According to the United Nations Foundation in 2013, over 400 000 students participate in Model United Nations (MUN) conferences around the world. Furthermore, to satisfy the high demand for MUN, reputable universities such as Harvard University have been bringing conferences abroad. In this article, we share five key benefits of MUN that have made it one of the most popular academic co-curricular activities across the globe.
Engages Youths in Current Affairs and Global Issues
Participants who sign up for MUN will be exposed to greater insights on global affairs through their background research and discourses during committee sessions. If students feel detached from international affairs, MUN can provide them with the excitement of international events and broadened knowledge on global issues. For example, in MUN conferences, the various committees will usually include the most contemporary and pressing issues that the world is tackling at the moment.
Therefore, MUN provides students with in-depth exposure to international affairs and enables them to develop global perspectives. There has also been broad consensus on the literature surrounding the benefits of MUN in increasing students’ awareness of global affairs and the politics of international organisations.
Builds Confidence and Public Speaking Skills
Participating in a MUN conference is a great way for someone to build up confidence and hone their public speaking abilities. As delegates are presented with opportunities to give speeches and engage actively in debate, MUN serves as a great platform for them to practice public speaking and learn from other delegates.
In a study conducted by Ginn et al., it was found that 88% of the students from the sample believed that they improved their speaking skills from MUN. Furthermore, 89% of the students felt that participating in MUN has boosted their self-confidence.
Thinking Through New Perspectives by Representing Different Countries
MUN trains students to think from perspectives that are different from their own. When participants take on the role of a foreign delegate of a particular country, they are compelled to do a thorough study of its culture and policies. This enables them to reflect on unfamiliar viewpoints and cultivate empathy for alternative perspectives and beliefs. Furthermore, during the conference, students engage in active debate and discussion with other delegates, while constantly maintaining the position of their assigned country. This cultivates an enriched understanding of the country that they represent, as well as provides exposure to new and differing perspectives.
Learning the Art of Diplomacy and Negotiation
MUN can serve to familiarise students with patterns of negotiation and provide a platform for the observation of negotiation processes and international regimes. The conferences are essentially diplomatic simulations that require a great deal of respect and cooperation, which enables students to gain experience on diplomacy and negotiation. Additionally, MUN participants are trained in the protocols of diplomacy, where they are required to honour diversity and differences as well as provide their opinions respectfully and productively during the conference.
MUN also trains students to use their research from their policy position papers to prepare their negotiation positions, which educates them on the importance of good research skills in the practice of diplomacy.
Meeting New Friends and Expanding Social Networks
Through MUN conferences, students can meet and connect with other delegates, their chairpersons, and faculty advisers from all around the globe. They may even get to rub shoulders with prominent government officials, from Ambassadors to the United Nations to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of a state, to United Nations diplomats, which could be useful in providing career advancement opportunities in the future.
Apart from the main committee sessions, most MUN conferences also organise social events which will certainly promise to be enjoyable and exciting for the participants. Events such as cultural dinners, dance parties and city tours are all great opportunities for fellow delegates to mingle with each other, have fun, and expand their social and professional circles.