Millikin University undergrads engaged in global citizenship by participating at the 24th annual American Model United Nations (AMUN) Collegiate Conference, held Nov. 23-26 in Chicago. During the conference, students from around the country and globally experienced realistic simulations of the United Nations.
Millikin students acted as delegates for the country of France, and took part in creating resolutions to solve world problems such as food security, biological weapons, and natural disaster relief. Millikin was awarded for "Exceptional Representation of France" during the Historical Security Council 1956 simulation. The simulation addressed key international security concerns and world events beginning June 18, 1956.
"It was a fantastic experience for the students because it gave them an opportunity to solve world problems," said Dr. Bobbi Gentry, Millikin assistant professor of political science. "This year, we represented France which gave us more power than in previous years because France is a permanent five country. We had a lot of influence this year and that was helpful for our students to see how much power a permanent five country can have."
American Model United Nations is a non-profit, educational organization that provides students with the most professionally run simulation of the United Nations available. AMUN strives to combine educational quality with highly realistic simulations of the United Nations to give students an unparalleled Model UN learning experience.
"The conference is meant to be an educational experience so many of the schools that come to the conference are usually taking it as a class or sometimes a club, it depends on the institution," said Dr. Gentry. "The beginning of the conference is highlighted by deciding which issues the students are going to address. What made this year different was that we had representation on the Security Council, which meant we had veto power over any decisions that were made."
Students at the 2013 AMUN Conference wrote position papers describing how their assigned country would work to solve an issue. Students then worked on developing resolutions similar to how the United Nations itself would create. Students also worked on caucusing with other students from around the world to develop ideas for resolutions. After working on these resolutions the students presented their results to the body of the conference, and engaged in points of inquiry.
"To the best of our ability, the goal was to find one or two resolutions that solve the issues," said Aaron Thomas, a junior political science major from South Elgin, Ill. "There was more work this year because we were representing France and I believe we brought our A-game in terms of preparation."
As President of Millikin's AMUN club, Thomas felt it was important for the students to feel comfortable while speaking. "Being able to elaborate on any ideas that they were trying to put forth and feel comfortable speaking in front of hundreds of people was key," said Thomas.
"Going into that environment, you get an idea of what the actual United Nations is like," said Nick Truog, a sophomore political science major from West Milwaukee, Wis. "You have to be socially sound in order to enjoy and participate at the conference."
In terms of preparation for the conference, the students researched on the structure of the United Nations and parliamentary procedure. The students also performed extensive research on France, and also studied the country's stance on certain issues and the statements the country provided on those issues.
"I think what students take away from this experience is the power of interaction in solving world problems," said Dr. Gentry. "It's about how well the students know the other people in the committee, how do they connect with them, and how do they address problems and concerns. It gets back to politics which is words and meanings."
In reference to other aspects of the conference, Gentry said, "This experience was also an educational opportunity for students in the Historical Security Council, a council where students are given the context of what was happening in 1956 or 1994. It puts students in that context and provides them an opportunity to change history."
Millikin University will be representing Argentina at next year's AMUN Conference.
"There are three things that I think Millikin does to help prep the students for this experience," said Dr. Gentry. "The first is public speaking and voicing your country's opinion. The second factor is writing and the third is performance learning. Students are role playing and it's the kind of performance piece that brings everything together. In the end, it's all about democratic citizenship in a global environment – students living that."
Thomas added, "I think Model United Nations should be a premier organization at Millikin. I think winning an award helps Millikin's brand and helps the students realize that they can achieve more when it comes to this type of organization. Now that we have taken the next step, we just have to continue building."