Denison University students are prepared to achieve in highly competitive environments. This year, three Denison students were called upon for recognition at the 2017 American Model United Nations (UN) conference. Claudia Canfield and Nick Gallagher (‘18, both PPE majors) were given recognition for their outstanding representation of Sweden in their presentations. Jilly Fox (‘19, religion major) was recognized for her work representing Sweden on the Conference of the States Parties of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The Model United Nations is a realistic simulation of the UN General Assembly the UN Security Council, or other entities of the United Nations, introducing students to diplomacy, negotiation, and decision-making.
“Our students step into the shoes of ambassadors of member UN countries,” said Katy Crossley-Frolick, associate professor of political science and director of the Model UN program at Denison. “The student delegates debate current issues, prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the UN’s rules of procedure – all in the interest of resolving problems that affect the world.”
Students prepare for their ambassadorial roles by researching current global problems from the perspective of the country they are assigned in a lottery system. Research topics include peace and security, human rights, the environment, non-proliferation of weapons, sustainable development, and globalization.
“While we did prepare a lot in class, studying Swedish internal and external policies, and kept up with the news allowing for us to present ourselves strongly, I was still nervous going in,” said Canfield. “There were schools from all over the country and even a few from other countries. The experience was eye opening as some of us in the class were Sweden, while others were Latvia. We were separated into different councils, including the security council which included Nick and I. There were a few surprises on the smaller council, but otherwise, we knew are stuff as we discussed a broad range of topics including South Sudan and attempted to reach a consensus on the topic.”
Claudia and Nick presented as Sweden on the security council with about thirty other students.
The council was made up of students from other schools each representing a member of the UN security council, this was one of the smaller councils at the conference. “It was very difficult as each nation has its own agenda and approach to a problem,” said Gallagher. “This made being Sweden somewhat easier than other countries since it meant having a moral high ground as Sweden as a neutral country. I was very confident with how well we prepared for the conference. The dynamic between Claudia and I definitely helped as while I focused on the bigger picture, she was into the nitty gritty details.”
Amongst topics discussed within the council, there were also events that tested how well the students had studied their respective nation.
“One event that I enjoyed was when all the students on the security council were called for emergency session, at about four in the morning, to mediate a sudden war outbreak in Yemen,” said Gallagher. “So, at four o’clock in the morning, some 30 bleary eyed students were gathered to mediate this event for about two hours. We were at our wits’ end and exhausted as we could not reach a consensus,” said Nick. “Overall, it was a great experience and I am proud of how Claudia and I did.”
The class on Model UN is taught every other fall semester by Professor Crossley-Frolick, as with Canfield and Gallagher, it is not limited to those with experience nor with a certain major. A part of a larger political science course, the United Nations and World
Problems. The course is semester long involving an in-depth research in a nation’s internal and external policies as well as a close following of the news. As well as allowing for more in-depth study of diplomatic relations and mediation in international organizations.