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Fantasy Committees in Model UN- Be Warned!

Written by Frank Pobutkiewicz

I'm the founder/Managing Director of the All-American Model UN Programs! If you have any questions, please email [email protected]. Happy MUNing!

July 24, 2014

Fantasy Committees in Model UN- Be Warned!

The last time we met, I discussed How Model UN Dead. I stand by my argument and now I’d like to expand on one of the points in that post, namely how conferences try their hardest to stay away from UN simulations.

In particular, by running fantasy committees.

Throughout my Model UN career, I’ve personally seen committees based on The West Wing, 24, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Flies, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Godfather.  If you’ve never experience these committees, you’re probably excited about the prospect of encountering one sometime soon. Don’t. With very few exceptions, fantasy committees provide delegates with horrendous experiences with little, if any, educational experience.

I know I’ve already offended some people, and I apologize that the real world of international diplomacy isn’t interesting enough for you.

Reason Why Fantasy Committees Should be Banned #1: The Experts

This is the main reason fantasy committee usually end up being the most unproductive of a conference. Rather than debate substantive matters, fantasy committees devolve into self appointed “experts” arguing about elements of the fantasy realm.  Do healing potions exist? Can we bring that guy back to life? Does time travel exist?

Student time should not be wasted debating an issue of fact. It wastes the committee time, kills productivity, and ruins any educational experience that may attempt to exist.

Reason Why Fantasy Committees Should be Banned #2: This is Not Your Playground

Fantasy committees manage to find their way into conferences because there is usually a Crisis Director or Chair who is an “ultimate fan” and knows “how to run this committee right [sic].”

Any Secretariat that falls prey to this line of thinking has done a disservice to their institution, and more importantly, their delegates.

Model United Nations conferences should not allow directors to run fantasy simulations because they are experts. These conferences, which many students pay hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars to attend, are not your playground to fulfill having control over your ultimate fantasy universe.

I get it, you probably are an expert on whatever committee you want to run. If it’s not based in this real world, please go find a convention to discuss it with over hard core fans and leave our conferences alone.

Reason Why Fantasy Committees Should be Banned #3: They Make Model UN Cheap

We’ve all read this New York Times article on the Dog-Eat-Dog world of Model UN. The first time I read it, it infuriated me.

Model UN has produced, encouraged, and introduced me to some of the most talented, passionate, skilled, ambitious, educated, and caring people that I will ever meet in my life.  What the Model UN community has been able to accomplish over the past ten years truly astounds me. So much so that I started the All-American Model UN programto expand the horizons of US students and encourage a productive approach to Model UN.

To think that even one person who read that article then dismissed Model UN as a role playing, fantasy-based, weekend activity makes be nauseous.

We are better than that. We have to act better than that.

I understand their are counterarguments to my position. I know that fantasy committees can engage otherwise disinterested students and I know fantasy committees can encourage creative thinking. The point I’ll stand by is by and large they don’t. And if they do accomplish these tasks, they do more harm to the overall experience.

You may disagree with my assertions but I will always argue the real world offers more unpredictable scenarios than any fantasy world. After all, as the adage goes, you can’t make this up.

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