UCLA International Institute offers new Model UN summer program for high school students
Organizers of a new summer program for high school students are hoping to ignite interest in politics and global relations, and inspire the next generation of international diplomats and foreign affairs experts.
The UCLA Model United Nations (MUN) Summer Institute, organized by the UCLA International Institute, runs June 24 to 30. MUN is an academic simulation program that teaches participants about current events, international relations, diplomacy and how the UN runs. Participants take on the roles of diplomats representing a country or NGO and play out a mock UN session, developing a deeper understanding of how nations work with one another to solve problems.
“Model United Nations is a well-established program,” says Ethan Scapellati, a fourth-year history and political science student and president of MUN at UCLA , one of the top 10 most comprehensive MUN collegiate programs in the country. “It’s the second most common extracurricular listed on student applications to UCLA.”
Scapellati, along with other executive members of MUN at UCLA, will be running the week-long program under the guidance of Professor William Summerhill, director of UCLA’s Center for Brazilian Studies and chair of the university’s Global Studies Interdepartmental Program.
Scapellati says participants will gain university-level research experience as they work to learn as much as they can about the countries they’re representing and the issues under discussion. Debating in committees, they will cover a variety of topics, including the demilitarization of conflict regions like Kashmir, HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, international human trafficking in Southeast Asia and loss of biodiversity through climate change, to name a few.
The summer institute is open to all high school students, regardless of previous Model UN experience. “Our curriculum will be tailored to accommodate all skill levels,” says Scapellati, who is also involved with organizing and running UCLA’s annual Model UN conference for high school students, the largest one of its kind on the West Coast. “We want this to be something they’ll all benefit from and something they’ll have fun with.”
Beyond learning about international conflict, cooperation and reconciliation, participants will also earn two units of University of California college credit. In addition, they’ll have ample opportunity to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills, become confident public speakers and meet peers with similar interests. The academic learning will be complemented by a variety of social and cultural activities designed for students to make the most of their time on campus and in Los Angeles, says Scapellati.
A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available to qualified California high school students. More information on the Model United Nations Summer Institute, including registration information, is available online.