By Rebecca J. Flavin, senior lecturer in political science and Model UN advisor
On Nov. 6-8, 2020, 24 members of Baylor University’s Model United Nations team participated in the virtual National Model United Nations-D.C. conference, representing Angola, Thailand/Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom. The delegation representing the United Kingdom was named an Outstanding Delegation, the highest team award given at Model UN conferences, and the combined delegation representing Thailand and the Russian Federation was named an Honorable Mention Delegation, the third level team award.
In addition, five of our team members received individual recognition from their peers as Outstanding Delegates in Committee, and team members received Outstanding Position Paper awards in four of the seven committees in which they participated.
The conference brought together approximately 600 university students from around the globe for a live, virtual simulation of United Nations committees in which delegates took on the role of diplomats, researching their member states’ positions in the months leading up to the conference and debating and crafting resolutions during the online conference.
Baylor students participated in seven of the eight committees simulated at conference: General Assembly First and Second Committees (GA), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Human Rights Council (HRC) and the Security Council (SC).
The team began its preparations in August, researching and writing position papers on two assigned topics that were submitted to conference staff in October. One of these topics was chosen by a vote of the full committees during their respective opening sessions for intensive debate during the virtual conference sessions.
The topics our students researched and worked on included:
- Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction (GA 1);
- Financial Inclusion of rural and Underserved Communities (GA 2);
- Halting Biodiversity Loss (UNEA);
- Building Smart Cities to Implement the New Urban Agenda (UN-Habitat);
- Promoting Gender Equality in Investment and Entrepreneurship (ECOSOC);
- The 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (HRC); and
- Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (SC)
The preparation for this year’s conference was especially demanding, as this was the first time the entire Baylor team participated in a virtual conference. This was the first time NMUN hosted a virtual conference, as well, making this experience novel for staff and participants alike.
Jenny Nguyen, co-assistant head delegate notes, “While we were definitely disappointed when NMUN D.C. announced that their conference would be held virtually, it was amazing to see how the conference adapted and still allowed for a great educational experience, and our practices and simulations were done on the same virtual platform that the conference later used, giving us the advantage of being more familiar and confident with the virtual platform.”
Caelan Elliott, co-assistant head delegate, agreed.
“Even some of the hiccups in the technology gave us the opportunity to practice being leaders in stressful situations, and we worked to move forward on our topic with the other diplomats with kindness, flexibility, and grace,” Elliott said.
Sophia Fulton, co-head delegate, highlighted the unique aspects of the online format.
“While the virtual format brought new challenges, it also brought unexpected benefits,” Fulton said. “During the committee sessions, I worked with students from Argentina, France and Japan who would otherwise not be able to participate in an in-person National Model United Nations conference. Our team developed the skills to develop solutions for current global realities, defend their policy positions, and work with diverse teams all in a virtual format –– developing skills that are especially relevant in the current global situation.”
Co-Head Delegate Lauren McLane summed the experience up well.
“The online format proved to be a unique challenge that required us to adapt our in-person skills to an online situation,” McLane said. “However, it was exciting to see how effective the online format was at facilitating in-depth discussions of our topics, including the Security Council’s discussion of protecting civilians in armed conflict. The personal connections we made with our peers demonstrated that even though we couldn’t be in person, we were still able to have powerful discussions of global issues facing the world today.”
For a full list of conference topics as well as more information about the event, including the full list of participating schools and award winners, visit www.nmun.org. In February 2021, the team will participate in the virtual TexMUN/OsMUN conference, representing 10 member states in three committees, and in March-April the team will participate in the hybrid NMUN-NY conference.
The team is grateful for support during this year when participation in these MUN conference continues to be academically rigorous and rewarding and requires intensive preparation, but lacks the added benefits of travel to conferences and meeting new people face-to-face. We are especially appreciative of the financial support we receive from the Department of Political Science and College of Arts & Sciences, which allowed our entire team to participate in the virtual event. For more information about our team and its activities, visit our website.
Outstanding Delegations in Committee –– peer nominated
Members of the team were honored with individual recognition in three of the seven committees in which we participated:
- GA 1 –– United Kingdom: Caelan Elliott (Junior, University Scholar and Great Texts; Co-Assistant Head Delegate) and Anna Kate Walker (Junior, Economics and International Studies)
- GA 2 – United Kingdom: Sophia Fulton (Senior, Baylor Business Fellows and Economics; Co-Head Delegate)
SC – United Kingdom: Lauren McLane (Senior, International Studies and Professional Writing and Rhetoric; Co-Head Delegate) and Jennifer Nguyen (Junior, Biochemistry and Political Science; Co-Assistant Head Delegate)
Outstanding Position Paper Awards – staff nominated
Members of the team received Outstanding Position Paper Awards in four of the seven committees in which we participated:
- Thailand: Lauren Thompson (Senior, University Scholar)
- United Kingdom: Caelan Elliott (Junior, University Scholar and Great Texts; Co-Assistant Head Delegate) and Anna Kate Walker (Junior, Economics and International Studies)
- Angola: Lauren Jarvis (Sophomore, University Scholar) and Blakely Lowe (Sophomore, Political Science and French)
- SC: United Kingdom: Lauren McLane (Senior, International Studies & Professional Writing and Rhetoric; Co-Head Delegate) and Jennifer Nguyen (Junior, Biochemistry and Political Science; Co-Assistant Head Delegate)
- UNEA – Angola: Kaitlin Ochs (Senior, International Studies)
- Abigail Geisler (Freshman, International Studies)
- Elizabeth Herndon (Junior, International Studies)
- Lauren Jarvis (Sophomore, University Scholar)
- Rachel Jillson (Junior, Neuroscience)
- Bryan Lizano (Junior, Political Science)
- Blakely Lowe (Sophomore, Political Science & French)
- Kaitlin Ochs (Senior, International Studies)
- Travis Picco (Sophomore, University Scholar)
- Rebekah Sharp (Sophomore, University Scholar)
- Dani Wassell (Senior, Political Science & Economics)
- Thailand/Russian Federation Combined – Honorable Mention Delegation
- Jonathan Chew (Senior, Business Fellows & Mathematics)
- Krish Kothari (Freshman, International Studies)
- Grace Mathewson (Sophomore, International Studies and Spanish)
- Mckenzie Quarles (Freshman, International Studies)
- Emma Range (Freshman, Political Science)
- Valerie Stewart (Junior, Biology)
- Lauren Thompson (Senior, University Scholar)
United Kingdom – Outstanding Delegation
- Danish Ahmad (Sophomore, Economics & Biology)
- Glenn Buchanan (Senior, International Studies)
- Caelan Elliott (Junior, University Scholar and Great Texts; Co-Assistant Head Delegate)
- Sophia Fulton (Senior, Baylor Business Fellows and Economics; Co-Head Delegate)
- Lauren McLane (Senior, International Studies and Professional Writing and Rhetoric; Co-Head Delegate)
- Jennifer Nguyen (Junior, Biochemistry and Political Science; Co-Assistant Head Delegate)
- Anna Kate Walker (Junior, Economics & International Studies)