Thursday, November 12, 2009

Model UN Conference comes to Georgia State

This week, Georgia State University welcomed more than 450 high school students to step into the shoes of United Nation's delegates and experience the inner workings of the world's most influential governmental organization.

The College of Education and the Department of Political Science hosted the 15th annual Model United Nations Conference on Wednesday (Nov. 11), and on Thursday (Nov. 12) in the Georgia State Student Center. The event was open to the public to observe, but students had to register by October to participate.

High school students from across the state, as well as their teachers and advisors, will be participating in the two-day conference. Each school will represent one or more delegation from the UN and will be assigned to a committee to debate issues being discussed at the United Nations. The committees will also discuss issues such as human rights, environmental issues, piracy, economic development and globalization.

"The Model United Nations conference at GSU provides a unique opportunity for high school students to learn through a hands-on simulation of the United Nations," said Joseph Feinberg, a Georgia State assistant professor of middle-secondary education and High School Model UN faculty advisor. "They develop and enhance important academic and real-world skills, such as negotiating with others, debating important topics, and supporting arguments."

As "delegates," high school students will make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedures. Prior to the conference, the high school students researched topics their committees will address and studied the policy and needs of their representative countries.

The Model UN helps extend what high school students learn in the classroom through a hands-on experience and gives them the opportunity to see international issues from outside the American perspective, Feinberg said.

Georgia State students and alumni, who will chair committees and help run the event, also benefit from the Model UN conference.

"The conference is a great learning tool for everyone attending. High school students are sharpening their skills in areas such as debating, negotiating policy, and research. College students leading the committees are advancing their leadership skills and learning how to run a conference" said Kyle Proctor, a GSU alum helping organize the conference.

Such skills will come in handy this spring, when the Georgia State students assume delegate roles and travel to the National United Nations Conference in New York, which is their most prestigious competition. The GSU team will once again try to take home the top prize for Outstanding Delegation, as they did last April.

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