Monmouth University’s Model UN team traveled to Boston to compete in the nation’s oldest Model UN contest at Harvard University from Feb. 10-13.
The contest is very large and competitive, drawing national and international participants. Ken Mitchell, Ph.D., professor of political science, traveled with the team, composed of 19 students, as their faculty advisor. He noted that COVID was a major setback for the group due to a lack of competitions during the 2020-2021 academic year, which prevented the team from growing and practicing.
During a normal year, the team competes at five contests – Washington DC, Boston, North Carolina, and two contests in the United Kingdom hosted by Oxford University and University College London. The ongoing COVID pandemic prevented these competitions from happening, which meant that the Monmouth Model UN team was slightly out of practice going into the Harvard contest.
Monmouth normally has one of the largest Model UN programs in the nation in terms of student participation, but COVID restrictions took a toll on the team’s numbers.
“A quick rebuild is occurring, with a fresh group of about 25 motivated students who started competing this year,” assured Mitchell. “By next fall I hope the number will be back around 50 students competing.”
Monmouth did not take home any individual or team awards at the Harvard competition, although the team still performed well according to Kevin Dooley, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department of political science.
“With many COVID restrictions in place, the team had to face challenges that they had not faced before,” explained Dooley. “It is very difficult for students to give speeches or work with other students from behind a mask. The last conference held in Washington DC saw the team win a variety of speaker and team awards.”
“Monmouth tends to perform well and take home prizes regularly,” added Mitchell, who made it clear that it was unusual for the team to walk away empty-handed.
“My all-time favorite moment is when we won Best Delegation Overall at the London contest in 2018. It’s the biggest contest outside of the United States and the group of Monmouth students on that team were all amazingly talented,” described Mitchell.
Participating in Model UN allows students to develop skills in public speaking, policy writing, group negotiations, and policy research. “To succeed, a student must learn to ‘win the room,’ which is an invaluable skill for life after Monmouth,” explained Mitchell.
“I became an active member of Model UN during the fall semester. I got to travel to the DC Conference and just a few weeks ago we competed in Boston for the Harvard Conference,” said Alex Mykulyn, a sophomore political science student. “My favorite part of Model UN so far has been listening to speeches from different countries and trying to make sense of what I’m hearing. You need to understand the history of international relations, economics, international governing bodies, and the dynamics of the room.”
“I have been a member of the Model UN team since the fall semester. My personal favorite part is the community it builds – many of the people on the team also hang out in the political science lounge room, and it brought us all much closer as a group,” said Richard Pitts, a sophomore political science and communications student.
“Outside of socializing with people at Monmouth, Model UN places you into a world of diverse thought with people from schools across the country and globe,” continued Pitts. “Seeing the viewpoints brought by these people is always interesting and can provide alternative perspectives or challenges for your worldview. It’s certainly an enlightening and broadening experience.”
“It’s all about working with people,” added Mykulyn. “You have to understand your own country’s position, engage with others to find concrete actions that achieve broader goals, and negotiate with other groups to try to gain votes. At the same time, you are gaining support for your group through speeches and more informal talks and fighting to ensure the language you contributed to the plan stays.”
The team will be traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina to participate in their next competition, which will take place at the end of March. Next year, the team is hopeful that they will be able to resume their normal competition schedule and travel to Oxford and Washington DC in the fall.
No experience is required to join Model UN. Students who are interested in participating should contact Professor Kevin Dooley by emailing email@example.com.