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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Learning Tips
Every year, more than 400,000 students worldwide at all educational levels participate in National Model United Nations competitions. The NMUN is the world’s largest intercollegiate Model UN conference.
Earlier this month, a team of five APUS students and their three coaches participated in the university’s first Model United Nations competition.
The number of students that each university sends to the competition is matched to the corresponding size of their assigned country.
Based on that ratio, the five-member APUS team was assigned the Czech Republic. They competed against approximately 500 students from schools all over the world and as far away as Fiji.
Each team was required to prepare in advance four position papers with potential resolutions based on the country’s actual stance on each issue. The papers would be presented at the appropriate committee — two UN General Assembly committees, one committee on chemical weapons migration and another on HIV issues.
During committee sessions, the teams tried to advocate for their country’s position and get it passed by the UN General Assembly.
Perspectives from Model UN Participants
The APUS coaches and the team worked remotely for several months researching and writing the position papers. For example, James Barney, a coach from the Legal Studies program, helped the team prepare a position paper on discouraging the use of chemical weapons while being “as diplomatic as possible.”
Barney said the team’s accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work of the other faculty advisors and the students working together. “At the end of the day, it was the students who wrote the [position] papers and participated in the conference,” he added.
Coach Paula Wylie, associate professor of International Relations in the School of Security and Global Studies, concurred: “Everyone on the team spent considerable effort and time in preparing for the conference, especially in writing the position papers.”
APUS student team member James Rippy pointed out that as first-time participants in a Model UN competition, “the conference/resolution-building part of the event was all new, and so there was a good bit of ‘learn as you go’ challenge.”
Rippy cited two factors that really helped the team — the constant, open collaboration and the dedication to providing professional representation. During one of the teleconferences, coach Mily Kao introduced a Czech Republic diplomat, “who reinforced and illustrated Czech positions on many of the issues we were dealing with,” he said.
Dr. Kao, a coach and adjunct instructor in the School of Security and Global Studies, said the competition was “an unusual opportunity for APUS faculty members and students to meet in person.”
She also noted the age difference between the APUS team and the rest of the competition. “Our students were mature/adult students and a few of them are in graduate programs,” she said. “They were thus more relaxed about the competition, just focusing on having the experience. They were assertive, but never aggressive when caucusing or making their arguments.”
NMUN awards recognize Outstanding, Distinguished and Honorable Mention delegations. Judging is based on the overall delegation performance across all four committees — not the performance in any one committee or a member of a delegation.
The time and effort paid off for APUS. When the Model UN weekend competition ended on Sunday afternoon, the APUS team took home two awards – an honorable mention for the team’s representation and an award for its World Health Assembly position paper.
“Everyone had a really good time. The awards are bonuses,” Dr. Kao added.
“After the conference, the team worked to produce an action plan to improve training for next year’s delegates. Even during the conference, they were taking notes on the proceedings, rules and strategies,” she said. “The flow of debate and parliamentary rules made a lot more sense when seeing and actually practicing them in person.”
Further Information on Legal Studies and International Relations
The Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies offers in-depth knowledge of the U.S. court system, legal writing and research, legal practice, and various types of law. It emphasizes governance, civil and criminal processes, and the theory and philosophy of justice.
The Bachelor of Arts in International Relations analyzes the nature of modern global relationships. It provides students with an improved understanding of diplomacy, foreign policy analysis, international organizations, global development and international relations theory.
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