Model United Nations conferences for students is the latest craze in Pakistan. Hundreds of them are hosted throughout the year. In fact, there so many of them that they have started to be classified. Major MUN’s such as NIMUN (NUST international Model United Nations), LUMUN (LUMS Model United Nations) ZABMUN, and so forth, hosted by major Universities with an international presence, are great learning platforms for the students involved, providing them with skills for real-life global issues. Model UN’s teach “delegates” (the debaters) “The art of diplomacy”. The art of negotiating peacefully, and finding solutions to global crisis without igniting a flame or a war.
The meaning of diplomacy: The profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad.
Other than that MUN’s teach us skills of which our top ten are…‘drum roll!’
- Complex problem solving:
The main objective of Model UN delegates is to solve global problems, and almost every problem includes a complex set of political, economic, humanitarian, and security issues related to it. If the problems weren’t complex, real-life diplomats would have resolved them already and students wouldn’t have templates to work from.
- Critical thinking:
The research process helps MUN delegates develop critical thinking skills. Delegates learn to conceptualize issues and analyze different facts as well as policies related to the issue. Their critical thinking skills are often challenged in committees, as other delegates question their line of reasoning of their country policies and possible solutions.
Model UN challenges delegates to be creative with their solutions. Instead of merely copying and repeating existing solutions, delegates are expected to come up with creative solutions to resolve the issue. A lot of creativity also takes place during the conference when delegates can synthesize other delegates’ ideas and come up with collaborative solutions. Creativity is extremely pronounced in crisis committees where many scenarios require creative decision-making.
- People management:
The best delegates in MUN committees are usually people managers; they have to manage the different players in their resolution group. People management skills are also developed when MUN students run their own club and organize their own conference; they are essentially managing others to run their own nonprofit.
- Coordinating with others:
MUN delegates always work in teams in order to write their resolutions and lobby for support. This requires coordinating with others in their team to ensure that the resolutions are well-written, on policy, and incorporate all their allies’ perspectives.
- Emotional intelligence:
Emotional Intelligence: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Model UN is a “smart sport” — it requires social and emotional intelligence to be able to understand people, to work with people, and to persuade people. This is perhaps the biggest difference between Model UN and any other academic competitions like speech and debate.
- Judgment and decision-making:
Model UN is not scripted and the entire simulation requires delegates to make a lot of decisions about themselves and about others including who to work with and who to vote for. This is further pronounced in crisis committees where delegates have to constantly use their judgment to make decisions based on imperfect information.
- Service orientation:
MUN delegates learn to provide service — meeting others’ needs — because they often have to listen to others’ perspectives and try to resolve their issues. Those who organize MUN conferences also learn to provide customer service to their participants. And MUN as an activity inspires many participates to “change the world” — to serve our world by making it better.
The best form of negotiators?Those well versed in the art of Diplomacy
The whole point of Model UN is to negotiate solutions to global issues until they could be passed or adopted by the committee. MUN delegates learn to negotiate in small and large groups during unmoderated caucus or lobbying sessions.
- Cognitive flexibility:
MUN delegates develop the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts or think about multiple concepts simultaneously when they are introduced to conflicting country policies on various issues. Better yet, delegates develop this when they are assigned to represent a country that has a totally different viewpoint than the one they live in!
Overall, Model UN does a great job at giving students opportunities to develop and practice the skills that have been identified as desirable for the future workforce. So what are you waiting for, send the youth of the nation to engage in Pakistani diplomacy and let them connect, learn and debate their hearts out.