Model UN Awards Highlight Pace Students’ Superior Skills in Writing Policy Papers

Marshal Digiovanna '16 (in red shirt) checks the progress of a working paper at the 2014 National Model UN conference in Washington DC, where he and his delegation partner, Thomas Winquist '15, won an award for an outstanding Position Paper.

Marshal Digiovanna ’16 (in red shirt) checks the progress of a working paper at the 2014 National Model UN conference in Washington DC, where he and his delegation partner, Thomas Winquist ’15, won an award for an outstanding Position Paper. Photo: NMUN.

Pace University New York City students joined more than 800 students from more than 80 universities at the National Model United Nations conference in Washington DC, 31 October to 2 November, to simulate multilateral decisionmaking on the topic “Confronting Issues at the Forefront of International Relations.”

“We are the first generation that can end extreme poverty – yet people and the planet face the rising pressures of a warming climate, growing inequality, and exploitation from mines to fields to factory floors,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his letter to the conference. “These plans are ambitious. We need people to make them real. … I count on you to use the … skills you learn in this Model UN exercise to help navigate the real-world challenges we face.”

The Pace delegation – representing Finland and Hungary – was recognized with three Position Paper awards, highlighting the students’ superior skills in summarizing complex global problems and succinct, cogent solutions.

“My partner and I worked diligently to create an excellent paper,” said Inemesit Essien ‘16, who represented Finland in discussions about prevention and control of vector-borne diseases, in a simulation of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO). Along with her delegation partner Yasmine Coccoli ‘18, Inemesit received a Position Paper award for their submission, which offered a plan for combating Vector-Borne Diseases in developing countries. “We were extremely surprised that we won an award but I am so happy about it!” said Inemesit.

Oleh Puryshev '16 (top left), in negotiations on vector-borne diseases at the 2014 National Model UN conference in Washington DC.

Oleh Puryshev ’16 (top left), in negotiations on vector-borne diseases at the 2014 National Model UN conference in Washington DC. Photo: NMUN.

“The Pace Model UN handbook’s outline for the Position Paper was a perfect guide not only for producing a good piece of writing, but also for gaining the right knowledge both about your committee and country,” said Oleh Puryshev ‘16, who represented Hungary in the WHO with his delegation partner Gisselle Rodriguez ‘16.

In the simulation of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, both sets of Pace students won Position Paper awards for their policy recommendations on controlling small arms and light weapons, dealing with emerging weapons systems like military robots and negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East.

“Model UN class is an extremely demanding and challenging class, which requires effort, commitment, and concentration throughout the semester,” said Vato Gogsadze ‘15 who represented Hungary in the First Committee. “By spending a significant amount of time researching and writing a position paper for the class and a resolution at the conference, I was able to improve my research and writing skills.”

His delegation partner, Harsh Mehta ‘15, agreed: “Writing a position paper for your committee is one of the toughest aspects of the class. No matter how many times you do this, you can always sharpen their skills for writing and research.”

Also from Pace in the First Committee were Marshal Digiovanna ’16 and Thomas Winquist ‘15, who represented Finland. “Model UN has shown me the importance of research in convincing others of your opinion,” said Marshal.

The conference opened by taking the students to visit the Department of State, which manages the United States’ relations with other countries. Former Model UN students now working in America’s diplomatic apparatus extolled Model UN’s training in research and writing.

“The main lesson I learned in Model UN is how to be concise without being vague or lacking in detail,” said Niall O’Reilly ‘16, who, with Jennifer Diaz ‘16, represented Hungary in a simulation of decisionmaking in the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “This will especially be important in my future career when writing emails and letters where it will be important to catch and keep my readers’ attention.”

“Along with obvious skills of writing, diplomacy, and research that were enhanced due to the intensity and demand of the class, I think we learned other qualities like decorum, respect for others, compromise, articulation, and cooperation,” said Priya Sakaria ‘17, who along with Shellyann Lewis ’15 represented Finland in the UNHCR simulation.

Priya Sakaria '17 negotiating policy solutions to refugee crises at the 2014 National Model UN conference in Washington DC.

Priya Sakaria ’17 (fifth from left) negotiating policy solutions to refugee crises at the 2014 National Model UN conference in Washington DC. Photo: NMUN.

“Writing the position paper helped me understand how to prioritize and how to interpret all the information gathered and creating one coherent, dense yet fluid paragraph rather than a page,” said David Hazout ’15 who represented Hungary with Annie Stishov ’18 in a simulation of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Each pair of students participating in a Model UN conference is required to write a Position Paper that outlines the view of the country they are representing on the topics before the conference. At Pace University New York City, students spend four to six weeks on this paper, doing detailed research, preparing an outline and completing multiple drafts. The professor and student Head Delegates provide extensive feedback, assign country-specific reading and make suggestions on revisions.

“From correcting other students’ writing, I have learned how obvious it is to your reader if you haven’t proofread or looked back over your paper,” said Jaqueline Kelleher ‘15, one of the four Head Delegates. “This taught me to be more thoughtful while I write. It is worth those extra couple of minutes to read through my paper to catch mistakes and sentences that do not flow well.”

Located only two express subway stops from the iconic United Nations complex on the East River, Pace University’s New York City Model UN program has more than a 60-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is a class, uniquely integrated into the political science curriculum within the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and aims to encourage students to develop wisdom, knowledge, skills and community for global vocation and citizenship.

“Whether our students plan to go into diplomacy, advocacy, humanitarian aid or the private sector, research, analysis and writing skills are crucial,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, assistant professor of Political Science and Model UN advisor at Pace University New York City. “Pace’s Model UN program puts particular emphasis on training students to produce excellent policy papers – key to exercising effective global citizenship.”

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About Matthew Bolton

I am assistant professor of Political Science at Pace University and author of Foreign Aid and Landmine Clearance.
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