Students win awards at Model UN conference

Joseph Shepherd won an award for Exceptional Representation at the Model UN conference. Vanguard Photo | Karlee Gourd

Kone’ Bowman and Joseph Shepherd, two political science juniors, won an Exceptional Representation award at the American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago last semester.

Model UN is an annual conference where delegates from universities across the country debate over topics chosen by their respective countries. This year, SVSU represented Sri Lanka.

Stewart French, an associate professor of political science and Model UN facilitator, said SVSU runs Model UN as a course during the fall semester.

“Students simulate committee meetings, research their committee topics for the country they represent, write resolutions and do a lot of public speaking with feedback,” he said. “Most of these students will find themselves in rooms with 200-250 people making speeches.”

French said that because Model UN is a difficult competition, he works with his students to grow rather than win.

“American Model United Nations is a very tough competition to win awards at,” French said. “For the class, we like to focus on real world skills, and I actively avoid training our students for chasing awards. My goal – and theirs – is to build up valuable life skills like public speaking, diplomatic interactions with other people working for their own goals, compromise, writing public policy and researching topics to find the solutions.”

Shepherd said he believed the experience will help in his career aspirations.

“This will undoubtedly help me in my future legal progression by allowing me to become comfortable with public speaking, research, debate and caucusing,” he said.

Shepherd said he hopes Model UN becomes more widely recognized as a great program at SVSU.

“In future competitions, we want Model UN to have a larger audience of students interested and competing,” Shepherd said. “We want to bring home many more awards so that many students are aware of the amazing organization we have.”

French said he has seen his students transform and grow within the program.

“We have had great success with the program,” he said. “Students spend about 25 hours in simulation over four days. I have seen students turn from quiet and shy people into outgoing and confident individuals. Our alumni frequently talk about how taking part in Model UN gave them confidence in their post-graduate careers and … a leg up on their co-workers.”

During the winter semester, Model UN runs as a club and competes in the Model Arab League, hosted in Toronto. Shepherd and Bowman said they plan on participating in this league as well.

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