Fifty-one students from the Mount Allison community participated in a campus Model UN conference this past weekend.
Model UN is a global governance simulation based on the structure of the United Nations. Delegates are assigned committees and states to represent and specific topics to research. At conferences, students representing their assigned state or leader negotiate and debate with other delegates to create a final resolution.
Matthew Roberts, a second-year international relations student and conference organizer, believes that Model UN helps students apply what they learn in the classroom to real political issues.
“It helps people understand current political events – not just the superficial political news – [and] conduct research and understand what’s behind an issue,” Roberts said. “I think that’s really important today, when there’s a lot of political news coming out that’s not necessarily based in fact,” he said, referencing uncertainty surrounding the American election results.
Susu Graham, a PPE student and conference participant, also emphasized the importance of learning outside of the classroom.
“It’s nice to do something outside of academics [that] still ties into my major and interests,” he said. “It’s a good way to learn about the world without being stressed.”
Three committee simulations were offered at the conference: a General Assembly on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, a Specialized Committee on the Treaty of Versailles, and a Security Council on the Ukrainian Crisis.
Conference participant Minho Ae said that Model UN is important because it helps students understand the inner workings of a major political institution, as not all students discuss politics in their classes.
“I was interested in Model UN because the UN is the largest international organization to solve world issues,” Ae said.
The conference was open to all Mt. A students regardless of year, discipline or previous Model UN experience.
Corey Ogden, a first-year student who had never participated in Model UN before, said he found the conference fun and accessible.
“I had never done it before, but some of my friends in high school did it and gave it only the best reviews,” he said. “Especially for people around my age who are just getting to the age where we can vote and be active in political debate, it’s important to be informed on world issues.”
The Mt. A Model UN club holds weekly meetings and practice simulations on a diverse range of topics like the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli state, the Syrian refugee crisis and the American election. The Model UN club also annually travels to a conference at McGill University in Montreal.
This year, the Mt. A Model UN team organized their own conference for the first time as a training platform or an alternative to travelling to Montreal.
According to Aidan Legault, an executive member of Model UN, “not everyone has the economic opportunity to go to Montreal because it is an expensive conference, so making sure that people have an ability to explore this kind of activity in a financially feasible way is important.”
Legault also emphasized the importance of Model UN as a way to learn about the concerns of smaller states that do not hold major ties to Canada.
“Delegates are pushed to research sectors of society that they don’t normally have to analyze in their daily life,” he said. “It’s important to understand how developments in international policy might be geographically distant but still really affect smaller nations that don’t often have a voice in our political discourse.”
In addition to committee sessions, delegates also participated in a guest lecture by James Devine of the political science and international relations department, a wine and cheese mixer and a pub crawl.