The United Nations come into your own living room! Such was the name of the game for 23 students of the "Intercultural Communication and European Studies" (ICEUS) Master program of the Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences last weekend. In the Alberta Intercollegiate Model United Nations (AIMUN), a UN simulation game, the students played the roles of diplomats from different states of the UN. To do this, they had beforehand extensively researched their countries’ political positions and prepared intensively. The Fulda students represented the eleven countries Russia, Brazil, South Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Colombia, India, Australia, Sweden and Costa Rica. The UN Club of MacEwan University Edmonton (Canada) organised the international conference, which took place online due to the pandemic. On two afternoons and well into the evening and the night (German time), the ICEUS Seniors met students from the University of Guelph-Humber Ontario (Canada), the Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University, the National University Kyiv Mohyla Academy and the Ukraine Catholic University (all three Ukraine), ITESO - Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara and the Universidad Iberoamericana, Leon (both Mexico). Together they worked out and passed six resolutions on the subject of "Climate Change: Mitigating its economic, environmental and social effects" and were able to gain valuable experience in negotiating and international diplomacy.
The conference began on Saturday late in the afternoon German time (due to the different time zones, in Canada it was 9:00 a.m. at that time) with an opening ceremony. Dr. Melike Schalomon, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at MacEwan University, urged all participants to adopt a more global perspective, to familiarize themselves with international issues and to always reflect critically. She also emphasized the importance of cooperation and mutual understanding as well as of joint action. Further greetings came from Sean Waddingham, President of the Students ’Association at MacEwan University, and from Dr. Chaldeans Mensah, Faculty Advisor of the UN Club of MacEwan University. This was followed by a detailed presentation on the conference topic by activists Maryam and Nivaal Rehman, who founded “The World with MNR”, before the students could become active themselves.
Roll call, talk and negotiate
After the first call of the delegates, the Ceremonial Roll Call, each of the delegations was given the opportunity to present their own position. In a 90-second opening speech, the students explained which measures the countries they represent have already implemented and which further goals and ideas they have to limit climate change. Numerous discussions, negotiations and work on working papers and resolutions in virtual breakout rooms followed. The students were able to move back and forth between the virtual rooms and work together with the various delegates. Numerous short speeches were given during the formal sessions of the General Assembly. These offered further opportunities to present the position of the state and cooperation.
On Sunday evening, the conference participants met again after a long night. There, too, was diligent negotiation and drafts for resolutions were worked on. In the end, it was possible to vote on six draft resolutions, all of which were adopted. The conference ended with a keynote speech from Heather McPherson, a member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona. She highlighted MUN as an “excellent tool” and emphasized how the conference can help to strengthen various soft skills such as arguing and debating. In addition, several awards were presented at the official closing ceremony. The ICEUS students Haya Khraes and Angeli Geißelhardt, who represented Switzerland, were honoured for the best position paper. Costa Rica, represented by ICEUS students Lucas Ricardo Perry Lalanne and Sonja-Monique Schackla, was awarded for the best opening speech. In addition, Australia, represented by ICEUS students Nathalie Kohlhert and Lena Fockers, and Columbia, represented by ICEUS Seniors Dayana Camila Tudor Gomez, Fadwa Mamouni and Particia Tavier Fairburn, were recognized as outstanding delegations. "AIMUN was a once in a lifetime experience during my journey as a student. I think it is the best opportunity to practice many skills that we will need in the near future such as: diplomatic behaviour, being much more open and collaborative, working together with different people for a common goal. I would definitely recommend it to other students.", says Zhylien Kaja, one of the ICEUS students.
The preparations for the conference took place during the course "Alberta Intercollegiate Model United Nations (AIMUN)" during the winter semester. The course was offered as an alternative to the pandemic-related cancellation of the usual excursion to Brussels and was given by Prof. Claudia Wiesner with the assistance of Clara Umstätter and Muriel C. Pluschke. “Normally we would have gone to Brussels this semester to get to know transnational politics and the actions of supranational organizations on site. Instead, we have now done it virtually. The students learned a tremendous amount and - as the awards show - they were also very successful ", says Prof. Wiesner happily..
Cooperation since 2019
The cooperation between the Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences and MacEwan University exists since a delegation from Fulda took part in NMUN Erfurt in November 2019. In addition to joint online seminars in the summer semester 2020, two smaller joint online conferences have already been held (in November 2020 and January 2021). The university is also one of the partners in the recently launched large-scale DAAD project “Transnational Governance and Human Rights”. The aim of the project is to expand international cooperation between the Faculty and the entire Fulda University of Applied Sciences and to anchor it sustainably by the end of 2024. This is supported by almost one million euros in funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) through their HAW.International project line. With regard to the UN Club of MacEwan University, joint online seminars and joint participation in (N)MUNs, possibly with mixed delegations, are planned for the future.