BYU Model UN team wins ‘outstanding’ award in national conference

BYU’s Team Italy participates in the National Model United Nations conference of 2021. BYU’s Model U.N. class won an outstanding delegation in the international competition. (Alyssa Dahneke/BYU Photo)

The BYU Model United Nations team won an outstanding delegation award for its participation in this year’s virtual National Model United Nations conference from March 29 to 31.

According to BYU Model U.N. teaching assistant Liam Dalton, BYU has received an outstanding delegation at the conference for the last 20 years. Dalton said “outstanding” is the highest-ranking award.

The Model U.N. class at BYU teaches five skills: research, policy-writing, public speaking, diplomacy and parliamentary procedure, Dalton said.

The class is divided into committees and creates simulations of the United Nations coming to an agreement on current issues. The simulations are meant to make sure all parties are happy with the deals made, he said.

“In the class itself, you learn how to listen to other people’s arguments,” Dalton said. “You also learn how to listen intently.”

Students develop skills in negotiation, persuasion and interpersonal communication through the Model U.N. class, said program advisor Cory Leonard. “They research and draft original policy and use parliamentary rules and soft skills to build coalitions of support.”

According to Leonard, BYU has competed in the National Model U.N. conference for approximately 35 years. He said last year’s conference was canceled for the first time since World War II because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We were one and a half weeks away from taking 52 BYU students to participate with 5,000 other university students and it all ended, like with so many other things on campus,” Leonard said.

This year 1,300 students participated in the National Model U.N conference online, Leonard said. More than half of the students participated from their homes all over the world, including students from Japan who competed in the middle of the night.

Model U.N. teaching assistant Jenna Cook said Leonard and the other teachers put effort into making this year’s conference a special experience despite the pandemic. Because of their efforts, Cook said the class traveled to the BYU Salt Lake Center instead of visiting New York.

(From left to right) BYU Model U.N. program instructors William Perry, Marie Kulbeth and Cory Leonard, along with head delegate Isabella Errigo, stand together for a photo in the BYU Salt Lake Center. BYU students participated in the conference virtually from there this year rather than traveling to New York. (Cory Leonard)

Cook said the Model U.N. class is unlike any other because of the unique skills students learn. “You learn so much about negotiation, public speaking and how to work with others.”

Dalton said he would encourage students to take the class because of the three incredible people who teach it. Leonard, Marie Kulbeth and William Perry are some of the smartest, brightest teachers there are, he said.

“You would be able to learn from three of the greatest mentors and teachers at BYU,” Dalton said. “I think that should be reason enough to take the course.”

More information about BYU’s Model U.N. class is available at the Kennedy Center website.

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