Ursinus Delegation Tackles Global Challenges at 2023 National Model United Nations Conference
With the U.N. headquarters as a backdrop, the conference brings together college and university students to discuss current global issues in a real-world context.
In early April, a delegation of Ursinus students participated in the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference in New York City. Students from around the world gathered together to discuss issues at the forefront of international relations, from regional conflicts and peacekeeping to human rights and economic and social development. This year’s keynote speaker, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an experienced diplomat and current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, emphasized “global challenges demand global solutions.”
Students participate as delegates to various U.N. committees, researching and formulating political positions based on the actual policies of their assigned county. This year the Ursinus delegation represented Switzerland. Through preparation, committee sessions, and hallway caucuses, students develop an appreciation of differing viewpoints, experience the challenges of negotiation, see the rewards of cooperation, and broaden their worldviews.
Alex Zelaya ’26 shares, “A key part of Model UN that is hard to find anywhere else is that these are not the viewpoints of certain individuals you are dealing with, rather they are the stances of nations, and you must find a compromise that both can agree to. This gives those who participate a unique experience as they must be willing to hear out others’ viewpoints and figure out how it all fits into the bigger picture.”
Some of the Ursinus delegation ideas that were adopted in resolutions included:
- Modernizing nuclear security infrastructure using technical cooperation funds.
- A “Perspective Change Program” for focused long-term climate adaptation policies. This program was also one of the few solutions mentioned in a speech at the conference’s closing ceremony.
- International security community centers (ISCCs) located in refugee-populated areas to improve the safety of displaced persons.
Other highlights of the conference included a briefing with Christoph Carpenter from the Swiss Mission to the United Nations, a briefing with Carolyn Strainic ’11 at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and a tour of the United Nations headquarters, which had recently reopened after several years of being closed to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Outside of conference sessions, students were able to connect, network, and form bonds with delegates representing five continents and dozens of United Nations member states. “This trip helped me come out of my bubble, and I made a lot of new friends,” noted Chris Kiss ’24. “I met people from Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Taiwan, and other countries. Outside of the cross-cultural learning experience of the trip that came from meeting and interacting with individuals from abroad, these people one day may prove to be valuable connections.”
The team was recognized for their hard work and dedication with a delegation award. Ursinus NMUN veterans Hira Khattak ’23 and Jack Flynn ’23 were also recognized with outstanding delegates in the Security Council awards.
Interested in learning more? Having participated in Model UN conferences since 1966, Ursinus has sent a delegation to the National Model UN in New York City for over 50 years. Students who wish to be a part of this rich history can contact the faculty adviser of the program, Dr. Johannes Karreth, associate professor of Politics and International Relations. All majors are welcome!