In the News

Baylor Traveling Team Excels at 2014 National MUN Conference

On April 12-18, Sixteen Baylor University students traveled to New York to participate in the National Model United Nations Conference. Baylor represented Belize at the conference, and students researched and discussed issues such as: chemical weapons, agriculture development and food security, green transportation, sustainable production of biofuels, and violence against women. The team roster and photo taken at the United Nations General Assembly Hall is below. 

While the learning experience is always the most important part of these conferences and awards are not the emphasis of the conference or our team, the entire team was recognized as a “Distinguished Delegation”. Only a small percentage of delegations receive any recognition as an Outstanding, Distinguished or Honorable Mention Delegation at this conference, so this is a noteworthy achievement. In addition to the team recognition, two of the position papers submitted to the conference were named “Outstanding Position Paper” – those for General Assembly Second Committee and General Assembly Third Committee. The full list of the award-winning authors can be found below; it includes some students who did not travel to New York but whose research contributions were important to the team award.

NMUN_2014 Travel

Top Row (L to R): Ben Betner (Senior, Political Science), Paul Schlaudraff (Senior, Baylor Business Fellows/Accounting), Tyler Kopas (Senior, Baylor Model United Nations Head Delegate, Professional Sales Major), Laura Beth Hooper (Junior, Baylor Model United Nations Assistant Head Delegate, International Studies), Emily Brizzolara-Dove (Junior, International Studies), Rebekah Stryker (Senior - Political Science), Tiffany Clark (MA in IR), Sikiru Alagbada (Senior, Economics), Marc Webb (Freshman, International Studies), Caleb Gunnels (Junior - Political Science)

Bottom Row (L to R): Ruth Anne Holiday (Junior, International Studies), Taylor Marie Hanson (Senior, Political Science), Jessica Abbey (Junior, Journalism), Mary Margaret Hambuchen (Junior, Journalism), Renie Saenz (Sophomore, History), Ren Young (Senior, Political Science)

Award Winning Position Paper Authors

General Assembly Second Committee

SK Alagbada (Senior, Economics)

Matt DeMond (Senior, Economics)

Michael Saporito (Senior, Political Science)

Seti Tesefay (Junior, International Studies)

Ren Young (Senior, Political Science

General Assembly Third Committee

Lola Akere (Sophomore, Political Science)

Taylor Marie Hanson (Senior, Political Science)

Caitlin Prud'homme (Senior, Political Science)

Kristin Roland (Senior, Political Science)

Marc Webb (Freshman, International Studies)

Model UN team shines at Howard Payne Conference

The last weekend of March 2014, 11 Baylor students took part in a Model United Nations Security Council simulation at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. The team represented Baylor very well and earned top awards.

At the conference, there were two Security Council simulations. The first was a Contemporary Security Council discussing nuclear non-proliferation and sanctions in Iran, with Baylor students representing the nations of Australia, China and South Korea.

The second Security Council simulation was a Historical Security Council discussing events surrounding international intervention in Vietnam in 1964, with Baylor students representing China and Norway.

While the learning experience is always the most important part of these conferences, it is an honor for Baylor students to be recognized for their excellent performance. They claimed the top awards in every division.

Special recognition goes to Rebekah Stryker and Ryan Gerlach (both seniors in political science), who represented the Republic of Korea and won Best Delegation and Best Policy Memo in the Contemporary Security Council.

Other special recognition goes to Caleb Gunnels (junior, political science) and Eric Vining (freshman, political science), who represented China and earned Best Delegation and Best Policy Memo awards in the Historical Security Council.

Meanwhile, Laura Beth Hooper (Baylor MUN assistant head delegate and a junior in international studies) served as co-chair for the Contemporary Simulation.

2013_MUN March Team

Top Row (L to R): Laura Beth Hooper (Baylor MUN Assistant Head Delegate, Junior - International Studies), Kate Farley (Freshman - University Scholars), Lola Akere (Sophomore - Political Science), Rebekah Stryker (Senior - Political Science), Caleb Gunnels (Junior - Political Science ), Eric Vining (Freshman - Political Science)

Bottom Row (L to R): Caroline Caywood (Freshman - International Studies), Abigail Wilson (Junior - International Studies), Jessica Abbey (Junior - Journalism), Seti Tesefay (Junior - International Studies), Ryan Gerlach (Senior - Political Science )

The 11 students who attended the conference represented Baylor in an exemplary manner. It’s especially noteworthy that for nine of the 11 students, this was their first collegiate Model United Nations conference. In mid-April, 16 Baylor students will travel to New York City for the National Model United Nations conference, where they will represent Belize.

