A beginner’s guide for those without a political focus
Model United Nations (MUN) conferences can be pretty intimidating, and perhaps even more so for students from disciplines which are not a part of the predominant Public Administration and Policy Management, International Relations, and Political Science fields that make up the bulk of the society. Potentially due to this same reason, I was not made aware of the MUN Society until my 4th year, but am extremely happy to have been made aware of it nevertheless. I think that the breadth and quality of this experience are beneficial to students from any and all disciplines. MUN facilitates the adoption and/or enhancement of a wide variety of skills, knowledge, and experiences that cut across all disciplines in their relevance and importance.
My background is in Social Work, with Carleton’s program adopting the unique “structural” approach. One representation of the structural approach (in short, for background purposes) means situating individual, community, and societal problems in their larger and interconnecting context and analyzing, researching, and implementing different practices from thereon. The policy environment could be one contextual factor and is of interest to me. This has been where my structural social work background has converged with my experience in MUN and made it relevant. MUN was very intimidating for me, especially in the fall in-house. I felt as though I was debating and conversing with students who were coming from directly pertinent fields as the topics that were being discussed. However, by the end of the year I had won my own Best Delegate award, proving that having a different area of interest academically does not keep one from success in the Model UN world.
Rather than being intimidated by the perception that particular fields of study are more suitable for MUN participation than others, I have learned that you can more often than not bring your own special skill sets, knowledge, and experiences and enhance the conversations and debates with that in mind. Backed with the experience of albeit, a limited four conferences (including two in-house and two external conferences), my advice to new and returning students would be to prepare as extensively as possible by way of background research, attendance in training sessions, conjuring up ideas for resolutions, active participation in all aspects of the conference itself regardless of fears (it’s all practice really, but don’t put your placard up every second if there is nothing substantive to be said), and even exploring how your field of study and unique experiences can be leveraged in order to bring new insights to the table.
Additionally, different fields of academic study, as well as the students themselves from different disciplines can and probably have common / shared values that can be built upon together, setting the stage for networking opportunities. Similarly, people from different disciplines can have common values but different ways of addressing / adhering to them – all of which merit attention in discussions and debates, in order to create a comprehensive and inclusive conversation.
Beyond all of this, MUN has been a great social experience by way of meeting many new, smart, genuine, and interesting people at Carleton, and even students from around the world. Don’t be shy to embark on such an experience; personal / professional development will ensue!!!
All the best,