Model UN lets students look inside international politics

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One of the most unique courses offered at Capital is the Model United Nations (MUN) course headed up by Dr. Lori Solomon.

“Model UN is very much a class based on group dynamics,” Brianna Murphy, who serves as a Teaching Assistant for the class, said, “You will learn all about a country and what the country believes and how a country would behave in the real UN and then you go to the Model United Nations of the Far West Conference and completely embody that country.”

MUN is an international organization that allows students to participate in negotiations, debates, and discussions over international topics while representing an individual nation and serving on different committees. The students are expected to fully embody their given identity as a delegate from another country that they may have never been to before in their lives.

Last year for the MUN assembly in San Francisco the group from Capital represented the West African nation of Liberia.

“It really was all about active participation and engaging in conversation about Liberia and how Liberia acted in the United Nations,” Murphy said.

In San Francisco, “we went to Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, rode the BART, ate dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp, and took a cruise on the Bay. We visited Ripley’s Believe it or Not, a Wax Museum, and a World War II Submarine – this was all when we weren’t interacting with other students who came from (literally) all over the world. Students from Germany, Taiwan, Russia, Japan, Finland and Pakistan participated in the program – not to mention countless states from the US. The experience was unforgettable,” Diana Crandall, another of this year’s TAs, said.

Crandall and Murphy agree that this experience was incredibly rewarding.

“In MUN, you really grasp the concepts on the United Nations and what it is like to take part in an assembled body,” Murphy said, “You learn parliamentary procedure, how to write resolutions, and how to be a part of a group with a specific goal in mind.”

But there is a great deal of work in the classroom to prepare for actually representing a nation in a session of the MUN.

“After learning about all the processes of the United Nations,” Crandall said, “students will go through mock sessions, arguments, business attire and eating etiquette, as well as thoroughly researching a country that the students will represent at the conference.”

“In class, you really have to work as a team to make sure that everyone is on the same page as far as your country goes. Class just works better if you can work cohesively as a team. Every single class was spent with the four of us sitting around discussing Liberia and discussing our resolutions,” Murphy said, “We wrote resolutions and position papers, resolutions are documents that express the encouragement for the body to do something and position papers were essentially papers expressing the opinions of certain topics of Liberia.”

But for the amount of work that the group puts into the class daily, there is also an element of enjoyment that comes with being able to discuss international relations with peers from around the world. “It was hard work and a definite challenge, but we also had the opportunity to explore downtown San Francisco, which is a cultural phenomenon on its own.” Murphy said.

Students who are interested in “international policy, business, communications, social issues, or just meeting people in general” may enjoy becoming part of MUN, Crandall said, “The theme of the upcoming session (April 20-24th, 2012) is the major issues of the 21st century. You do NOT have to be a political science major to participate in the class.”

“It really is an experience unlike any other.” Murphy said, “It was probably one of the most challenging learning experiences, but it was also one of the most rewarding, fun, and worthwhile ones as well.”

Students interested in being a part of Capital’s MUN delegation this year may attend an information session with specific details including course syllabi, fund-raising opportunities and costs on Monday, October 24th, 2011 in the Schuh Room (in the basement of the Campus Center) from 6-7:30. Pizza and snacks will also be provided.

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