Ten East Carolina University students are participating in the National Model United Nations competition in Washington, D.C. this Nov. 3-5. ECU’s Model UN Club attended two conferences last year in Atlanta and Charlotte, where the group won delegation awards, sparking their interest in attending this year’s national competition.
Flags of the United Nations (contributed photo)
ECU’s team of eight undergraduate and two graduate students from the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences will represent the country of Poland. Two students are assigned to one of five committees, where they debate issues amongst other teams representing various countries. The overall goal is to create feasible solutions to real-world issues.
“I am very excited for this conference,” said Haley Creef, ECU Model UN Club president and sophomore majoring in economics, finance and political science. “This conference will be made up of students from all over the country. So it will be extremely exciting to be around so many like-minded, yet diverse individuals.”
Dr. Marie Olson Lounsbery, associate professor of political science, is serving as the club’s faculty advisor.
“Students learn the process of negotiation and conflict resolution,” said Lounsbery. “They find the interaction with other students on these issues very valuable.”
Prior to attending the competition, the students are researching and writing about the issues, and learning ways to defend their positions.
“There are numerous ways in which these conferences are beneficial to those who attend,” said Braxton Smallwood, former club president who now serves as the club’s graduate assistant and will participate in the competition.
“It helps with your writing skills in that you are constantly writing things ranging from position papers to draft resolutions,” said Smallwood. “Secondly, it helps to build a better understanding of global politics, and helps to show how other political systems work outside of the United States.”
In addition to the events of the competition, the ECU students have been invited to visit Poland’s embassy during their stay in D.C.
The United Nations Flag (contributed photo)
“This will be a fantastic way to enhance the educational experience for our group, and it is an overall honor to have been invited,” said Creef.
During the competition, committees and issues to be addressed will include:
- General Assembly, which will deal with the issues of cybersecurity/cyberwarfare, and small arms trafficking;
- UN Environmental Assembly, dealing with protection of the environment in areas of armed conflict, and safeguarding the Oceans;
- UN Conference on Trade and Development, which will examine minimizing the negative impacts of globalization, and the social responsibility of multinational corporations;
- International Atomic Energy Agency, that will debate nuclear technology and water security, and improving the effectiveness of safeguards and verifications mechanisms; and
- Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, to address the needs of the internally displaced, and discuss improving housing and food security for urban refugees.
Dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Dr. William Downs believes participation in academic teams such as Model UN can be an invaluable enhancement of student learning.
“The research students pour into their preparations is considerable and it fosters understanding – even empathy – of the countries they represent. This kind of active learning, with simulations taking place in the heart of the nation’s capital, cannot be matched in a classroom,” said Downs. “Additionally, we’d like nothing more than for ECU’s delegation to outperform those from Brown University, Wake Forest, UC-Irvine, Syracuse and others attending this year’s D.C. competition. That would be quite a statement.”
Immersing an increasing number of ECU students in the world of Washington politics and policy is one of Harriot College’s goals, and National Model UN fits within that goal.
According to Downs, “We are in active discussions with friends and alumni in the D.C. area to build a semester program for ECU students, giving them structured opportunities to take courses and secure internships. Every chance we get to expand our presence in Washington is a positive step toward that aspiration.”
For additional information about the National Model UN conference, visit http://www.nmun.org/conferences/washington-dc.html or contact Lounsbery at 252-328-2349 or email@example.com. To discuss support of the ECU/Washington D.C. connection, contact Jessica Nottingham, Harriot College director of alumni relations and outreach, at 252-737-1753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communication