unique chance to gain great professional experiences and knowledge,” said Anton Koshelev, UVU student and vice president of the UIMF. “And at the same time we get a chance to share with him many interesting initiatives and projects advocated by the UIMF and UVU, on an international level in the region of Central Asia and Eurasia.”

UVU’s Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy, Department of History and Political Science and the Center for Constitutional Studies provided funding for Kangas’ visit.


UVU Student’s Experience in Hosting a VIP-guest

Look at clubs across the U.S. and you will find a seemingly infinite number of them. Some have power to decide what direction the school may take; others are for entertainment and provide at least a little preparation for the future. Being a member of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University, I have found that this particular set of clubs has a focus is on furthering the professional abilities of the students within.

It was evident, when we hosted Dr. Roger Kangas, the Dean and Professor of Central Asian Studies for the Near East South Asia Center, at the National Defense University, Washington, D.C. during March 25-28, 2014 and I was given the pleasure to work with my UIMF colleagues in this three day event. Because of the connection of our VIP guest to Pentagon,  I was asked by the student organizing committee to accompany him during his entire visit as a protocol by wearing my military uniform. In doing so, I have learned that this coalition of clubs creates activities that are planned meticulously and executed by students. From such events the students learn vital skills communication and given leadership opportunities that are not only beneficial for the club, but can be further translated to uses in his/her future career.

Dr. Kangas’ visit was most beneficial to the students planning it. Immediately when we learned of the visit, fellow UIMF members delegated responsibilities. Some of my student colleagues were responsible for logistics, by arranging for our guest transportation, and accommodation, some – for media coverage and, for example, my friend Sam Siebach dealt with a video-coverage. And Anton Koshelev, President of Alexander Hamilton Society, who coordinated effort of all students, provided transportation to and from the airport.

dk1 (Right to left) myself with Dr. Kanga and Cadet Martin

I was also tasked with coordinating between the UIMF and the university’s ROTC program in hosting a luncheon for our guest with participation of cadets, many among whom made tours to Afghanistan. My first reaction was an avalanche of thoughts and uncertainties. Do we go off campus? Who pays for the meal? There were so many possibilities that the openness of options seemed to paralyze action at the start. The task would be done but would not have the desired finished product if it were not for my lesson in coordinating. As a student I have learned that when given a duty, it is better to cross coordinate with others that might have strong connections to desired institutions, than to simply carry it out on my own. Thus when told to create a lunch event, I found it acceptable to break it down and further delegate specific logistics to those with connections within the university’s catering service and venue experts to ultimately achieve the desired effect of the lunch. I was so happy that lunch went well and its hosts from ROTC, Maj. Owens and Cadet Jeremy Duty were able to successfully play their role and also to have a very productive and successful conversation. Dr. Kangas shared his thoughts about situation in Afghanistan after withdrawal of the U.S. troops this year and questions from the audience demonstrated that many cadets in the audience were quite concerned  by the further worsening of situation in that country and challenges for the United States to stabilize their situation due to a growing insurgency after 2015.

dk2 Dr. Kangas with cadets after lunch at UVU

 These thoughts were a sneak peek into his main presentation on Afghanistan which came the next day. All of us watch the news and see the struggle Afghanistan faces. But those reports we see on T.V. are solely focused on issues within Afghanistan and maybe effects from decisions of its neighbor, Pakistan. Dr. Kangas is an expert on that entire central Asian region and brought to light issues and solutions from those countries many Americans might not know even exist. For example he made a solid point about how in the future the military supply highways will become the “new silk road.” Creating possibilities even after a troop withdrawal, Afghanistan will be well connected to sustain commerce. And countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will now help play a regional support roll in sustaining growth. This presentation (in addition to organizing the flag ceremony and other logistics behind it), has provided me with multiple perspectives. Traditional media sources would not be able to offer this.

dk3Elizabeth Goryunova (second from right) presents a gift to Dr. Kangas in presenceof myself and Anton Koshelev (L)

