For over thirty years, the School of Global Education has offered project-based learning opportunities through its participation in the annual Mid-American Model United Nations Conference. Each year Global Ed sends 50-75 students to this week-long conference, however with nearly 300 students in the program, this activity does not impact all students. Recognizing the educational value of model United Nations for all students, in 2000 SIMUN, or the Stevenson Intramural Model-United Nations, was born.
As close study of current events is a regular part of our curriculum, creating fictional crises based on world events is the first part of this project. Once the staff generates general topics, such as Somalian pirates or unrest in Ukraine, the seniors are given these as prompts to research and then develop into an actual crisis scenario. All underclassmen are first assigned a country to research, as during the three day simulation each student will represent the viewpoint and interest of each assigned nation. Then, they are also given the general topic background to research, but they do not know the particulars of the crisis written by the seniors. The investigative research takes a month, with various components assigned by both their social studies and English teachers.
Once the rigorous research is completed, students are assigned committees which vary by grade-level, and when the simulation begins, the details of each researched crisis unfolds. During the simulation senior students act as chairpersons, legal counsel, and mentors. All students are coached by their teachers in parliamentary procedure. Throughout the simulation students dress professionally and are transformed into delegates as we simulate U.N. Security Council groups that will work to solve the crises as they evolve. Students have to think on their feet, adapt to changing circumstances as newsflashes are announced, communicate their positions effectively, use diplomacy skills with their other delegates, and work to find solutions to the problems.
Model-U.N. is an excellent project-based simulation that builds research, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. Students investigate, consider perspectives, and communicate. While they do consider taking action in the simulation, this is fictional. What we could add to this program is an action-based culmination at the end. Writing to their U.N. Ambassador expressing their concerns about issues is one place to start.
While SIMUN was developed by a few staff members of the School of Global
Education, there are many international, national, and regional organizations that
coordinate model- U.N.