Thanks to the University for its support of this program, which advances common goals under the Pro Futuris vision by educating students for informed engagement through transformational learning experiences.

Fourteen Baylor students participate in AMUN Conference

On November 22-26, 14 Baylor University students traveled to Chicago to participate in the American Model United Nations Conference, which brings together more than 1,000 college students to participate in a simulation of the United Nations. These 14 students competed in a field of more than 30 Baylor students to earn a spot on this semester’s traveling team.

As Baylor MUN Head Delegate, Tyler Kopas (Senior, Professional Selling) noted, “This was the first collegiate national MUN conference for 9 of the 14 students participating, making this a very ‘young’ team, but this means in the spring we will have up to 14 returning veteran conference participants who will have experience negotiating, speaking, and writing at a large MUN conference.”

Tiffany Clark (Master’s Student in International Relations), has participated in five collegiate MUN conferences as an undergraduate and a now a graduate student at Baylor, and she echoed Tyler’s enthusiasm about this year’s team. She noted, “Baylor is a smaller team compared to some of the other schools represented at AMUN, but we worked hard to be leaders in all committees. I cannot wait to see the work that is accomplished in New York at NMUN in the spring.”

One of the first-time participants, Sikiru Alagbada (Senior, Economics) represented Baylor in the General Assembly Second Committee, said of the experience: “Preparing for the conference helped me hone my researching skills, while caucusing and giving speeches at the actual conference helped sharpen my negotiation and public speaking skills. It was a great experience and I thank Baylor for the opportunity."

In keeping with our team’s tradition of seeking to represent a new nation each semester to maximize the learning experience, at the conference, our students participated in the simulation as Kyrgyzstan. In this role, the students discussed issues such as: counter-terrorism strategies, eliminating malaria, managing conventional weapons stockpiles, promoting science and technology for development, eliminating torture, promoting children’s rights, and considering the effects of atomic radiation. For a full list of conference topics, visit this website:

While the learning experience is always the most important part of these conferences and bringing home awards is not what AMUN emphasizes or what our team emphasizes, we are proud to recognize two students’ individual accomplishments at conference. Tyler Kopas (Senior, Professional Selling and Baylor MUN Head Delegate) was recognized as “Outstanding Delegate” by his committee, which is the highest award that an individual student can be given at this conference. For the second year in a row the students participating in the simulation of the International Court of Justice elected Tiffany Clark (Master’s Student in International Relations) to serve as their President, which required she guide the group through their deliberations as they crafted opinions in their three cases. When asked about the experience, she said this was “was one of my best conference experiences during my time with Baylor Model UN. I was honored to be elected President of the International Court of Justice simulation and even more honored to work with committee members who were incredibly bright and had researched the cases very thoroughly. We considered three cases, ranging from resource management and territory claims to the legality of Kosovo’s claim for independence from Serbia. Debate over these cases was extensive, and I really appreciated the fact that my fellow justices were not afraid to critique each other’s arguments and even be willing to dissent from the majority opinion. It made the entire experience much more realistic.”

In the Spring, Baylor MUN will travel to two conferences, the Second Annual Howard Paine University Security Council Simulation (nations TBA) and the National Model United Nations Conference, where we will represent Belize.

2013_AMUN Traveling

Front Row (L to R): Tiffany Clark (MA in IR), Mary Margaret Hambuchen (Junior - Journalism), Ruth Anne Holiday (Junior - International Studies), Renie Saenz (Sophomore - History), Julie James (Senior - International Studies), Hanna Mullikin (Junior - International Studies)

Back Row (L to R): Eric Vining (Freshman - Political Science), Marc Webb (Freshman - International Studies), Tyler Kopas (Senior - Baylor Model United Nations Head Delegate - Professional Sales Major), Emily Brizzolara-Dove (Junior - International Studies), Matt Demond (Junior - Economics), Shehan Jeyarajah (Sophomore - Political Science), Sikiru Alagbada (Senior - Economics), Anthony Severin (Junior - Political Science)

Model United Nations team excels in national competition in New York City

In March 2013, 17 Baylor students traveled to New York to participate in the National Model United Nations Conference, which brings together more than 5,000 college students from around the world to participate in two week-long simulations of the United Nations. Our students represented the nations of Slovakia and South Africa, and they discussed issues such as the illicit trade of small arms, international drug trafficking, food security and the nuclear situation in North Korea, along with other topics.

