Today’s guest post is by David Jason Gershkoff Slusky, a graduate student in the Department of Economics at Princeton University and a former president of the Yale International Relations Association, where he was SCSY Secretary General and an award-winning member of MUNTY.
Why don’t more grad students do Model UN?
Model UN was my favorite extracurricular activity when I was in high school and college. I made some of my best friends through Model UN and the skills and knowledge I gained continue to help me pursue my career goals.
I know that many of my graduate school colleagues also loved Model UN when they were younger, too, but why aren’t more of us still involved? Here are some reasons why both graduate students and Model UN organizations can benefit from increase collaboration:
What’s in it for graduate students?
1. We miss Model UN! Many graduate students spent up to eight years devoting countless hours to preparing for, competing at, and organizing Model UN conferences. They loved it and overwhelmingly miss it.
2. Model UN is useful. Model UN is often the best mix of academic, rhetorical competitiveness and cooperation and teamwork. Lots of graduate students made the career choices they did because of the content and skills they gained doing Model UN, and so want to help support future generations.
3. Model UN is a great way to show school spirit. Graduate students are loyal to their college and to their graduate school and want to support their organizations and teams.
4. We can’t participate in Model UN like we used to. Very few graduate students are able to staff or attend conferences they way they did as undergrads, due to familial, professional, social or other logistical reasons, and so need new, tailored ways to participate.
5. Helping out in a professional role can be academic service. Graduate students are often looking for productive forms of academic service (e.g. committees, student government) and being involved with a Model UN organization in an official, experience appropriate capacity would likely qualify.
What’s in it for Model UN teams and programs?
6. Grad students have deep content expertise. Model UN programs often have a gap between the content knowledge of undergrads and the hard-to-schedule, limited available faculty. Graduate students would be a natural intermediate group.
7. Model UN needs more small group discussions. Conferences could be augmented to include smaller discussion groups with subject-experts, something faculty probably wouldn’t do and undergrads likely wouldn’t have the gravitas or background to do
8. Speaker dinners benefit from experts. Often a guest speaker has dinner with a small group of students. What better way to make that speaker feel more welcome than a pool of knowledgeable graduate to draw on to increase the level of the conversation? For example, a dinner with a speaker from the World Bank could include an economics graduate student, or a dinner with a human rights expert could include an anthropology graduate student.
9. Model UN always wants more alumni outreach. This is a spectacular way to get alumni more involved, which can improve multigenerational camaraderie and intuitional memory, and create future development opportunities
10. This is a great way to connect to a broader campus community. Including graduate students would also grow the on-campus Model UN community, including involving more individuals in key organizational events (e.g. end of year banquet).
I’ve discussed why grad students should do Model UN; in my next post, I’ll offer some suggestions for how grad students can get back into Model UN.
What do you think about getting help from grad students in your Model UN club? Let us know in the comments below!