E-town political science class recognized for outstanding participation at Model UN
May 4, 2017   //   By:   //   Achievements, Real-world Learning

For five days in March, college students get a taste of what it takes to run the world

As part of the National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference in New York City, students engage in role-play exercises as delegates to the United Nations and simulate UN committees as a means of honing their skills at research, public speaking, debating and writing, as well as critical thinking, teamwork and leadership.

“These are all applicable skills to life after graduation,” said Oya Dursun-Ozkanca, an associate professor of political science and director of the international studies minor at Elizabethtown College. Dursun-Ozkanca has taught a Model UN class for the past eight years. Offered alternating spring semesters, the course takes students to the NMUN Conference in New York.

This year’s conference was held March 19 to 23. Thirteen E-town students spent almost a week in New York City, joining 5,000 students from 144 counties. The class represented the African country of Lesotho, each serving as a delegate for different UN bodies and committees.

Every major has a place in international relations.”

Senior political science major Emily West, who had previously taken the course in 2015, served as the Head Delegate of Lesotho Delegation at this year’s conference.

“You really learn how challenging it is to be a smaller country,” West said. “It gives you [a different] perspective on how the world works.”

“It’s sobering,” added junior political science major Kayla Gruber.

Though the course has a heavy focus on international relations, it is open to students of various majors. Dursun-Ozkanca said this year’s class included psychology, English and education majors.

“Every major has a place in international relations,” Gruber said.

In addition to helping students build diplomatic, public speaking, interpersonal and multicultural communication skills, Dursun-Ozkanca added that attending the Model UN strengthens problem-solving skills.

“A lot of times you don’t get to see how much complexity is involved in decision making,” Dursun-Ozkanca said. “At Model UN, you see hands-on implementation of diplomacy and bargaining.”

Students Gruber and West found value in applying their international relations knowledge to a real-world situation.

“Attending the conference gives you a better perspective of what actual delegates do,” West said. “It really gives you that real-world experience of what happens in the UN that you wouldn’t learn in the classroom.”

Gruber agreed: “It broadens your perceptions of issues, and it gives you a lot of outside information that comes from places around the world.”

E-town was recognized at the closing ceremony of the NMUN New York conference held at the General Assembly Hall of the UN for outstanding participation. The E-town Delegation received a certificate of honorable mention. E-town’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking provided financial support for the class to attend the conference.

About the Author :

Rebecca Easton is a junior at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She is currently studying English with a concentration in professional writing, and is pursuing a double minor in communications and business administration. Her primary interests in these fields include journalistic writing, copy editing and marketing. She currently works for the Elizabethtown College Center for Student Success as a writing tutor. She also works for the Office of Marketing and Communications.

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