At the conference, all of our students excelled and represented Baylor well. While the learning experience is always the most important part of these conferences, and awards are not the emphasis of the conference or our team, we are proud to announce that the entire team was recognized as an “Honorable Mention Delegation.” Only a small percentage of delegations receive any recognition as an Outstanding, Distinguished or Honorable Mention Delegation at this conference, so this is a noteworthy achievement.

In addition to the team recognition, several students’ individual accomplishments deserve specific mention. Mariam Erkin (senior, International Studies), Laurabeth Hooper (sophomore, International Studies), Sharita Khaira (senior, International Studies) and Tyler Kopas (junior, Professional Selling and Baylor MUN Head Delegate) were recognized as “Outstanding Delegates” by their committees. This is the highest award that an individual student can be given at a Model UN conference.

In addition to the in-committee award, Khaira and Kopas were also recognized with an Outstanding Position Paper award. The position paper is a short policy memo researched and prepared in advance of the conference.

Special thanks go to the Department of Political Science, the International Studies program, and the College of Arts & Sciences for providing generous financial support enabling us to take these students to the conference. We are grateful for this support which makes Baylor Model UN a truly merit-based team, meaning any student who earns a spot on the team is able to attend, regardless of his or her personal financial resources.

2013 MUN Team

The Baylor Model United Nations 2013 NMUN Traveling Team includes: Kelsie Benjamin (senior, Political Science); Ben Betner (junior, Political Science); Tiffany Clark (graduate student in International Relations); Brady Desko (senior, Economics); Logan Dewitt (senior, Political Science); Mariam Erkin (senior, International Studies); Ruth Anne Holiday (sophomore, International Studies); Laurabeth Hooper (sophomore, International Studies); Sharita Khaira (sophomore, International Studies); Tyler Kopas (junior, Baylor Model UN head delegate, Professional Sales major); Cagney McCauley (senior, Baylor Model UN assistant head delegate, Biology major); Adi Raj (senior, University Scholar); Renie Saenz (freshman, History); Brent Salter (senior, Journalism/International Studies); Paul Schlaudraff (junior, Baylor Business Fellows/Accounting); Anthony Severin (junior, Political Science); and Dimitri Vaynshteyn (senior, Political Science). Not pictured: Adj Raj (senior, University Scholar).

Howard Payne Model United Nations Security Council Simulation

Seven Baylor students traveled to Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas to participate in the inaugural Howard Payne Model United Nations Security Council Simulation during the first weekend of March 2013. At the conference, Baylor students represented the nations of Russia, Rwanda and Togo, and their participation in the simulation involved researching emergency responses to terrorist attacks on oil pipelines and the resulting impact of these hypothetical attacks on the world economy. While the learning experience is always the most important part of these conferences, it is an honor for our students to be recognized for their excellent performance.

Special recognition goes to: Laura Beth Hooper and Ryan Hebert for being selected Outstanding Delegation for their representation of the Russian Federation; Laaron Backry and Matt Demond for being named "Honorable Mention" for Best Delegate in their representation of Togo and Rwanda; and Laaron Backry and Vanessa Azodo for having the "Honorable Mention" Policy Memo for their recommendations as the delegation from Togo. Cagney McCauley, our Assistant Head Delegate, served as a chair for the conference.

This conference kicks off a busy month for Baylor Model UN. ON the 23rd of March, 17 Baylor students will travel to New York for the National Model United Nations conference, where we will represent Slovakia and South Africa.


Bottom Row (L to R): Laura Beth Hooper (Sophomore - International Studies), Ruth Anne Holiday (Sophomore - International Studies), Vanessa Azodo (Freshman - Pre-Biology)

Top Row (L to R): Ryan Hebert (Senior - Economics), Matt Demond (Sophomore - Economics), Cagney McCauley (Senior - Biology), Laaron Backry (Senior - Political Science)

Baylor Students Shine at Chicago Conference

In November 2012 at the American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago, IL, thirteen Baylor students worked alongside more than 1,000 university students from around the United States ( The students represented the nation of Iceland and in their role researched contemporary topics facing the international community including: violence against women, land mines, food security, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation. For a complete list of conference topics, visit this website:

Several students' accomplishments deserve specific mention. Tiffany Clark, a Master's in International Relations student, was named to the position of President of the International Court of Justice for the conference. Six of our students were in committees that were named "Outstanding Delegations," a designation that is the highest award given at Model UN conferences. These students are: Tyler Kopas (Junior, Professional Selling), Laurabeth Hooper (Sophomore, International Studies), Adi Raj (Senior, University Scholar), Paul Schlaudraff (Junior, Baylor Business Fellow/Accounting), Cagney McCauley (Senior, Biology), and Sharita Khaira (Senior, International Studies).

