Model U.N. first at community college since '75

 The Model United Nations is making a comeback in Colorado after a 38-year hiatus among community colleges and a decade-long lull overall at all post-secondary levels.

CCA is using the two-day exercise from April 5-6 as a means to engage the broad international population at the school via an interdisciplinary, game-based learning approach involving simulation.

The CCA scenario will revolve around the overarching theme of “Human Rights and Human Dignity.” Four Main United Nations bodies – the General Assembly, Economic and Social Committee, Office of High Commissioners of Human Rights and U.N. Security Council – will convene to discuss simulated “subthemes” relating to the main topic.

Those global issues will include: the advancement of women; food security; the question of Palestine; social development and the eradication of poverty; international trade; environmental sustainability; children in armed conflict; indigenous populations; human trafficking; the nuclear crises in North Korea; the crisis in Sudan; and counter-terrorism efforts.

About 47 countries and another six non-governmental organizations will have representation in the mock sessions. There will be informal debate on key topics with the hope of forging cooperation between like-minded nations who can draft resolutions on the issues.

“What I’m hoping our students take away from it is an internationalization of their curriculum,” said Community College of Aurora Political Science faculty Bobby Pace, who’s organizing the event.

“I want them to realize that these issues they’re studying, the disciplines they’re studying, go well beyond Aurora and Colorado. There are real-world implications and issues, even if they aren’t terribly aware of them. And they have efficacy and the power to actually communicate and change international issues from their own international perspective. I also want them to understand the culture and politics of other countries and how that limits the kind of international cooperation that can occur.”

Pace’s motivation for the project dates back to the 1990s, during George H.W. Bush’s presidency and the latter’s famous “thousand points of light” speech. That moment sparked a sense of internationalism after a long dormant period, in concert with then-U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s book, “An Agenda for Peace,” which strongly suggested that the United Nations could be a key player again in tackling tricky global issues.

Events such as the Arab Spring and democratization across the world more recently have again opened opportunity for global collaboration, Pace maintained.

The CCA exercise is expected to include about 250 students from such disciplines as English, Political Science, Psychology, Anthropology, English as a Second Language and elsewhere. Students prior to the Model U.N. event have been studying demographics of individual countries and keying in on issue areas to be discussed in preparation.

Don’t expect all geo-political relationships to run smoothly during the actual exercise though.

“Crises will emerge as necessary,” Pace added. “We have events that can occur if things are going too smoothly.”

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