A Look at EthicalMUN

24 May 2018
ByIva K '20Theo D '20

Since September, along with the rest of the Fieldston Model United Nations club and our faculty advisor Dr. Blaney, we (Theo Dassin and Iva Knezevic, IV), have been planning our second annual middle school Model UN conference, dubbed EthicalMUN. Following the mission of our school, the conference is rooted in ethics and the discussion of moral issues. In October, we asked our staff to come up with some ideas for committees. We finally decided on committees discussing and acting on the following: the corruption and lack of transparency in FIFA, the crisis started by Mexican War on drugs, how to repair the Venezuelan economic and humanitarian crisis, how the United States Intelligence Community can combat terrorism, how to mend the factional divisions that occured in 15th century Japan, the Cold War and how to repair US-USSR relations, the Indo-Pakistani war and how to stabilize that region, and finally, a committee discussing Apple INC's actions and how they can lead the technological world in a stable and ethical direction. Each of these issues were complex and multi-faceted and also required the middle schoolers to produce solutions that were not only ethically and morally sound, but were also plausible in the real world.

Once we chose these topics, the hard work had only just begun. Each committee team, (about 3-5 people,) had to write a background guide - a roughly 20 page research paper that sums up everything about the issue at hand. Background guides are useful for two reasons: first, they give our staff an opportunity to become experts on their topic, and second, they give the middle schoolers a good starting place for their own research. As background guides were being written, we were involved in the long and difficult outreach and recruitment process. Since there is no database that holds the contact information of Model UN faculty advisors in the tri-state area (or any other area for that matter), we had to reach out to schools and students we knew individually. However, by the time registration had closed, we had eight schools and 150 middle school students signed up, which was double the attendance of last year. After months of hard work, from emailing delegates and faculty advisors, to printing placards and documents for folders, to organizing meals for 200 people, and late nights drafting speeches and setting up the campus for the conference, we were finally ready to host EthicalMUN II.

The first day went perfectly. Despite the rainy weather, the sharply-dressed EthicalMUN staff brought our campus to life, leading the delegates from their cars with umbrellas and smiles on their faces. Opening ceremonies began, and as Co-Secretary-Generals, we were to give the opening speech. We discussed how life-changing Model UN has been for us and emphasized our conference's ethical mission, encouraging delegates to keep those ideals in mind throughout their debate. After our speech, our phenomenal keynote speaker, Ms. Mona Sutphen, delivered hers. Ms. Sutphen served as White House Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama and as a Foreign Service officer under President Clinton. Ms. Sutphen's speech was the best we had ever heard at a Model UN conference. She was engaged and relatable, and during the question and answer session after her speech, so many students got up to ask questions, that we had to cut her off in order to stay on schedule.

The day continued, and as we walked around we were able to witness heated debate, valiant public speeches, and impressive examples of diplomacy. All of these things only got more intense and intelligent on the second day. By the end of the conference, the Venezuelan Economic Crisis committee brought political and economic stability back to region, the Apple INC Board of Directors brought even more success to the company, creating a new type of virtual reality technology and an iPhone 11, and the Mexican War on Drugs committee successfully saved the life of a beauty queen and hostages, resolved a cartel battle in a park, improved policing in Mexico, and dealt with an epidemic of a new opioid. Overall, this conference was an incredibly rewarding experience from which we learned more than we ever thought we could, from administrative to leadership skills, and it is something that we will never forget. We cannot wait until next year!