The Intro to Model UN consists of a 2.5 hour long session at the IAC Middle & Elementary School National Championships. Uniquely, students taking part in the Intro to Model UN can choose to compete together with a friend, who can even be from a different school (though they must be in the same grade). Students will be assigned a country (they cannot choose which one) to represent in a Model UN committee such as the Security Council, General Assembly, or United Nations Environmental Program which will debate one of the following topics. There will be up to 6 topics to choose from. After they have registered, students will be given a chance to list their order of preference. We will take a student’s preferences into account, but we cannot guarantee that a student will get their first or second topic, nor can we provide refunds if this occurs.
The topics that we are considering offering are as follows:
How You Will Be Assigned to a Topic
On the Nationals Schedule you will see that there are 3 separate Intro to Model UN blocks (one of these is split between two days into block 1A and 1B). During each block, one topic will be offered for 8th graders, one for 7th graders, and one for 6th graders. If there is sufficient interest, we will offer a second topic (so that there would then be 6 total). Certain blocks will conflict with other events, but don’t worry – we have arranged the Nationals schedule so that if you have a conflicting event at the time of one block, you will just be assigned to a different block. However, since different topics will run in different blocks for each age division, you may thus not be able to get your first choice.
How Model UN Works
The Model UN Wikipedia Article gives a good overview of Model UN as an activity. This short video also gives a good synopsis, while the website www.bestdelegate.com is generally regarded as the hub for Model UN on the internet. Because our Model UN competition is meant as a short introduction, delegates (that’s the term used for students competing in Model UN) will not need to write position papers, wear business attire, or be expected to have done extensive research on their assigned country’s positions on the topic to which they are assigned.
However, delegates will be expected to read a 10 page background guide which we will prepare on their assigned topic, attend a brief training session either online or on the evening of Thursday, May 24 at the Nationals hotel, and come with a willingness to engage in debate on important topics in global affairs.
What to Expect
In our Intro to Model UN, we will begin by taking role, and then we will open a speakers’ list, though given the 2.5 hour timeframe (typical Model UN conferences last for several days), the time will be initially limited to 30 seconds. This is a chance for delegates to see which other countries might be potential allies in drafting a resolution on the topic. After all countries have had a chance to speak once, the chair of each committee will entertain motions for caucusing. This is a chance to suspend formal debate, and then to meet with other students. The committee chair will help encourage delegates to formulate resolutions that can then be brought to the floor for debate. Towards the end of the session, the chair will encourage resolutions to be finalized, and then brought to a vote. While helping to write and support a resolution that is passed is a critical part of Model UN, what is more important is the ability to collaborate, build consensus, and contribute to debate. At the end of the session, the Chair will award prizes to the top delegates, including the traditional gavel which is given at Model UN conferences to the Best Delegate.
IAC’s Intro to Model UN program is coordinated by longtime IAC staffer Shravan Balaji. During his time as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Shravan was named to the National Collegiate Model UN All-Star Team. Shravan has coordinated historical simulations (which are similar to Model UN) at three separate International History Olympiads and currently works in the field of renewable energy investments in New York City.
IAC’s Executive Director, David Madden, competed in Model UN at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey, on the Model UN team at Princeton University as an undergraduate and Public Policy Studies major, and on the team at the Free University of Berlin, Germany while studying for his master’s degree in international relations.
Shravan and David will be assisted by an experienced staff of Model UN veterans who will be your committee chairs next May in Orlando.
Costs, Registration, and Contact
The cost to take part in the Intro to Model UN Program at the 2024 National Championships is $95 if registration takes place prior to the end of 2023; otherwise it is $99. Registration for the National Championships runs through early May on this page. Nationals weekend will also feature many other events, including the Opening Ceremonies, a Family Quiz Night, Universal Studios Night, various talks and receptions, and the Jeopardy! Charity Games. A full schedule of the 2024 Nationals Events is available here.
For all questions on the Intro to Model UN competition at the 2024 IAC Middle and Elementary School National Championships, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.