Pace University was recognized with nine awards in the United Nations General Assembly Room on 21 March, for its participation in the National Model United Nations (NMUN) 2013 conference in New York City, in which students put skills they learned in the political science classroom into practice in a simulation of global policymaking processes.
“You are part of the largest generation of young people our world has ever known,” wrote UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a special message to NMUN participants. “By participating in this Model United Nations, you will sharpen your negotiating skills and gain insights into what it takes to achieve consensus and progress. Armed with these assets…you can make your voices heard and drive political and social change.”
The conference, themed “Change Your World”, brought together more than 2,500 students, half from outside the United States, to play the role of diplomats engaged in deliberations on crucial international issues in committees and councils of the UN. Students are expected to engage in formal debate, caucus in informal negotiations and write and vote on resolutions.
“In Pace University New York City‘s Model UN program, surrounded by the vast diversity of our urban campus, we aim to teach young global citizens the knowledge, capacities and skills needed to change their world,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, Model UN faculty advisor for Pace University New York City and assistant professor of political science.
Pace University was tied for seventh in terms of number of awards received, out of almost 90 participating universities (Brigham Young University received 22; Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and Wright State University, 13 each; California State University, Chico and Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, 11 each; University of Magdeburg, 10; Japan Model UN/New Mexico State University, Texas Christan University and Pace University, 9 each).
“Winning awards is not the primary purpose of our participation,” said Dr. Bolton. “But recognition at the National Model UN conference is a validation of the excellence of a Pace education in preparing students for international policymaking.”
Pace University Westchester students, representing Japan, were commended with an “Outstanding Delegation” award for effectively representing Japan’s values and interests in the simulation. Pace University New York City students represented Portugal, Uganda and Kenya. The Uganda delegation was recognized with an “Honorable Mention” award.
“I feel the Model UN class and simulation has exposed me to an interest and a passion that I was not previously aware of,” said Pace University New York City student Hannah Liot ’15, who, along with her delegation partner Jacqueline Kelleher ’15, was singled out for particular commendation as “Outstanding Delegates in Committee” for their representation of Kenya in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. “This experience has definitely encouraged me to pursue a career in international work and human rights.”
Pace students spent the semester preparing for their roles, learning about the UN, studying their country assignments and honing their public speaking and negotiation skills. Much of their grade depends on their preparation, in teams of two, of detailed two-page policy brief — called a position paper — outlining their country’s position on their committee’s agenda.
“I like that it is hands on, I felt like the skills we learned in class I got to use during the conference,” said Tzionah Miller ’15, who represented Uganda in the UN General Assembly Economic and Finance Committee (ECOFIN).
“Model UN is more rigorous than most classes at Pace. You have to do a lot of research and a lot of work, but you learn practical skills that will be beneficial to have in the real world,” agreed her partner Monique Rivera ’14.
“Model UN is different than other classes because it is interactive,” said Annamaria Watson ’17, who, along with Emanuela Pepaj ’14, represented Kenya in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “Instead of sitting in front a professor for three hours, we are expected to take an active part in our own education through conference participation.”
NMUN commended students it judged had written particularly cogent analyses of their country’s policies. Angelica Razak ’14 and Lindita Capric ’17, Pace University New York City students who represented Kenya in the UN General Assembly Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), were commended with an “Outstanding Position Paper” award.
“Model UN has not only helped me in writing papers, but has also helped me with projects and assignments for my internships,” said Angelica. “Unlike other classes that narrowly teach a specific topic, Model U.N. combines international politics, public speaking and persuasive writing into one class,” added Lindita.
“Model UN has definitely helped me improve my researching skills,” said Jennifer Granovsky ’15, who, along with her partner Bushra Anwar ’15, represented Kenya in ECOFIN. “The first several weeks of class are allocated for the purpose of extensively researching a country.”
Gohar Chichian ’15 and Jessie Meredith ’17, representing Uganda in the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) also received an “Outstanding Postition Paper” award, as did Nour el din Moussa ’17 and Luke Froude ’15, representing Uganda in the Economic Commission for Africa. The Pace University Westchester team was also given two awards for “Outstanding Position Papers” for representing Japan in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and the Commission on the Status of Women.
“Model UN is definitely a class worth taking. It is fast-paced, which may seem challenging, but it more than prepares you for what you will face at conference,” said Gohar. “Model UN has helped me improve my research skills and speaking skills as I prepared for conference. I learned how to write a position paper, write impromptu and planned speeches, and deliver my point across to others.”
“The class also provides students with a chance to practice and enhance their diplomatic skills by interacting with people of different opinions,” said Rumsha Zahid ’16, who represented Kenya in the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice with her partner Andreas Poppe ’13. Courtney Taskovitz ’13, who was partnered with Joao Fonseca ’14 in representing Uganda in the Human Rights Council, agreed: “I improved my abilities in making myself, and my ideas, heard.”
“Without a doubt, my interpersonal skills improved tremendously throughout the conference,” said Spencer Lopresti ’17, who, partnered with Caitlin Boley ’17, represented Uganda in the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. “The conference allowed me to reach outside my comfort zone.”
Following four days of debate and deliberation in hotel conference rooms near Times Square, Pace students were then given the opportunity to vote on their committee’s proposed resolutions and attend a closing ceremony in the awe-inspiring General Assembly Room at the UN.
“After participating in Model UN conferences I learned that reaching an agreement is both challenging and rewarding,” said Jaqueline Kelleher. “The best moment of conference is when your committee has passed a resolution you worked on and you feel that a whole semester of hard work and research has paid off.”
In addition to offering training in policymaking skills through the preparation and simulation, NMUN also provided opportunities for students to hear from and interact with actual global policymakers and learn about ways to pursue vocations in international affairs.
“You are the next generation of ambassadors, legislators, peacekeepers, humanitarians, international law experts and international civil servants, and it is you who will bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the global issues and problems that we grapple with every day,” Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict and former Sierra Leone Minister of Foreign Affairs, told students in the Opening Ceremony.
NMUN students also heard speeches from Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in the UN Department of Public Information and a range of expert panels on hot topics in global policymaking.
“Taking Model UN is without question one of the best decisions I’ve made during my four years at Pace,” said Dardan Gjonbalaj ’14, who, partnered with Calvin Wauchope ’13, represented Kenya in UNCTAD. “Even though I may not stay in the field of international relations, the conference really reinforced my desire to work in politics.”
Located only two express subway stops from the iconic United Nations complex on the East River, Pace University’s New York City Model UN program has a 60-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is uniquely integrated into the political science curriculum within the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and aims to encourage students to develop wisdom, knowledge, skills and community for global citizenship and vocation.