 As I was working as an escort for Dr. Kangas, just being in the vicinity of conversations, I learned how the framework is created from a club with an idea, to creating action. No example would stand out other than going to the World Trade Center in Salt Lake City. We met with the Interim President and CEO Mrs. Elizabeth Goryunova. After a brief talk on events throughout the central Asian region and the exchange of business cards, Mrs. Goryunova extended an invitation to Dr. Kangas to a gathering of prominent Middle East ambassadors. The gesture of openness caused seemed to cause a reciprocal action where Dr. Kangas offered “With sufficient time for notice” have visitors to D.C. make a stop in Utah. I saw firsthand how a simple meeting between two well-connected professionals can create benefits for all parties involved. And if there is anything for current and future UIMF members to take away is that networking is the vital veins and arteries to any operation.


Anton Koshelev (L) and myself ( R ) with Dr. Kangas ( C ) in Park City, UT

A key aspect of the UIMF is that students are playing every role in hosting presentations. Members within the leadership head gain experience by the delegation of tasks to the upbringing of a successful event. And to those completing the tasks; learn valuable networking and communication skills, all to our own benefit and to further increase our efficiency of pushing the UIMF agenda.

Matthew Rands, Vice-President of the Sustainable Mountain development Club

Dr. Roger Kangas on Afghanistan and Central Asia

I had the pleasure of attending a short one hour session to hear Dr. Kangas talk about the current political environmental of Central Asia and specifically Afghanistan. Afghanistan currently faces an especially tumultuous time as the United States winds down its military operations there and looks to pull out. The widespread political, social, and cultural upheaval Afghanistan has experienced this past decade and a half will undoubtedly shape the Afghanistan we will see in the future. To gauge just how much Afghanistan has been razed and changed Dr. Kangas mentioned how it is not just being rebuilt, it’s being built.

kangas1 Dr. Roger Kangas during his presentation at UVU

Dozens of countries have been involved in Afghanistan, from providing security forces to humanitarian forces. The sheer number of interested parties indicates the importance of Afghanistan to the Central Asian region. Currently, the mission of the United States is maintenance, not expansion or conquest. The US is seeking stability and consistency in the civic side of Afghanistan, a sharp refocusing of attention and manpower from militaristic actions even a year ago. From 2001 to 2014, the mission and goals of a US occupation and military presence shifted and changed, evolved and fluxed. It was, as Dr. Kangas stated, “an era of changing missions.”


UVU faculty and students at Dr. Kangas presentation about Afghanistan

Furthermore, as Afghanistan enters a heated stage with multiple countries such as Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and China, the US has increasing concern for how those states will act in relationship to one another. China is especially concerned with cyber security threats from terrorist groups located in Afghanistan.

Prior to this lecture, I had little knowledge or concern for the happenings of the Middle East, particularly Afghanistan. I am in the military so I have had a little exposure to the events transpiring in Afghanistan via military news. However, I did not know about the political or social situation that Afghanistan now wrestles with. Moreover, I did not know just how many times the mission has changed for the military in Afghanistan. I remembered that the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan under the pretense of weapons of mass destruction and terror cells, but I had not kept up with the evolving mission of the US military occupation.

What interests me the most is the political situation of Afghanistan in conjunction with other countries. To me, Central Asia looks much like a chessboard in the sense that many pieces are moving, attempting to gain power, and maneuvering towards a secure future. Each country has very real priorities of securing boarders, widening purview, and ensuring a flow of resources to further economic development. Furthermore, each nearby country has a legitimate fear of terrorist cells moving from Afghanistan to within their borders. Should neighboring countries prioritize securing Afghanistan’s borders or their own borders? Pakistan was especially embarrassed because it housed Osama Bin Laden without governmental knowledge.

Power plays intrigue me as well. While I think a lot about individual maneuvers to attain power and the ascendency of some individuals, that kind of maneuvering on the state level astonishes me. Leaders of powerful states have to look at their own position in relation to the position of neighboring states and make strategic decisions about which plans to execute, what words to say, what policies to enact, and what course of action will best benefit their country.

