April 16, 1998
Vol. 17, No. 14

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    The world according to Chicago

    University's Model U.N. team invents future, recreates past for first Chicago conference

    By Jennifer Vanasco
    News Office

    College senior Ken Cho has already predicted what the next 20 years will bring. Evidence of extraterrestrial life will be discovered. The European Union will become a political entity similar to the United States. A civil war in China will disrupt the balance of power in Asia. NATO will be dissolved.

    Cho and five fellow members of the University's Model U.N. team spent eight months creating a plausible future for the 2018 Peace Summit, one committee of the upcoming Model U.N. conference on campus. Although the Chicago Model U.N. team has consistently won competitions at universities across the country, this is the first time the team is sponsoring a conference of its own.

    "I just hope that if my predictions come true, people won't blame me for the bad things," Cho said, laughing. "I tell people our scenario for the future may sound far-fetched, but we tried to create things that could possibly happen. We hope it will be challenging for the delegates."

    The 2018 Peace Summit is only one of six unusually interesting Model U.N. committees that Chicago has developed for the conference, which will be held in Cobb Hall on Thursday, April 23, through Sunday, April 26.

    ChoMUN I, as this conference is called, will also feature a simulated meeting of the National Security Council and the Soviet Politburo of 1962, which will examine the international affairs between the United States and the Soviet Union in a historical context, as well as a historical re-creation of the League of Nations. More traditional Model U.N. offerings will include the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council. In each session, college students simulate United Nations delegates, who must negotiate with each other based on the policy of the countries they represent.

    "This conference is uniquely us," said College senior Leah Bartelt, president of Chicago's Model U.N. team and an economics major. Many of the Model U.N. team members, including Bartelt, had assisted with Chicago's annual Model U.N. high school conference, and they thought it was time to host a college conference that played to Chicago's strengths.

    "At other universities' conferences, awards are given to delegates who are the most persuasive or who are the best negotiators," Bartelt said. "Our style is a lot more grounded-we know more about international relations and history. If we're representing Libya, we're proud to be Libyans, and we accurately represent the policies of that country. We don't try to make compromises that Libya wouldn't make. So in our conference, we won't reward delegates who are better at negotiation than accurate policy."

    Fifty-six delegates are coming to the conference, which is a relatively low turnout, Bartelt said. She added that the conference was timed to work around the student-organized "Challenge of Modern Democracy" conference, so "it's happening pretty late in the year. Most other schools are too close to finals to attend."

    Still, Chicago's Model U.N. members are looking forward to the challenge of pulling off their first college conference. "Our hope is that people will want to come back next year and bring others with them," Bartelt said. "We'd like to start a tradition."