With the increase of globalization and international relations, many students feel that finding solutions to global issues is paramount. In order to do this, nine students from the University of Saskatchewan attended the Canadian International Model United Nations and Carleton Model North Atlantic Treaty Organization conferences in Ottawa over the winter break.
MUN and MNATO events have a combined attendance of hundreds of students from across North America and the world. Participating students have the opportunity to role play as delegates from assigned countries and discuss current international topics, ranging from disarmament and the threat of cyber warfare to regional security in the Balkans and the link between women’s empowerment and sustainable development.
Matthew Selinger, president of the USask MUN club and third-year student of modern languages with a minor in political studies, sees the conferences as more than just an opportunity to act likea delegate from another country.
“MUN conferences aim to improve a student’s public speaking, co-operation and diplomacy skills while participating in a process to simulate a solution to a world issue. I think most importantly, it brings people from different backgrounds together and you gather different perspectives of the world throughout the conference,” Selinger said, in an email to the Sheaf.
Aside from public speaking, decision making and co-operation skills, the simulations at MUN and MNATO conferences help students understand how international organizations like the UN and NATO make decisions. Confidence building, research and negotiation are other skills that these conferences help to develop. MUN and MNATO also offer hands-on learning experiences for students interested in international politics and debate.
Preparation for these conferences includes researching the perspectives of a delegated country on a given topic and writing a position paper outlining that country’s stance and what the student, as a delegate, hopes to achieve during the conference. Dali Holloway, a second-year political studies student, comments on the preparation process.
“The deadline for papers was a week and a half before the conference, so after those were submitted I had to understand general NATO procedures and how the committee sessions are carried out, the specific wording for motions, voting, etc.,” Holloway said, in an email to the Sheaf.
The USask MUN club is open to all students at the U of S. According to Mackenzie Stewart, a fourth-year political studies major, the club is especially well-suited to students with a passion for politics, international issues and debate.
“I am very interested in politics and policy,” Stewart said, in an email to the Sheaf. “MUN is a really great way to get to do both. Plus, it is really fun to get to pretend to be a country and vote and negotiate along the lines of your [delegated country’s] desires.”
Holloway also feels that the club is more approachable and interesting than it might seem to some students.
“Even though I’m a political science major, the reason I joined was for the counter-terrorism aspects of it, so the club really isn’t as dry as many believe it to be,” Holloway said.
Selinger recommends that students who are interested in joining or who have a general interest in the USask MUN club contact the club at email@example.com.
“I will let people know the details and time of the [executive elections] meeting. If you wish to show general interest for next year, then I will make sure to stay in touch with you and answer any questions you may have regarding the club or external conferences,” Selinger said.
To any students interested in participating at next year’s MUN conferences, either through the U of S or as an individual delegate, Selinger encourages them not to hesitate.
“I do not have one iota of regret for getting involved with MUN.”
Photo: USask Model United Nations / Supplied