2012 MUN Team

Front row (left to right): Dimitri Vaynshteyn (Political Science), Laurabeth Hooper (International Studies), Tiffany Clark (MA in IR), Sharita Khaira (International Studies), Adi Raj (University Scholar), Mariam Erkin (International Studies)
Back row (left to right): Tyler Kopas (Baylor Model United Nations Head Delegate, Professional Sales Major), Paul Schlaudraff (Baylor Business Fellows/Accounting), Logan Dewitt (Political Science), Brent Salter (Journalism/International Studies), Cagney McCauley (Baylor Model United Nations Assistant Head Delegate, Biology Major), Andrew Figliuzzi (International Studies), Austin Malone (Political Science)

Baylor Recognized as "Outstanding Delegation" at New York Conference

At the National Model United Nations Conference in New York, April 3-7, 2012, Baylor represented Mali, and, for the second year in a row, the team was recognized as an "Outstanding Delegation" - the highest award the conference gives to participating schools. In addition to group recognition, Cagney McCauley received an outstanding position paper award for the Conference on Sustainable Development.

2012 National MUN Conference

Photo taken inside the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York.
Bottom Row (L to R): Poonam Patel, Sharita Khaira, Kelsie Benjamin, Jourdan Sanford
Middle Row (L to R): Priscilla Banning, Tiffany Clark, Jessie Campbell, Matthew Marzak, Rance Norton
Back Row (L to R): Adi Raj, Brent Salter, Tyler Kopas, Cagney McCauley, Andrew Figliuzzi, Austin Malone

Baylor Recognized at Southern Regional Model United Nations Conference - November 2011

At the Southern Regional Model United Nations Conference in Atlanta, Baylor represented Gabon. Overall, Baylor MUN was named Honorable Mention, and in two of the committees our students received individual awards. In the Commission on the Status of Women, Jessie Campbell and Adi Raj were named Outstanding Delegation in Committee. In the Commission on Sustainable Development, Cagney McCauley was named Honorable Mention.
In addition to this recognition, three members of Baylor MUN were chosen to serve in leadership capacities at the conference. Katy Johnson and James Blair served as Committee Chairs, and Rob Ekewerekwu served as a Rapporteur.

2011 Southern Regional MUN Conference

Btm row (L to R): Katy Johnson Stevick, Sharita Khaira, Priscilla Banning, Jessie Campbell, Adi Raj, and Tiffany Clark
Top row (L to R): James Blair, Tyler Kopas, Andrew Figliuzzi, Cagney McCauley, Rob Ekewerekwu

Baylor Recognized as "Outstanding Delegation" at New York Conference

At the National Model United Nations Conference in New York, April 19-23, 2011, Baylor was recognized as an "Outstanding Delegation" - the highest award the conference gives to participatin schools.

In addition, in two of the committees in which our students served, we received Outstanding Delegation in Committee awards: GA 3 (represented by Jesse Beck and Sam Gomez) and NPT Review (represented by James Blair and Sharita Khaira). These in-committee awards are based upon student nominations.

Thus, our students received recognition from both the staff and their fellow peers at the conference.

2011 MUN Team Award
Bottom (L to R) Jesse Beck, Samuel Best
Middle (L to R) Samuel Gomez, Sharita Khaira, James Blair, Katy Johnson, Bill Dunker, Paul Warren, Jeffrey Vitarius (Baylor MUN Head Delegate)
Back (L to R) Michael Stevick, Brent Salter, Tyler Kopas

Baylor's Model UN Team wins Outstanding Delegation

At the 2010 American Model United Nations conference in Chicago, IL (November 20-23), Baylor MUN represented Estonia. The team received an award for Outstanding Delegation in Committee for GA3, which was represented by Sharita Khaira and Jeffrey Vitarius.

The traveling team for this conference was:

2010 MUN Team Outstanding Delegation
Bottom (L to R) Karin Lieber, Sharita Khaira, Katy Johnson
Middle (L to R) Bill Dunker, James Blair, Daniel Abernathy
Back (L to R) Jeffrey Vitarius (Baylor MUN Head Delegate), Jesse Beck, Zack Wynn, Michael Stevick

Baylor's Model UN Team Strikes Again!

