Student Spotlight: Policy Research Fellows Jonique Lyles and Daniela Porcelli

International Affairs MA Students Jonique Lyles (Media and Culture concentration) and Daniela Porcelli (Conflict and Security concentration) were recently selected to be Policy Research Fellows for the NGO Working Group for Women, Peace, and Security. Below, they detail their roles as fellows and how the Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs prepared them for working closely with the UN. 

Photo of an Event at the International Peace Institute attended by both Jonique and Daniela on The Importance of Multilateralism and Women’s Rights

Tell us about the fellowship you were selected for and your role as a fellow:

Jonique: The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security, a project of Tides Center, is a coalition of 18 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda at the United Nations and around the world. As a fellow we conduct research, write policy analysis, and contribute to policy advocacy initiatives on issues across the spectrum of peace and security—emphasis on protection of women’s rights, and promotion of women’s participation in peace and security policy at the international level, with a particular focus on the UN Security Council and UN Headquarters.

Daniela: We are each assigned about 4 to 5 countries currently experiencing conflict, undergoing peacebuilding processes, or political missions. Fellows monitor the activity of the Security Council and UN missions to ensure they are consulting women leaders and civil society actors. Essentially, making sure they uphold Resolution 1325. For women to meaningfully participate in peacebuilding, they must not only be invited into the room but consulted on all levels. The Working Group advocates for this and engages in conversations to facilitate the process.

How do the experiences and knowledge you gained from the International Affairs program translate into your work?

Jonique: Since joining The New School my journey actually led me to the International Affairs program as an internal transfer student. My first introduction began with participating in the United Nations Summer Study Program. UNSS jump-started my knowledge in International Affairs theories and practices, particularly those centering around the United Nations. It gave me first-hand experiences to visit, meet, and interact with various Member States and Organizations involved in Global Affairs. From this point, various courses in the program have allowed me to expand a range of skill sets like research, writing, and multi-media tool capabilities, all of which I am able to apply to the fellowship and potential projects in the future.

Daniela: The International Affairs program pushes students to think critically about institutions and policies. Bringing a critical perspective to an organization whose objective is to analyze the Security Council and promote more inclusive voices has proven a perfect fit. With coursework on peacebuilding and security studies, opportunities for fieldwork, and a practicum, The New School has provided me with a framework to do this work.

In what ways do you feel this fellowship prepares you for a future in the international affairs field?

Jonique: So far, Working with the NGO has allowed me to see the practicalities of what it means to conduct research on the UN. Each day gives me the opportunity to practice a critical approach and advocate for a Women, Peace, and Security agenda at such a level. In gaining this skillset, I hope to walk away with the ability to continue advocacy efforts but also aim to open doors for new possibilities and understandings of our global systems.

Daniela: It is giving me a behind-the-scenes look into how the United Nations works and a space to put into practice the skills I have learned at The New School. I hope to learn as much as I can about the women, peace and security agenda so I may continue to advocate for it post-graduation in a meaningful way.

Lyles Outside the Security Council during the Summer 2019 United Nations Summer Program while visiting various Member States

Porcelli outside the United Nations Headquarters