William Ng, student of UVU 

Leading expert on Afghanistan at UVU Campus

Dr. Roger Kangas’s lecture addressed Afghanistan and the future of that county in the surrounding region. To understand the current condition of Afghanistan, one must understand the events that have contributed to its reformation. After 2001, the United States’ mission was to eliminate Al-Qaeda and other branch groups like the Taliban through military action. The crusade to eradicate terror in Afghanistan was quickly won. Unfortunately the conflict had caused most remnant groups to retreat into Iraq and since then efforts have been made to free Iraq from these groups. Afghanistan is not currently the main focus of the War on Terror but it was the first country that was impacted.


From 2001 to the present, countries from around the world had to re-evaluate their policies toward Afghanistan in terms of humanitarian aid, educational aid, political aid, etc… Thus far all efforts in Afghanistan have not been to rebuild Afghanistan but rather to build a new Afghanistan. For the United States, 2014 is an important year because President Obama has issued an order calling for the complete removal of American military in Afghanistan. In addition, the focus for this year in Afghanistan will be on transportation. Due to the fact that Afghanistan is a landlocked region, transport for trucks, trains, aircrafts as well as access to water are the main concern. These transportation routes reach countries like Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and many others. It is a multifaceted system of various transportation methods. If efforts in Afghanistan are successful in implementing these transportation methods these routes will become a modern day Silk Road. This is especially important because of past tensions between Afghanistan and surrounding actors. Because of the instability in the region it is believed that there will always be some outside presence to help maintain order. This integrated transportation system will open Afghanistan up to the rest of the world and connect them to other countries in their region.


Dr. Kangas with members of Utah International Mountain Forum, hosts of his visit to UVU

There are various conflicts of interest in this setting that might influence the success of failure of these programs in Afghanistan. These different interests do not come only from inside Afghanistan but also from surrounding countries. In Pakistan there are agendas to control Afghanistan and secure the power foundation in their own country through security measures. In both Pakistan and Afghanistan there are different ethnic groups who are in constant conflict. In Iran there are controversial interests that include trade with Afghanistan and support for the Taliban. In Russia their interests include containment of threats from their southern border and their self image of being a country with great power. In China their concern is the presence of “non-hemispheric powers” and Uyghur separatists. Each country has a solution for their problems through separate organizations that involve alliances with surrounding countries with similar interests. These are but some of the issues that surround Afghanistan’s transportation system and whether or not Afghanistan succeeds or fails there will be repercussions throughout the area.

As complex as these situations appear, the outlook is optimistic. Afghanistan has made great progress in becoming a stable country and further investment into Afghanistan will be beneficial to Afghanistan, the region, and the rest of the world.

Arisha Franco, UVU student 

Presentation Link:


4th Annual Essay Contest For Utah High Schools on Family Farming

Back in 2011, Utah Valley University hosted the first ever Utah high school ‘Youth and the Mountains’ essay contest. This contest focused on academic research and introduced the importance of Sustainable Development. From its conception, the essay contest has been a great asset to the academic community and has helped to introduce young adults to their surroundings.

With topics ranging from women of the mountains to energy, essay contestants have dealt with and postulated solutions for important socio-economic factors being discussed and improved upon globally. The relevance of which should not be lost or ignored.

Utah Valley University’s essay contest provides a firm foundation for the next generation of leaders; to create new ideas and promote innovative thinking. This says nothing of the $300 cash prize for first place; a much appreciated bonus for one of these students.

This year’s contest, being held March 28th, will be drawing from an ever expanding pool of high schools and the competition will be fiercer than ever. The topic of this year’s contest is, ‘The Family Farm in Mountain Communities’. The topic draws from the important work that is being done globally to end world hunger and promote more sustainable farming practices. It is also the topic of discussion for this year’s 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Students draw from Utah’s rich cultural and religious history to provide a unique perspective on sustainable development. Previous submissions have proposed alternative means of development and have done much to inform others of dangerous materials, working conditions, and poorly constructed policy making at the government level.


