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Some students complain about having to trek all the way to DRL for their classes. Try commuting to Bangkok. Social Work Professor Richard Estes travels to that Thailand city every two months for his work with a United Nations committee which researches economic and social planning in 45 countries in Asia and the Pacific. Estes coordinates the program for the U.N.'s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. He collects data from representatives of the 45 countries and creates economic and social scenarios for the U.N. "These reports will become a blueprint for the U.N.," Estes said. "They'll use [them] to assign priorities to the issues in region, to decide where the money goes, where the time goes." The program deals with human rights, population trends, education, health issues like drug problems and AIDS, foreign aid and technology. Officially titled "To the Year 2000 and Beyond," the ESCAP program was started to find ways of solving problems that arise when countries deal with economic issues alone without considering the overall picture. "In the last 10 years the U.N. has come to the realization that economic planning doesn't lead to good social results automatically," Estes said. "Economic planning is not an end in itself but a means to an end." Estes said it is unusual for a westerner to be chosen as a member of ESCAP, since the differences between western and eastern cultures are so great. "The region doesn't lack talent [in this area]," Estes said. "When I first got the call I just stared at the phone. It's exciting and humbling." Estes, who teaches a freshman seminar called Dilemmas of International Development, said that the work with the U.N. has enhanced his job as a professor. "The issues we deal with in [class] are the same ones I deal with in ESCAP," Estes said. "The experience feeds directly to the classroom work." Estes' students are also benefitting from his work. Two of his students are researching human rights -- both for Estes and for their own papers. Others are working on the problems of population control, women's issues, and the future place of Confucianism in Eastern society.

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