Model behaviorStudents guide high-school counterparts in Model UN More than 160 University students will spend this weekend both studying for mid-term exams and helping some of the brightest high school students in the country hone their skills in history, foreign policy, geopolitics and international diplomacy.
The University students -- all members of the Model United Nations of the University of Chicago (MUNUC) -- will guide more than 1,800 North American high school participants in the Ninth Annual MUNUC conference, held today through Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Palmer House Hilton downtown.
Like other Model UN conferences, participants represent an assigned country, present that country's positions on various issues and work toward achieving resolutions on debated topics. Unlike other Model UN conferences, MUNUC stresses cooperation over competition.
"Most colleges organize conferences featuring hard-core competition between peer institutions," said MUNUC member Alison Bennett, a third-year student in the College. "We are more interested in pursuing our goal of educating high school students in international relations and debate. We leave competition to Chicago's Model UN team."
In pursuing its educational goal, MUNUC this year is taking advantage of the vast amount of technology available to students on the Internet. During the past year, MUNUC constructed its own integrated site on the World Wide Web (synergy.uchicago.edu/munuc/), making it possible for high schools to register for the conference on-line, access MUNUC staff publications and receive up-to-the-minute information on topics to be discussed at the conference.
At the conference, MUNUC will provide high school delegates with more than 50 computers -- all featuring access to the Internet -- enabling students to access in-depth research resources on site.
"MUNUC is the first and only Model United Nations conference to offer this capability," Bennett said. "It is one of the things that makes us distinctive in the national Model UN scene."
Another distinctive element is the background of the MUNUC membership. "Approximately 75 to 80 percent of the current MUNUC members attended at least one, if not more, MUNUC events during their high school years," said Bennett. "When students are at the Palmer House, they are given time and transportation to come to campus. There is an Admissions officer on site throughout the conference to answer questions. And a lot of high school kids just like to hang out with MUNUC members."
The conference traditionally begins with distinguished speakers. This year, President Sonnenschein and Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, the World Bank representative to the United Nations, will speak at the opening ceremonies.
MUNUC participants, who will simulate 17 different UN-related committees, have been briefed for the conference with detailed papers written by University students. The papers, which track events over the past year, are updated two weeks prior to the conference. While MUNUC is in session, Chicago students will serve as committee moderators and fact checkers. Along with computer services, MUNUC will provide a research station for composing and printing resolutions and amendments. The organization also produces the Phoenix, a daily conference newspaper that includes articles with fictional late-breaking news from around the globe and documentation of committee proceedings.