Of true significance is not the cash prizes or the publication of those papers written but the positive influence and introduction of policy making which this essay contest promotes. Students are able to research effective and ineffective decisions made by government officials and provide insights from a different perspective. Additionally, students learn more about their history and culture, promoting activism to the future leaders and makers of change.

A great source for inspiration and a resource which should not be overlooked is Utah’s culture and history. Coming to this, at the time, desert state Utah’s settlers had to introduce new farming methods and agricultural techniques. This same level of intuitiveness and creativity has been applied to the previous essay contests. It will be no surprise to witness such ingenuity in the coming contest.

The schools being represented will not only be showcasing the quality of their students and the efficacy of their instructors, but the idea that there is still much that can be done to promote change and that it is never too early, or late, to start. Likewise, the students will not be simply writing words down on a piece of paper. These research papers are the end product of a desire to make the world, whether that be personal or global, a better place.

Joseph McCain, President of UIMF 

Dr. Roger Kangas on “Post-2014 Afghanistan”

Utah Valley Student Clubs Host Dr. Roger Kangas, Expert on Afghanistan and Central Asia

From February 25th-28th Utah Valley University students will continue its established tradition of hosting respected dignitaries. The guest of honor will be Dr. Roger Kangas, one of the leading U.S. experts on Afghanistan and Central Asia. His visit is made possible through the efforts of students. The students themselves took care of all of the aspects related to Dr. Kangas’s visit: protocol, logistics, funds, etc

Dr. Kangas is currently the Academic Dean and a Professor of Central Asian Studies at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at National Defense University. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. Previously Dr. Kangas served as a Professor of Central Asian Studies at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Deputy Director of the Central Asian Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC; Central Asian Course Coordinator at the Foreign Service Institute for the U.S. Department of State; and as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Mississippi. Outside of Academia Dr. Kangas has been an advisor to the Combatant Commands, NATO/ISAF, the US Air Force Special Operations School, National Democratic Institute, USAID, and other US government agencies.   Dr. Kangas holds a B.S.F.S. in Comparative Politics from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University.

On February 27th, 2014 at 10:00am Dr. Kangas will address a general audience at UVU in the Student Center room 213b. His remarks will be focused on Afghanistan Post-2014. At 6:30 in the evening on the 27th Dr. Kangas will also speak to faculty and students of the Center for Constitutional Studies at UVU. His time at UVU also includes meetings with faculty and students with the aim of developing mutually beneficial cooperation in research and establishing exchanges between UVU, National Defense University, and interested partners in Central Asia. Dr. Kangas will meet ROTC and Utah National Guard representatives paying particular attention those who served tours to Afghanistan.

Dr. Kangas’ visit to UVU is a part of an initiative at the University to establish and strengthen ties between Utah, UVU, and Central Asia. This ongoing partnership has included a large number of exchange visits between UVU faculty and students, legislative groups from Utah and Central Asian nations, and experts in the field of Central Asian studies. Recently UVU hosted a number of groups from Central Asia which included a delegation from Kyrgyzstan. This spring a legislative group from Utah is planning to pay a visit to both Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.

This is a great opportunity to hear from one of the preeminent sources on Central Asian Studies. Dr. Kangas brings years of pragmatic experience in the field as well as a solid academic base and will be sharing some of his experiences with the students at UVU. The event will be highly interesting and educational. Dr. Kangas will be able to share his expert opinion and analysis in regards to the role of the United States in an increasingly tenuous situation in Afghanistan and what the future holds for the Afghan people.

Dr. Kangas

Dr. Roger Kangas, an Academic Dean and a professor at the U.S. National Defense University’s Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, September 03, 2010

At the same time, this visit will allow members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU to build close relationships with a great scholar and expert, to improve their professional skills in handling protocol, logistics and other important parts of diplomacy.

Financial support for the visit of Dr. Roger Kangas was provided by the Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy, Department of History and Political Science and the Center for Constitutional Studies at UVU.

