February 10, 2009

MUNUC convention simulates diplomatic crises for high school students

When students at the the twenty-first annual Model United Nations of the University of Chicago (MUNUC) this weekend learned that Osama Bin Laden was in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, they decided to conduct an air strike, killing Bin Laden.

This was all part of the four-day conference at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in the Loop this weekend: student delegates debate global issues in committees, trying to find mock solutions to international crises.

“My entire staff and I had to create these crisis elements ahead of time, including writing New York Times op-eds, creating a video of an explosion at Liberty Island destroying the Statue of Liberty, presentations by senior Defense Department officials, State Department memos and other things,” second-year Sean Mirski who acted as President of the United States in the simulation.

More than 2,500 high school students from 125 national and international high schools gathered for the conference, all run by University of Chicago students and alumni. The high school students participated in 22 official simulations of United Nations General Assembly, Security Council and other committees.

This year featured the first-ever continuous crisis simulation of the United States National Security Council, an idea proposed by Mirski. It was his fifth time attending MUNUC, after participating in MUNUC conferences in high school as a student delegate. For him, the conference was a chance to discover his passion for international relations. “For any student, I think it's useful to not only see debate about these complicated issues and learn to think in new ways, but also to start learning some of the social interactions that underlie the complex world of MUNUC,” he said.