By Rebecca J. Flavin, lecturer in political science and Model UN advisor
On March 19-25, 2016, 14 Baylor University students traveled to New York to participate in the National Model United Nations Conference, which brings together nearly 5,000 university students from around the world to participate in two week-long simulations of the United Nations. The NMUN conference is unique among Model UN conferences in that more than half of the attendees are from universities outside the United States.
The Baylor team represented Vietnam as they researched and discussed important issues facing the international community, including:
- Transnational organized crime (GA 1)
- Renewable and sustainable energy for poverty reduction (GA 2)
- UN Peacekeeping Operations (GA 4)
- Right to adequate shelter (UN Habitat)
- Cybersecurity (GA 1)
- Building cities resistant to climate change and natural disasters (UN Habitat)
- Sustainable forests (UNEP)
- Terrorism and human rights (HRC)
- Human rights and climate change (HRC), and
- Developments in the field of small arms and light weapons (POA SALW).
A full list of conference topics is available online.
I’m delighted to announce that Baylor University’s team was named overall Outstanding Delegation at the conference. This is the highest award given by the conference staff, and only a small percentage of those teams who participate receive this designation. The last time Baylor was named Outstanding Delegation at NMUN was in 2012, when we represented Mali. In 2013 and 2015 Baylor was named Honorable Mention Delegation, and in 2014 Baylor was named Distinguished Delegation. Thus, our students have a long standing pattern of success at conference, but this year the team’s accomplishments are especially noteworthy.
In addition to the overall team honor, several Baylor students received individual recognition at the conference. These are awards given by the students’ peers at conference.
For the Human Rights Council, Kate Farley (junior, University Scholars) and Megan Rollag (junior, international studies) were named Outstanding Delegation in Committee. For the United Nations Environment Programme, Conor Burns (senior, political science and philosophy) and Joe Yope (sophomore, international studies) were named Outstanding Delegation in Committee. This is the highest individual award bestowed by the conference.
In addition, the UNEP position paper won an Outstanding Position Paper award. Joe Yope and Jessica Chapa (junior, political science) researched and co-authored Topic 1, Conor Burns researched and wrote topics 2 and 3, and Shannon Long (sophomore, biology) contributed research for topic 3 and assisted Joe, Jessica and Conor with editing the final draft.
While I wish to emphasize that we should never measure the value of the educational experience by the awards students receive at these conferences, it is certainly a reason to celebrate when their efforts are recognized by both the conference staff and their peers from other universities.
We should be further proud of our fellow Big 12 school, TCU, which was also named Outstanding Delegation for their representation of the Russian Federation at this year’s conference. While our schools may have fierce athletic rivalries, in the context of Model United Nations conferences, students take on the role of diplomats, which requires that they excel through cooperation rather than competition. Thus, the NMUN conference, as well as the TexMUN conference held earlier this semester, provides a unique opportunity for Baylor and TCU students to establish professional relationships that enrich the athletic and academic partnerships between our schools.
On behalf of the students, I thank you for your continued support of Baylor Model United Nations. These conferences offer our students a unique opportunity to take the knowledge and skills they acquire in the classroom and apply them to simulated experiences similar to those they will encounter in their postgraduate careers. Moreover, this program, along with our other fantastic experiential learning programs here at Baylor — including Mock Trial, Model Organization of American States and Moot Court — each contribute to achievement of our Pro Futuris aspiration of providing transformational educational experiences for our students.
Following this latest milestone, the Waco Tribune-Herald wrote a nice editorial about the value of Baylor’s Model United Nations program.
STUDENTS IN ABOVE PHOTO:
(Front row, L to R):
Beth Barber – senior, political science
Reed Stevens – senior, political science
Conor Burns – senior, political science and philosophy
Rachel Byer – senior, international studies
Bailey Craig – freshman, psychology
Kate Farley – junior, University Scholars
Megan Rollag – junior, international studies and Spanish
Shannon Black – senior, international studies
(Back row, L to R):
Luis Torres – freshman, pre-neuroscience
Eric Vining – junior, political science
Marc Webb – junior, international studies; 2015-2016 Baylor MUN assistant head delegate
Curtis King – senior, political science
Joe Yope – sophomore, international studies
Renie Saenz – senior, history; 2015-2016 Baylor MUN head delegate