Model UN Hosts Crisis Conference; Students Experience Hands-On Learning

By Hannah Benson

The International Crisis Conference at Elon, a hands-on model crisis conference put on for International Relations and Political Science students came to Elon just yesterday. The conference is one of the most respected student-led events in Elon’s Department of Political Science and Policy Studies.

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Elon sophomore Matt Kimball leading his delegation.

Students from varying levels of classes in these disciplines come together once per semester to participate in the lifelike simulation.

The conference is put on toward the end of each semester by the students in the Model United Nations Class-Club hybrid as a mandatory event in order to pass the class. The students in Model UN have a variety of positions to choose from, being everything from the News Team, constantly posting updates from the conference on a mock news source, the Diplomatic Corps, who pass messages between members of their delegation and lead members to secret meetings in buildings around campus. The structure of the conference goes so that the Model UN students provide the situations and classes of students in the International Relations curriculum are placed into the simulation to act as they see fit.

The conference pushes students to act as though they’re in the thick of actual foreign relations, and strict rules apply to maintain this type of realism. For instance, students 10426902_384810858364581_1195700027103182578_n.jpgare told to dress in Business Casual attire and speak to one another with the dialect observed by Model UN students, with phrases like, “motion to..” and, “organized caucus”. In addition, students from other delegations aren’t permitted to speak to one another outside of the bounds of an organized meeting, and these meet-ups cannot go on without the presence of a Diplomatic Corps representative who reports the information back to the full delegation with detailed notes.

Sophomore Lilly Denunzio, former ICCE participant had this to say about her experience:

“I thought the crisis conference was both engaging and eye-opening. I had never been exposed to what it might like to be on a delegation for a country engaged in some kind of crisis where calculated decisions had to be made on the fly.”

Denunzio was a student in Model United Nations and International Relations her first year when she participated in the conference, so she got the rare position of seeing preparations for the conference on one side and participation in it on the other side.

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Students in the thick of negotiations.

Elon sophomore Alejandro Ramos, who acted as the director of foreign intelligence for his delegation, spoke to the conference as being informative and more engaging his second time around.

“I participated in ICCE for the second time this semester,” Ramos says, “and I definitely learned more about diplomacy this time. I felt more qualified to speak about the topics and negotiate with other people. Last time I was kind of lost in the thick of it, but I felt more confident and capable this time. I think it’s one of the best ways to get engaged in the field I’m studying.”

“I was taking an international relations course during the semester ICCE was held,” said Denunzio, “so having this experiential opportunity to apply course content in a relevant and realistic way was very valuable.”

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