Andrew Allen, member of UIMF 


Agenda and Organizing Committee  




Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-03) Speaks on Why Benghazi Matters


Why Benghazi matters

 Graham Miller, UVU student with Major in Political Science 

Congressman Jason Chaffetz in his presentation on Benghazi had several objectives to portray and solidify in the minds of those who were present. I will discuss these points influenced by his opinion, then try and relate these to the terms and trends learned in the previous sections we have learned. Rep. Chaffetz approach on presenting was to provide a very simple outline of the events that occurred in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. He explores the ‘before’, ‘during’, and ‘after’, putting specific blame on the United States government for their lack of response to the situation which would result in 4 U.S. citizens being killed in the terrorist attack, which he believed could very easily been avoided.

Using the method of historical analysis Rep. Chaffetz explained the political climate of Benghazi, and why it was at it’s current state of being through specific events. For example the United States helped N.A.T.O. to clean up the area of Benghazi, Libya a few years prior to the event through a military operation that would grant them the space needed to build an “Embassy” there. However once this embassy was erected, it would prove to be the target to 2 different terrorist attacks before the most devastating in September of 2012. Of these two attacks Rep. Chaffetz mentioned the lack of security, personnel, and follow-up on these attacks that were given. In fact, there was none. Alarmingly enough, there were also 2 separate attacks inflicted upon the Ambassador of Britain to Libya, and the Red Cross office. The difference, however, is that those separate attacks were clear enough signs of the unsafe conditions that they left. The United States would stay right where they were which would lead us to the fateful attack early in the morning on September 11, 2012.

Rep. Chaffetz being slightly short on time, and wanting to send home the main point was unable to go into profound detail of the event itself. He was however very keen on mentioning a few very important points he believed could have saved these people. The fact that there were multiple military bases in the proximity of an hour or so, and the response of relief took more than the amount of time it would for us, here in Orem, Utah to arrive to Benghazi. Not to mention that the attack itself was very brutal and that the establishment itself did not meet up to previously set regulations by the United States. We see with this attack which was premeditated by the Al Qaeda, is a clear witness of the radical hatred towards the United States as well as Christians.

Rep. Chaffetz was also quite upset with the aftermath of this event and with those feelings comes his main point, to make this known to the public. He wants justice to be served. The Obama administration has reacted to this event by simply saying it was not their fault, and that it was a ‘hoax’. The congressman passionately described the amount of propaganda he feels the United States is selling its citizens on this subject and others. The climax of this whole event is interestingly the lack thereof. Simply nothing has been done, and currently it looks as if Rep. Chaffetz is one of few, if not the only seeking truth and justice to be done on this matter. In light of this event, presentation, and the knowledge learned previously in our chapters of International Relations its becoming very clear the advantages of utilizing the different methods at our disposal. With a historical point of view we can draw conclusions that this was, or could have been foreseen by the already well known terrorist attacks that have come from our presence in the Middle East. To look at this from a Behavioral point of view, there was also plenty of evidence given where specific events recorded  protests of Americans even being in Libya. Thus we see that the techniques of International Relations could have played a role with the information which was given, had an acceptance by those in power, acted.

Personally, having been able to attend a presentation dealing directly with International Relations has opened my eyes to how we truly can foresee events by looking in the past, by looking at the cultural climate, and of course by watching the daily unfolding of events in a specific area. Also with how a Democracy in its modern day and age almost never is in accord with itself, causing these sorts of problems to take a longer amount of time to be acted upon and resolved.  My hope is that through continued study of current events, application of methods used in current International Relations class, I may one day be able to come to a position where I can help avoid a future problem, thanks to the tools and knowledge I’ve obtained through these studies.


An All Too Common Problem

Matthew Rand, UVU student with Major in Political  Science

When is a government bureaucracy too large and complex to handle simple tasks without a strenuous strain on resources and assets? This type of question would be one of many republican policy makers in the aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi tragedy. When U.S. government agencies start to believe their work takes precedence over those of their co-workers, they undermine the precious lines of communication within the government. Such lack of communication during precursors to the attack such as threats, a bombing at the consulate, and assassination attempts; so strong was the evidence of a danger, that it was failed to be prevented. These are just a few in over 300 documented security incidences. I am not bashing on any methods our government may use but in the words of Congressman Chaffetz in his recent visit to UVU, “Self Criticism is good for the nation.”

