Model United Nations

On the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, third year student Katie Alice Doughty talks about one of Reading’s most successful initiatives!

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Model United Nations, or more affectionately MUN, is quite possibly the most fun and rewarding society you could ever join at university. It teaches you so much about the world and its people, provides tonnes of opportunities to develop your researching, public speaking and interpretation skills to make you über employable, and – most importantly – allows you to travel to all corners of the world with your best friends. What’s not to love?

For the past two years at Reading I have been part of the wonderful global movement that is Model United Nations. I’ve met literally hundreds of people at the eight conference I’ve been to in four countries, and have a place to stay at some of the world’s most beautiful cities. It’s hands down one of the most thrilling and enjoyable things you could possibly get involved in, and I’d love to tell you why.

You’re probably wondering what exactly MUN is, just as I did when I started university. Model United Nations involves debates about the most pressing international issues within the setting of the real United Nations committees. Topics range from the ‘right to religious belief’ in the Human Rights Council to the ‘developments in Ukraine and their global implications’ in the Security Council. It’s been going almost since the established of the UN 70 years ago, in the wake of the Second World War, and has ever since strived for international peace and understanding.

In all cases, the historical context to a topic or issue is critical to your understanding of it, and this can easily be reflected in your approach to the debate and how you tackle being a diplomat representing your country’s foreign policy. If you have an interest in politics, languages, modern history or the role of war in achieving peace, then this is the society for you.

 

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While we may not be Ban-Ki Moon just yet, it’s always worth a try. Who knows, one day we really will be the ones to make the important decisions. It could be you. Regular debate sessions are held throughout the academic year in all sorts of unlikely places, in the UK and worldwide, and out of the debate room the social side of MUN is a huge emphasis, with formal dinners and club nights in abundance.

It just so happens that the society at Reading is one of the very fortunate universities able to hold an annual conference, for about 150 students, at the end of November each year. We’d love you to get involved. More information is available on our website: www.rumun.org. We have huge team of dedicated enthusiasts from all sorts of subject areas and with all kinds of different interests trying to put the world to right a little at a time, and we’d love your name to appear. It doesn’t stop there, either – our society travels all over the place, making friends as we go. Recently we’ve been to Germany, Czech Republic, France, Russia and New York (all massively subsidised), as well as going to cities all around the UK. Of course, we try to (and also succeed in) winning lots of awards in the process!

 

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If that weren’t enough, Reading is also the first and still only university in Britain to have its own MUN Module for second year students. It’s run by the Politics Department (but Historians are more than welcome) and is almost always over-subscribed. If academics credit the skills learnt through MUN, then you can be certain that employers do too!

To begin with it can seem a little daunting if you’re new, but you get into the debate so quickly that you soon find your feet. I bet you’ll be itching to contribute as soon as a slightly over-confident delegate pushes too hard and chooses to be less than kind to your neighbouring country. Raising your placard with your country’s name on it in the air, you forget all your fears and address the room. Just by being part of the same debate as all these brilliant and enthusiastic minds you can learn so much, and the public speaking and legal-style document writing you get taught how to do is perfect for your graduate careers as well as university essays, no matter what they might be about. You can comprehensively develop your reasoning and quick-thinking skills without even realising it, being helped along the way by your soon to be best friends. Trying to come up with the most flawless way to put down your ‘enemy’ countries is exhilarating and fun, and there’s always a social afterwards where you can laugh about your differing tactics and make amends, provided you’re not too exhausted from running around passing secret notes across the room.

Hopefully by now the “how do I sign up?!” thought has crossed your mind. If not, it certainly should have! There must be a reason why literally hundreds of thousands of students across the world take part in this, right? Our debates are held every Wednesday from 7-9pm in HumSS G27 – that’s the big lecture theatre near the café. Before I began I had no idea what to do, and certainly couldn’t recite the UN Charter, but I can now tell you honestly that I would be lost at university without the Reading MUN family, and we’d love to welcome you to it.

Email: Readingmun@gmail.com

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