Mount Madonna School (MMS), with help from the Lyceum of Monterey County, hosted its first Model United Nations (MUN) mini-conference for middle school students in May 2022. “Mini-MUN” was a half-day event with students representing different countries and problem-solving real-world issues to foster communication and collaboration with other student delegates. One goal for this conference was to provide an opportunity for middle school students to experience the workings of the United Nations without the pressure of being at a full conference.
Since 2019, middle school history teacher Chrislaine Miller has implemented a MUN curriculum in world history for sixth and seventh grade students to prepare for the Lyceum’s annual middle school conference that takes place on the campus of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. The Lyceum’s tradition to host a middle school conference is unique to the region and has been serving students for the past 11 years. This experience prepares students for the larger high school conferences that take place each year at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and across the country. Miller teaches students to research a United Nations member country and learn about one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to develop a position and points of negotiation that they can use during the conference.
Unfortunately, due to a spring time increase in the number of COVID cases, the Lyceum’s MUN conference was canceled. To salvage the hard work that students did during the 2021-22 school year in preparation, Miller partnered with the Lyceum’s MUN program director and coordinator, Chelsea Seagal and Emily Ham, and enlisted Lisa Martin, founder of MUN Impact and the new MMS lower school director, to serve as the conference keynote speaker and give MMS students an in-person experience with MUN.
Rather than have multiple committees working on different SDG topics, the May conference focused on UN-SDG 13 and “The Role of Youth in the Paris Climate Agreement.” During the half-day event, students discussed possible solutions for getting a particular country’s youth involved in efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. Unlike the full conference preparations, students could choose to write either a formal position paper, a short essay in which they outlined their country’s position about the topic, or simply outline in bullets their major points that they would use during the debate. This modified form gave students who were new to MUN a chance to ease into the process of formal debate and also have something they could use to help write a resolution, the summary document that student delegates write in MUN that simulates the actual process for how solutions can be voted on and passed in committee.
About 15 students served as student delegates for the conference, representing France, Israel, Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland, Haiti, Spain, Denmark, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Sri Lanka and Iran. Student delegates debated a variety of topics including whether each member government should push harder on supporting green energy for their country by building solar and wind power plants. Students wrote several resolutions that ultimately articulated a plan for getting more student leaders to address climate change at the government level. The conference ended with student awards for best delegates, including seventh graders Delmi McWilliams, Noa Zands, Romy Sirk-Traugh and Kenzie Culbertson, as well as outstanding sixth grade participants, Marlowe Yen and Rory Kayne.
Mount Madonna School is proud to be launching its 2022-23 Model United Nations Program. This youth-driven initiative will include the development of MUN culture in Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara and San Benito counties, with a focus on sustainable development, education for global citizenship and community action and service.
Mount Madonna’s goal for the 2022-23 school year is for its MUN program to engage students in the region to learn about critical global issues and collaborative problem solving using MUN pedagogy. There will be further emphasis on linking global issues to the region’s unique challenges and fostering intergenerational conversations between current and future leaders.
Beginning in October, MMS will host a one-day training conference that is open to middle and high school students in the Monterey Bay region. The goal of the conference is to provide an orientation to MUN, skill-building workshops on research techniques, speech writing and public speaking, and conclude with a mock debate. We will hear from an expert on regional food insecurity so that participants understand how the larger global issue of hunger manifests itself in our own community.
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Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.