International relations students find success at Model United Nations competition

Students represent five countries; first time in a decade all five delegates take home awards

5/8/2013 | By: Stephany Kirby  |

International affairs students from the University of Nevada, Reno saw firsthand how countries across the world work together at the Model United Nations competition in San Francisco, Calif. last month. The 23 students were part of an international affairs class conducted by Mike Jacobs, a doctoral student and instructor in the Political Science Department of the University's College of Liberal Arts.

The students were divided into five teams and represented Syria, Costa Rica, Sweden, Somalia and Vietnam in the Model United Nations competition, a mock United Nations, where they competed against more than 30 other colleges and universities. Each team of students was assigned a nation, which they represent as "delegates." For the first time in the University's 10-year history with the event, all five delegations won diplomacy awards.

"It's wonderful to see another group of students have success at the regional level," Eric Herzik, professor and department chair of the Political Science Department, said. "This is good news and another "win" for the University."

Each country was scored based on essays written by the team before the competition. The students had to draft resolutions, profiles and policy papers from the country's perspective which they were assigned, prior to the competition. At the competition, the students negotiated on behalf of their nation, much like a real United Nations session. The broad theme of this year's competition was, "The struggle to exist: sustainability and human rights."

The class was made up of military veterans, National Guard students, a Davidson Academy student and other international affairs students. Jacobs explained the preparation and work was mostly student run in the classrooms, with the help of previous competition participants.

"For me, this was a very positive experience," Cole Azare, a military veteran and international relations student who represented Syria, said. "What I ended up experiencing was very impressive. Of the nearly 1,000 students who came from all over the country, the vast majority of them were very interested in either policy making or international affairs. I walked out of it feeling like I had actually learned something about negotiating with people and that I had made some very long-term connections."  

Azare will be the president of the University's new Model UN Club, with the intention to expand on the concept of the current class. Azare is hopeful the club will bring the United Nations' experience to those outside of the political science program and also help find students interested in international policy to represent the University at the Model United Nations conference in the future.

"Many of the campuses which had delegations at the conference are very competitive in their selection protocols so only the best of the best are permitted to attend and represent their schools," Azare said. "We would like to see the same pride and esprit de corps in our team. We would also like to see this become another great point of pride for our University."


For more news on the University of Nevada, Reno, follow @unevadareno on Twitter.

Get Nevada Today in your Inbox!