Model United Nations Students Cultivate Global Civic Engagement

In Model United Nations (MUN), students take a deep dive into diverse histories, cultures and modern conflicts across the globe. They research and debate global issues facing the international community. At regional and international conferences, students explore creative solutions to global challenges in fields like international security, economic progress and human rights.

At the heart of Model UN is the challenge of placing oneself on the side of a differing worldview and addressing international issues from that position. From preparation to presentation, students continually encounter new perspectives, histories and theories—and must learn to represent countries with values and interests often vastly different from their own.

MUN Club Co-President Ellie Barker ’20 explains. “I once represented Turkey on the topic of the rights and safety of journalists. This challenged me not only to put aside my own beliefs on freedom of speech as an American citizen, but also to look at this issue from a completely different set of traditions and circumstances.”


Cal Lutheran’s MUN originated with
Political Science Professor Gregory Freeland in 1995. “I wanted to expose students to networking with their peers from around the world as one way to assist in their preparation for a global society,” says Freeland. “Working with student delegates from around the world, our students craft resolutions aimed at rising problems, like the feminization of poverty and the need for sustainable energy.”

At first, Cal Lutheran MUN participated in regional MUNs, moved on to UC Berkeley’s MUN Conference in 2001, and has been part of Harvard’s MUN Conference since 2009. Freeland served as faculty advisor for the MUN Club. He taught a Model UN class from 2005 until Fall 2013. Richard Neve, adjunct professor of political science, began advising the MUN Club this past fall semester, when he also rebooted the class.

“Model UN is a fantastic way to bring the abstract, complex world of international law and institutions to life,” Neve says. “It challenges students to collectively address critical issues using real world processes.”

The MUN Club, composed of 12 members, meets every Wednesday. Students who wish to participate in conferences must be registered for the MUN class and complete assignments during the year, which help them with conference preparation, as well as introduce them to concepts, theories and structures of international diplomacy, law and institutions.


At the prestigious Harvard conference, participants number more than 3,000 from more than 250 colleges and universities, including 40 international universities. At recent Harvard conferences, Cal Lutheran’s team of 10 has brought home coveted “Outstanding Delegate” awards.

In the 2018 conference, Barker participated in a specialized historical crisis committee, “Advisors to Emir Habibullah Khan,1914.” Her role was an “Ulama of West Afghanistan.” She and her peers advised their “King” on strategies to create a more independent and prosperous Afghanistan after the eruption of the First World War. She was awarded the “Diplomatic Commendation” for her commitment to peaceful and diplomatic strategies in achieving her desired objectives.