Another year of Gordon Honors at Harvard Model UN

National Model UN competitors recently debated solutions to some of the most crucial issues facing the globe, at the 61st annual Harvard National Model United Nations 2015 (HNMUN). Though Model UN conferences are hosted across the world in cities such as Beijing, New Delhi and Tel Aviv, it is Boston’s four-day Model UN that is regarded as the preeminent simulation of its kind in the world. The international conference brought 3,000 registered delegates from over 70 countries to the city of Boston, and as is tradition, Gordon College was well represented and ready to compete. This year’s simulation marked the first time Gordon won two awards at a HNMUN conference.  They included Outstanding Delegate on Press Corps, and an Honorable Mention for representing Madagascar on the General Assembly Special Summit on Technology. Highly coveted, these awards signify excellence in research, parliamentary procedure, and diplomatic practice. To date, Gordon has received six awards since it began competing in 2005.

Gordon’s delegation this year included the 19 students enrolled in International Diplomacy: The Model United Nations (POL246) course taught by Professor Paul Brink in the Department of Political Science. Gordon’s delegation was assigned to represent the African countries of Libya and Madagascar, and one Gordon student represented Al Jazeera as a Press Corps conference reporter. Undertaking intense negotiations and speeches focused on passing a single resolution on each committee, and debating topics ranging from International Reactions to Ethnic Crises to Water Management and Security, students gained a very real understanding of the complexities surrounding international diplomacy. According to Brink—who calls Harvard’s Model UN the “Super Bowl of Model UN competitions”—the simulation is an unusual opportunity for students to translate classroom experiences into practice.

The conference also provides an opportunity to hear from and learn from students from all over the world. “Gordon students mix with the brightest and the best from top universities from around the world,” shares Brink. “And wonderfully, Gordon students not only hold their own, but they excel each year.”

Perhaps the most challenging and rewarding part of the Model UN experience is taking on the mindset of a country not your own, in order to represent faithfully that country’s position. Reflecting on her experience, Hannah Wardell (’17)—who in her Model UN role as Madagascar’s representative to a summit on technology won Gordon College its Honorable Mention HNMUN award—called it “a weekend of practicing what I learn in the classroom: how to act ethically in an incredibly competitive environment, do diplomacy honestly, and balance self-interest and the common good.” This is the second consecutive year that a Gordon woman has received a Harvard Model UN Award. Last year, Dawn Cianci ’14 won the Best Delegate award among students representing Arab League nations. Cianci was the first female Gordon student to win a Harvard Model UN Award. In 2010, Gordon College took home its first Best Delegate award when David Denison ’11 served as the Tanzanian representative to the UN Development Committee.

Last year Gordon’s delegates represented Saudi Arabia and in 2013, they represented Tunisia. Other countries represented by Gordon students have included Angola, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Gabon. Gordon also offers a Model UN Club for students interested in competing at the international club level.

 Photo: Boston Marriott Copley Place, Harvard Model United Nations 2015, Gordon College delegation and other competitors

Story by Abigail Nash ’15, a business administration and political science double major; and Cyndi McMahon, Office of College Communications