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Playing the role of South Korea during the 2015 Midwest Model UN Conference, Maryville’s young team garnered its first award. In it’s second competition, the team received an Honorable Mention for Best Delegation in the General Assembly Plenary Session.
“It’s rewarding seeing students talk intelligently about topics I might not know about,” says Davis Brown, PhD, faculty advisor. “The ability of the students to sink their teeth into new topics never fails to amaze me. This speaks well about the student body that we’re winning awards after two years.”
The seven team members of Maryville’s Model UN team are freshmen through seniors and they represent the social sciences, humanities and mathematics disciplines. Participation helps expand their knowledge of world events and cultures, and they learn to articulate their positions on global issues.
“I really enjoy seeing how the UN works, meeting people from different places and finding out more about how the world works,” says Karlo Jingura, international studies major. Emerald Heembrock, a communication major, agrees: “It’s been a very eye-opening experience. I came into this class not having much experience in Model UN. I became a lot more involved in the processes, and my communication side shined more.”
Brown started the Model UN team as part of the restructuring of the International Studies program. While the program enhances the University’s commitment to preparing students as informed, globally conscious citizens, it also contributes to their knowledge of the world.
“It’s a boost of confidence, realizing different perspectives,” says George Duarte, a history major. “It molds our perception of the way the world works as opposed to how we think it works.”
Model UN teaches practical application of world politics, says Brown. With roles differing from year to year, the common goal of the Model UN course is for students to learn about the workings of the United Nations and European Union. Skills are developed in public speaking, parliamentary procedure, issue advocacy, persuasion, argumentation and consensus building. Exposure to differences in a variety of topics, such as policies of countries, universal jurisdiction and trans-boundary harm are important outcomes for students to advance their knowledge of global politics, he says.
Students who participate in the group will have plenty of opportunity to explore further foreign culture and political systems. At next year’s Midwest Model UN Conference, Maryville will play the role of Iran.
“It’s good to shake ourselves out of sheltered times, and good to deal with the controversial, including how to debate controversial issues,” Brown says.