After the revolution and the fall of Gaddafi, Libya was ruled by militias. Not one militia but many. They consisted of non-centralized, local bands of everyday citizens taking up arms against the regime. This lack of central leadership would make perfect conditions for every militia to form its own agenda. Most may be secular but there is always room for extremists that claim they fight for Islam. Whether way some may say extremist groups were involved or not, the evidence of threats has been there the whole time. The first such occasion is a threat against Christopher Stevens. He enjoyed a morning run outside the embassy compound. Somebody seemed to take notice when his daily running route; publishing it on Facebook with a threat against him, but no extra security measures were taken.

The second incident occurred in April 2012, when a lone man detonated a bomb in the wall of the consulate compound. The damage was done and even though he was caught on camera, still no extra security was added other than local guards with Walkie-talkies. This was during a time when Clinton wanted to “normalize” foreign security by reducing U.S. troop presence and keeping a low profile with local security forces. Still after military advice from leaders such as LTC Andrew Wood to add more security, the agenda of the state department was placed before the security of its personnel.

The third instance came in June when an assignation attempt on the British ambassador in the form of a car bomb. That was the final push for the U.K. government, U.N., and Red Cross. They all pulled out of Libya as violence increased. Suggestions were made over and over again to the state department for the U.S. to withdraw, but the ultimate decision was made to stay.

The only time when one U.S. government agency not listening to another actually worked was during the attack; When U.S. Navy Seals near the site responded to help fend off attackers. They do not respond to the State department but which freed them from any state protocol for defending.

We can see that the lack of communication can inhibit tragedy prevention but the real problem comes today as fingers are being pointed of whom is at fault and contradicting broadcasts of a “planned” vs “spontaneous attack.” And If the U.S. wants to make better foreign relations then they need to form stronger relations within themselves between agencies.


UVU Delegation participates in Open Working Group Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations


A Delegation from Utah Valley University (UVU) as a part of established tradition visited the United Nations, in New York during December 9-11, 2013. It participated in the Sixth session of the Open Working Group Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals, under the accreditation of the mission of Hungary at the United Nations, one of the Co-Chairs of the meeting, the other being Kenya. The members of the delegation included Dr. Rusty Butler (Associate Vice President International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU), Dr. Brian Birch (Associate Vice President – Engaged Learning at UVU), Carlos Alarco (Educational Technologist and representative of UIMF (Utah International Mountain Forum), a coalition of student clubs at UVU) and Jesler Molina (International Student Council Chair, Model UN President at UVU, and representative of UIMF).

During the 3 days the delegation heard informative and insightful opinions by delegates from across the globe, as well as numerous civil society groups, all working together to come up with targets and goals that would comprise the Sustainable Development Goals for the post 2015 agenda. The meetings held during these 5 days were critical as it allowed delegates to voice ideas and concerns into what these goals should include. The four main themes were discussed: Means of Implementation, Global partnership, Countries in special situations, and Human Rights (including right to development and global governance).

UN1301Open Working Group session on Sustainable Development Goals

The first day’s discussion focused on the importance of means of implementation for sustainable development. Science, Technology and Innovation are seen as drivers of social and economic development. Another important theme discussed was about how ODA (Official Development Assistance) remains an essential source of financing, especially for LDCs (Least Developed Countries), and that more needs to be done to make sure this type of funding increases instead of decreases, which had been happening recently. South-South and triangular cooperation are growing around the world, especially as a supplement to North-South cooperation. While a technology divide still exists between developed and developing countries and more needs to be done to bridge this divide, any solution needs to include women. Technology transfer is important to LDCs not only as a means to acquire sustainable technologies, but also as an opportunity to include capacity development, local productive capability, and supportive institutions. As a result, when a  technology bank for LDCs (least Developed Countries) as well as a technology facilitation mechanism were proposed, both initiatives received wide support among the audience. The importance of a rule-based, multilateral, trade system to benefit all countries would help LDCs move towards sustainable development.

