1.1 Advice for New Model United Nations Students

Back to Handbook Contents page.

Back to Unit 1: Introduction to Model UN.

Over the past few semesters at Pace University New York City, Model UN students were asked to provide advice for the new students coming into the class in the next semester. Model UN is very different from other classes and this is one of the ways to help new students understand what is involved. We have divided up their advice into a few key categories:

The First Couple Weeks

Model UN is often described as a “front-loaded class” — much of the most intense work is near the beginning of the course. This is different than most classes, which tend to work up from a slow beginning to a busy end. The following is advice from former students on how to manage the first couple weeks of Model UN:

  • “The class structure is unique.”
  • “I think it should be said from the beginning about how much the head delegates are involved in the class.”
  • “The class is not taught like a regular class and this should be made clear before registering for the course. There is a lot more that goes into this class compared to others.”
  • “It’s very front loaded!”
  • “Don’t be intimidated by the syllabus. If you follow the criteria, dedicate an hour or two a night, it will be worthwhile.”
  • “Be prepared for a ton of work in the beginning. Lots of hours in the library. But trust me it’s needed and worth it! Also, it gets easier!”
  • “The deadlines are helpful — they keep us on track.”
  • “Always start by printing, reading, and rereading, and highlighting important and main parts of the background guide. This will help you understand your topics and prevent you from going off track with your research.”

Researching and Writing Position Papers

For specific guidance on how to write your Position Papers, read this article in the handbook. However, the following is advice from former Model UN delegates regarding your position paper research and writing:

  • “Take your research very seriously. You may think that this is ‘only an outline’ but the outline is the basis for your actual position paper. The better your outline, the less stressed you will have to be about your position paper.”
  • “Develop a good relationship with your partner. Split the work evenly – you need to be experts on equal levels in all things in case you split up!”
  • “Do good research for your position paper.”
  • “Be prepared to do lots of research!”
  • “Studying for and writing this paper was the hardest but most helpful part of this course.”
  • “Ask for help with your position paper. It’s overwhelming but once you get the research done it’s pretty smooth sailing, and the head delegates and your MUNtor are a great resource for it! Don’t be afraid to ask them to read it over.”

Advice for Surviving and Thriving in Class

Because the class culminates in an experiential learning trip and hefty research assignment, Model UN courses can be challenging for many students, testing their organizational and time management skills. We have tried to establish a variety of support structures in the class — including the Professor, Head Delegates and MUNtors (read this article about their roles) — to help you manage the challenge. The following advice compiled from previous students is related to the course overall:

  • “You will learn more in MUN than any other class you take at Pace. Make a study schedule, ask questions, and put time aside to do work with your partner. You will know more than anyone at conference about your state and have the power to become a leader.”
  • “The in class practice simulations are the most useful in that one cannot simply translate knowledge gained from books to real life without the simulation.”
  • “There is a lot of reading.”
  • “The Saturday Mock Session is really useful — make sure to go.”
  • “Keep your binder organized and up to date. You never know when it might save your working group’s butt at conference!”
  • “This class will take up a lot of your time, no really! A lot!”
  • “Don’t get too stressed out, by the time you know it the worst will be behind you!”
  • “Relax! Don’t panic, do as best as you can.”
  • “Set up Google Alerts and keep up to date with news regarding your assignment. The research does not end once you complete your outline and position paper. You should keep up to date about your assignment up to the conference. The more you know, the better prepared you will feel, which in turn will make you feel less nervous when you get to conference.”
  • “Use your MUNtor and the Head Delegates for support because it’s helpful to ask questions to someone who has done it before”

Surviving and Thriving at the Model UN Conference

We recognize that many students have never attended an intensive academic conference or participated in a United Nations simulation. Read this article from the handbook for specific guidance on surviving and thriving at conference. The following is a collection of former students’ advice on the conference itself:

  • “Be your own delegate—everything is situational.”
  • “Learning in class and then applying it in a live environment is an amazing opportunity to learn and grow.”
  • “Remember, you can only be in one place at one time.”
  • “Before taking Model UN, I wish I had known the amount of stress that the actual conference causes.”
  • “Don’t be intimidated. Everyone is different in MUN and that diversity makes it work. Embrace your special trait that you can bring forth to the team!”
  • “Look confident and act confident because people will trust that and think you know everything.”
  • “Don’t go into it thinking you will change the world. Be open to other perspectives.”
  • “Keep track of the working paper and make sure your policy is still represented as it goes through the editing and negotiating process.”
  • “Count votes before the draft resolution goes up to vote — make sure you know who is with you and who needs to be persuaded.”
  • “I find the conference to be the most useful part of the course, because students learn so much from a simulation of the United Nations. Every experience is also so very different, thus communicating many lessons to many students.”
  • “If you don’t bring a computer, be best friends with the person with the computer.”
  • “Try to speak multiple times.”
  • “Remember your policies and who you are representing–don’t get bullied or swayed by others. Stay true!”
  • “Have fun!”

What You Will Get Out of the Class

Despite the many challenges, former students often express satisfaction with the many new things they learned through engaging in the Model UN simulations. The following are a selection of reflections from former students on what they will take from their experience:

  • “This class will greatly improve your public speaking skills!”
  • “You’ll realize that you can be yourself and grow as an individual.”
  • “The best class on campus! Learn the most in this class and have the best time doing it!”
  • “Model UN is a great experience for students to gain knowledge in policy making as well as in international relations.”
  • “Model UN is a great class that builds so many skills and forces students to understand the concept of being part of a global society.”
  • “From art majors to business majors everyone can take away something very profound that’s not tangible in a traditional classroom.”
  • “It gives students a hands on experience in politics.”
  • “I valued the class’s ability to impart on the students critical skills such as debate and public speaking.”
  • “Being able to travel to and engage in conference was the most amazing experience.”

Elena Marmo and Dr. Matthew Bolton for Pace University, 2014. Version 3.0 BETA. For information, permissions or corrections, contact Dr. Matthew Bolton, mbolton@pace.edu