BU Model United Nations brings home bevy of accolades

March 6, 2007
by Kate Boswell

2007 Baylor MUN Team AwardBaylor's Model United Nations team won several awards this weekend in a competition held at the University of California at Berkeley. The team won second place for small delegation, and half of the team members brought home individual awards.

"Considering half of our team were freshman or it was their first time to compete, I think it says something about the team," said Austin junior James Nortey, who won Best Delegate. "I think we have the potential to be a really competitive team."

Competing as Algeria, Birmingham, Ala., senior Jonathan Turner and El Paso junior Jen Kim each won a Verbal Accolade and Georgetown sophomore Travis Hobbs won Honorable Mention.

Nortey said it was his first time to compete in Model United Nations and that he hadn't heard about the competition until recently.

It was very exciting," he said. "I didn't think I'd get that far."

Competing as Sweden, Boxford, Mass., sophomore Abbie Rosen and Cassville, Mo., sophomore Seth Reed won Honorable Mention.

Team members first tried out to join Baylor's Model United Nations team and then competed again to earn a place on the traveling team, which went to the Berkeley competition.

"We have a great team, but the students who went really had to work hard to get there," Kim said. "I think we really have the potential to start getting more consistent awards."

Model United Nations members compete both as teams and as individuals during the competition, Kim said. They are judged on debate skills, writing resolutions, parliamentary procedure, diplomatic relations with other committees and knowledge of international politics.

It's more than just debating. You have to have general knowledge of how the U.N. works," Kim said. "You have to keep up with current events and know how things factor into what your country is going to do."

Turner said he enjoys the competition because of the experience he's gained as a team member.

I enjoy it because it gives you a greater understanding of how the real U.N. works and gives you experience of life and how real diplomacy works," he said.

"That's one of the reasons I do it."

Baylor Model United Nations Team Takes Best Delegation

Nov. 12, 2003
by Haley L. Wright

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Baylor University's Model United Nations team earned the Best Delegation award and more than half of the delegates returned with individual honors after competing at the University of Pennsylvania Model United Nation Conference Nov. 5-9.
 BaylorÆs team competed against 50 universities from across the nation including universities such as Stanford, Georgetown, University of Chicago, Princeton and Yale.
 The Baylor team has a distinguished record of individual and overall team awards, but this is the first Best Delegation award at the University of Pennsylvania Conference in the team's history.
 The Best Delegation award is based on the cumulative number of individual awards received by team members plus the overall performance of the entire team. Of the 12 delegates, seven won individual awards. Those receiving awards were Chris Allen, Rosica Popova and Musheer Kamau for Best Delegate, Steve Lichty and Sushmita Dhar for Honorable Mention, Sam Murchie for Outstanding Delegate and Angela Hackett and Raymond Fogg for Verbal Accolade.
 The remaining team members include Sharad Bhushan, Abby Forster, Kelli Hinz and Tim Kuhl. The team was accompanied by their new faculty sponsor, Dr. Andrew Konitzer-Smirnov, visiting assistant professor of political science.
 "Three factors contributed to the success of our team," said Konitzer-Smirnov. "First we had a strong group of returning veterans along with an extremely talented Head Delegate. Second, we were blessed by an outstanding group of newcomers - some of the best the team has seen in years. Third, we reaped the fruits of the previous leadership - strong organizations don't spring out of the ground overnight."
 In February 2004, the Baylor team will travel to Boston to compete in the Harvard University National Model United Nations competition.


Baylor Model UN Team Earns Top National Award

Feb. 22, 1996

WACO, Texas - Baylor University's Model United Nations delegation earned the Outstanding Delegation Award recently at the national Model U.N. conference held in Boston and hosted by Harvard University.
The team will be honored at a reception from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the White-Beckham Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. is scheduled to attend to congratulate the team.
The Baylor team had the honor of representing the United States at this year's eighth annual competition. Having earned the Outstanding Delegation Award in both 1992 and 1994, the Baylor team had a history of strong performances. As a result, the team was selected to represent the United States, the competition's highest honor, to compete against more than 200 major universities and colleges in mock United Nations discussions.
The Outstanding Delegation Award is based on the cumulative number of individual awards received by team members and the overall performance of the entire team. The Baylor team brought home six individual Outstanding Delegate awards and one Honorable Mention award.
"Even the students that did not win individual awards contributed to the overall performance of the team," said Dr. Linda Adams, assistant professor of political science and sponsor of the Baylor team. "This is a very intense conference that started Thursday morning, ran late into the nights with various committee meetings, and finished Sunday morning."
Out of 20 Baylor delegates, 15 had never been to a university-level model U.N. competition. "However, this was the best prepared team we have ever taken to the conference," Adams said. "We knew we were representing the United States and that we had to know United States policies, because everybody else would know the United States position."


