Emily Nickel, a third-year public affairs and political management student, speaks about her experience with Model United Nations and how extracurriculars have helped her develop skills outside of the classroom. 

Although university is primarily an institution of learning, I believe it’s important to leave the confines of academia every once in a while and participate in an activity, club or society that expands on your interests, hones skills and develops friendships.

One such group is the Carleton United Nations Society. To dispel a popular myth, it isn’t just a bunch of arts students who get together once in a while to argue about international relations. The UN Society draws a diverse crowd, from engineers, to political science and graduate students. We are one of the most highly ranked teams in Canada and attend many conferences, including those held at Queens, McGill, Harvard, and most recently, at the Canadian International Model UN competition, hosted by the UN Association of Canada (UNAC). In addition to competing in these debate-style competitions, we hold special events to help fund our in-house conferences, external conferences, and educational activities. For example, this year we were privileged to have the Canadian representative to the UNHCR, Furio de Angelis, speak to us on the topic of refugees alongside Carleton professor, James Milner.

Many of our members come to the Society with little or no experience in Model UN or debate; I was one of those. However, the training sessions, which teach the fundamentals of Parliamentary Procedure (rules used in real UN committee sessions), public speaking, and the art of diplomacy, are helpful in developing skills we can use in everyday life or in future careers. The knowledge that delegates learn representing different countries and entities in Model UN bodies is transferable to class work, especially in the social sciences, although we have had non-social science students participate in bodies on technology, business, science, and the visual arts. It is also a great place to develop new skills – I was lucky enough to sit on a model International Criminal Court during my first conference, and since I was forced to learn courtroom procedure quickly, it was a lesson in international affairs and the law.

The UN Society really is for everyone – we even have critics of the UN participate actively! So if you enjoy wearing a suit, debating politics and international affairs, learning about the world around you, and travelling all over North America with future diplomats, I would encourage you to check out our website at www.unsociety.com to find out how you can get involved next year. The Society has tripled its membership since I first joined in 2010, which is a testament to the amount of fun people have at conferences and the activities we put on. If you don’t believe me, come find out for yourself – I always welcome a good debate!

Posted by Emily Nickel, a third-year public affairs and political management student.

To find out more about what clubs and societies are available on campus, please visit cusaonline.ca/clubs/


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