Learn About IDIA

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The Institute for Domestic & International Affairs was founded in 1992 in the belief that one person, if equipped with the right tools, can bring about positive change in the world. More than twenty years and 30,000 participants later, our commitment to our founding principle is stronger than ever.

IDIA started as a student organization at Rutgers University and has grown to becomes a civics education and engagement organization focused on developing in young adults a sense of responsibility to community.  Only when members of society take an active role in their communities can real progress be made.

Our Roots

While we have our roots in Model United Nations and Model Congress programs, our programs have grown both in breadth and in depth.  Our Model UN and Model Congress conferences continue to offer participants the chance to discuss global and domestic issues while representing elected and appointed officials.  Rather than talk about how to solve global unrest, our participants assume the role of UN Delegate to draft resolutions to bring about peace.  Instead of talking about Social Security or fiscal policy in the abstract, or participants become Senators and representatives, and dig into the issues, developing new, creative, and thought-provoking ideas.

New Programs

Our newer efforts seek to engage our participants in their communities.  Instead of talking about development in Mexico, we bring university students to Oaxaca and Mexico City to feel what it means to be a developing nation.  Rather than talk about the plight of Africa, we brought students to West Africa to feel the sand, to learn from young people, and to share their own experiences.  Instead of talking about the same unsolvable issues that are in the news every day, we have hosted Invisible Issues programs at area schools.  Merely learning about an issue is not enough.  To form an effective, efficient, and open society, we need an educated, empowered, and engaged population committed to progress.

Our Methods

Learning about the world from behind a textbook isn’t enough in today’s world.  Facts are important in winning an argument, but alone they can’t make the world a better place.  Each one of IDIA’s conferences is defined by empowerment, immersion, and experience.  Whether it be a one-day conference at a local high school, a 4-day conference at a convention hotel, or a trip to another country to learn about their social frameworks, our programs challenge our participants to grow beyond their comfort zone and to take risks.  We put people up at the front of their room to talk about their opinions… and we also have them argue things they might not believe.  We put people from diverse backgrounds together in a room and challenge them to reach consensus.  We through seemingly disparate facts out and find ways to synthesize the information and develop reasoned arguments.  Whether you are involved in Model UN as part of a class, experience Model Congress through a club, or just want to learn more about the world, our programs are designed to enhance and enrich traditional education.  Our programs are fully aligned with Common Core and other traditional teaching standards, and we work closely with our schools and participants to ensure that our programs not only speak to the needs of a given school or club, but that the experience is tailored to address the needs of individual participants.

Our Guiding Focus

We educate our participants about important issues. We empower them by developing critical life skills. And we engage them in bringing about positive social change.