Model U.N. team top for sixth year

Vol. 13, No. 14, The University of Chicago Chronicle
by Carmen Marti

For the sixth consecutive year, the University's Model United Nations (MUN) team was awarded Best Delegation at the Harvard National Model United Nations conference, an achievement unprecedented in Model United Nations competition.

The Harvard National Model United Nations conference is the largest, and, according to MUN president and fourth-year college student Glenn Waldorf, the most prestigious conference on the North American circuit. More than 130 institutions and 2,000 students attended last month's conference.

In Model United Nations competition, students debate current international political issues. Schools represent one or more countries at a conference, with team members assigned to advocate specific positions within the context of committee discussions. Prizes are awarded to individuals for excellence in committee advocacy, and the institution with the best overall record is then named Best Delegation.

This year at the Harvard meet, Chicago represented China and Bosnia. The team representing China won a total of seven awards, while the team representing Bosnia earned four. Chicago students won delegate honors in 11 of the 15 committees in the conference, leading to a shared award of Best Delegation with Baylor University.

"We enjoy playing challenging and diverse countries with unusual world views and grand strategies," Waldorf said. "This interest and effort contributes to the conferences we attend and forces our team to improve its abilities. A few years ago, we were the first school to represent post-reunification Germany and the first to represent recent United Nations member Kazakhstan. Our team portrayed the United States just one day after the Gulf War ended.

"Another thing we like to do is compete against ourselves," Waldorf continued. "We've simultaneously portrayed Israel and Syria and North and South Korea, which we think strengthens the conferences and sharpens our skills. We're the only team whose delegations debate each other, and since we've done so well over the years, we're now in a position to choose to be whoever we want."

Waldorf attributes the success of the Chicago team to strong students and solid training. Every autumn, fliers about the organization are given to new students, and applications are distributed at the first meeting of the year. All members -- even veterans of the team -- are asked to participate in debate practice sessions so that team officers can select the best delegates to represent a particular country or attend a specific conference. "We look for enthusiasm, public-speaking skills, experience, background and knowledge of current events," Waldorf said. "About half of the people participated in Model U.N. in high school, but that's not a prerequisite."

The MUN team meets once a week during autumn and winter quarters, the time of year when the major Model United Nations conferences are held. In addition to conducting simulations to train students in parliamentary procedure and public speaking, the leaders of the group review standard committee rules and strategies and then practice using them in the meetings.

"We spend a lot of time refining our technique and reviewing the issues," Waldorf said. "We discuss general national policies. We teach our delegates how to research their country's position on the issue of debate in their committee and how to discover more about that issue itself. Delegates are coached on strategy and speaking style. They are taught how to craft one-page position papers, which are then critiqued extensively by the team officers and revised before they are submitted to the school running a conference."

The University team attends four competitions each year - the Georgetown, Penn and Harvard conferences, as well as the American Model United Nations competition in Chicago. Waldorf said that the team is often invited to attend other meets, including international conferences, but the logistics tend to be too complicated. "We select tournaments based on four factors -- the quality of the conference, ease of travel, the number of class days missed and the relative costs of attending," Waldorf said. "We took 55 different students to competitions this year. We do as much as our budget will allow."

Chicago's Model U.N. team, founded in the 1987-88 academic year, follows guidelines set by the United Nations Association of the United States, but the chapter is run entirely by students on campus. A member of the Coalition of Academic Teams, an umbrella organization that includes the Chess, College Bowl, Debate and Speech teams, MUN is one of the University's largest Registered Student Organizations, with more than 60 members. Most of the participants concentrate on the social sciences, particularly political science, but Waldorf said that students studying physics, philosophy, Near Eastern languages and biochemistry are also on the team.

"The skills we cultivate are applicable in every area of study," Waldorf said. "You learn to ask good questions, you learn that understanding precedes criticism. These are tenets that this university lives by, which is one reason we have such a good Model U.N. team. I hate to give all the credit to Western Civ. and the Common Core, but the fundamental approaches we learn as part of the U of C curriculum help us in every arena, and they will for the rest of our lives."

"Listening and debating, researching, finding resolutions -- these are really important interpersonal skills," Waldorf continued. "They help you asses a situation quickly and accurately, and eventually these skills become instinct. We can size up a room and persuade people. Besides all that, it's fun."