Professor participates in summer UN workshop

Maggie Eubanks

ULM has a motto: “The Best is on the Bayou.” Typically, when this motto is spoken, a sport or club is being referenced. Political science professor Dr. Jennifer Dumas proved this summer that this motto is also speaking about the professors that ULM provides for their students.

She participated in one of the top stages academics has to offer—the Academic Council for United Nations Systems or ACUNS. This workshop is put on between academics and United Nations practitioners as a way to brainstorm different policy that can benefit people around the globe. Dumas was one of 10 academics chosen for the workshop.

In order to attend, Dumas had to prepare a 10-to-15 page paper on a research topic and submit an official application listing her accomplishments. As one of the most competitive workshops in the world, Dumas was pleasantly surprised to be chosen as one of the attendees.

Hosted in London, the theme of ACUNS this year was “Global Inequality and International Cooperation.” Dumas specializes in this field as much of her research is focused on gender inequality in Nigeria. 

“I was looking at how Nigeria’s domestic legal system places some obstacles in meeting its international obligations,” Dumas said. “They have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, but there’s still a lot of gender inequality in Nigeria, particularly in the northern part of the state.” 

Dumas was able to present her research at this conference along with fellow academics and practitioners working in the same area. Those at the conference are hopeful this collaboration will help real change come about through their research. 

The workshop allows academics to share with the U.N. practitioners areas of research they are focusing on and practitioners to share with researchers how their work is being used. 

“It was really great to be able to read about their specific programs that they’re doing out of their offices and to kind of see the overlap with my own research,” Dumas said.

Warhawks are fortunate to learn from Dumas after this experience. After hearing stories from her workshop and seeing the change she was able to make, research methods aren’t just numbers and party politics and gender inequality is taken a bit more seriously. 

“I think it’s great for students to see that because now it doesn’t seem as abstract,” Dumas said. “What they’re learning in the classroom, there really are a lot of real world applications for lots of those things, and we at ULM can actually be at the forefront of that.”

Something that makes Dumas’s participation in this workshop even more meaningful for ULM is that she is not just a professor, she is an alumna. 

Warhawks can see Dumas’s success and not just learn from it, but see themselves and strive for the same goals. 

An education from ULM can put students on the same stage as a degree from Harvard or Georgetown. Dumas believes this is one of the best things she took from the conference—the confidence to go for things even when you think it’s a longshot. 

“I got to have a really special and unique experience that I learned a lot from and that I’m bringing a lot back from to ULM,” Dumas said. “So I would say to take advantages of opportunities when they present themselves.”

Dumas took a risk on herself and gained a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The ULM community can take a lesson from Dumas. Sometimes you have to let your wings spread and see where they take you.

 “You know when this opportunity came through to apply for this, I hesitated,” Dumas said. “I thought you know maybe this is too big a reach for me, but I tried anyway and it worked.”