The second day of the discussion focused on Global Partnerships and the involvement of the private sector in developing nations in order to achieve sustainable development goals. One of the speakers that day was Paul Polman (CEO Unilever), and his presentation outlined the importance of private corporations in any development plan and implementation.  In Mr. Polman’s opinion, state and international organizations, like the U.N, need to work with the private companies because they have the resources but not enough manpower to do practical tasks that sustainable development require. Partnerships need not involve many companies, only few of them are necessary to push for ideas that help or change the world. In his view, it is enough to have companies that can be held accountable and commit themselves to any collaborative project. He gave the example that 2 million children die each year because they do not have access to soap to wash their hand. Unilever produces soap, and other sanitary products, but not the training to show children how to wash their hands properly. Partnering with State entities and NGOs can prove beneficial in these instances as they help to advance the development goals and of course their business. However, it is not easy to talk about sustainability with the private sector, due to the fact that new technologies can initially be expensive, but here the private sector has an opportunity to make a significant impact on developing communities and push for a change in culture. The U.N can set a moral framework that can hold all actors accountable to it. This was echoed during the rest of the discussion when other participants emphasized that private sector should be part of the solution and that the contribution of the private sector can be enhanced with better governance and regulation. There is the potential to expand multi-stakeholder partnerships in the support of specific goals and that governments play a key role in creating enabling environments for these partnerships. Later during that day the UVU delegation had the opportunity to discuss the situation in Africa in relation to LDCs, LLDCs and DCs during the lunch with the Ambassador of the Republic of Botswana Charles T. Ntwaagae and the Deputy Permanent Representative Nkoloi Nkoloi.

On the third day, the discussion was focused on Countries in Special Situations, which included LDCs (Least Developed Countries), LLDCs (Land Locked Developing Countries) and SIDS (Small Island Developing States) and the means these groups have to be provided for Sustainable Development. During the Co-chairs’ meeting with representatives of Major Groups and other stakeholders, the UVU delegation contributed to the discussion on the day’s topic. Jesler Molina made an official statement on behalf of UVU. In his speech, Jesler as a practical measure called for intergovernmental collaboration to facilitate LLDC countries access to the sea and water channels through a comprehensive taxation program for their products, allowing them to have access to the international markets and helping them to improve their economy. He also recommended the group to review the LDC standard and to provide a middle ground for graduate LDC and non-graduate LDC countries, where the economies are fragile and could be put in serious danger at any time.

un1302smJesler Molina makes his statement to the committee ( Statement to U.N )

Jesler Molina and Dr. Rusty Butler also attended a special lunch hosted by the mission of Argentina to the United Nations on December 11, 2013 dedicated to the International Mountain Day celebration. As a part of the gathering a special publication commemorating International Year of Family Farming, which will be the theme for 2014, was presented to the audience. During the event UVU delegation had an opportunity to meet with representatives of international organizations, including Rosalaura Romeo, Mountain Partnership Secretariat Programme Officer and envoys from such mountain countries, as the Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez, the Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations Fernando Arias González, the Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, H.E. Talaibek Kydyrov,  and the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations Ahmed Snoussi. At the end, the UVU delegation extended an invitation to the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations María Cristina Perceval to visit Utah Valley University as a part of the International Affairs and Diplomacy program.

The UVU delegation also met with Joseph McCain, a member of UIMF currently serving an internship with the Kyrgyz Mission to the United Nations.

un1303smJoseph McCain, Jesler Molina, and Carlos Alarco,
UIMF representatives at the United Nations

The trip was a resounding success as the UVU delegation was able to interact with Ambassadors and representatives from many nations and had an opportunity to share before the U.N. audience and officials UVU experiences in promoting sustainable development agenda with particular focus on mountain cause. The delegation expects that there will be many more opportunities for future interaction with UN missions, the UN and other NGOs.


Carlos Alarco and Jesler Molina, representatives of UIMF

A Coalition of UVU Clubs