In 2021, IE University launched the IE University Model United Nations. The IE Debate Club led the first edition online, and the past two have been held in person at IE University in Madrid. Bringing together more than 100 nationalities, IEUMUN builds hope through global cooperation and innovation.
In our continued mission to bring learning to life, IE University recently hosted the 2023 edition of the IE University Model United Nations (IEUMUN) conference. Simulating several UN agencies, students have the chance to step out of the classroom and into the shoes of committees working toward change. More than just a learning experience, IEUMUN works as a non-profit conference, donating proceeds of each conference to charity.
Each year, the IE Debate Club works alongside IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs to bring together students and faculty alike for the IEUMUN conference. Taking on roles as delegates representing a country, students work together to find innovative approaches to real-world solutions. Borja Santos, associate vice dean of IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs, describes the four-day conference as an “educational simulation where students learn about diplomacy, international relations, economics and the United Nations.”
Diving into the art of competition, Bachelor in International Relations student Margarita Peces served as the secretary general in the 2023 edition of the conference. “The topic this year was Building Hope through Global Cooperation and Innovation. We looked for real solutions that may bring hope to our polarized world.” Margarita explained that the Model UN is about building hope, cooperation and innovation, highlighting that the judging panel looks for creativity from the delegates. “Additionally, as it’s part of IE University, we are always looking for students to offer an innovative approach.”
More than finding innovative solutions, IEUMUN pushes students to think in new ways. Sophie Muller, representative for Spain at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), shared that “working in the humanitarian environment requires drive, focus, patience and humanity,” soft skills that students are able to hone in on during the conference. For Sophie, a main takeaway is that students will learn to listen to each other, to collaborate, and to focus on diplomacy in an incredibly diverse environment. Borja echos her ideas by explaining that the IEUMUN “teaches the delegates skills in public speaking, negotiation and leadership.”
This year, Bachelor in International Relations student Samuel Craig served as the IEUMUN general director. “The 2023 edition welcomed more than 450 students and faculty from all over the world,” explained Samuel. “We were able to visit Casa Árabe with the Arab League Committee; CESEDEN, which is a center of studies for the National Defense Ministry; and the UNICEF headquarters.”
As part of the conference, students have the opportunity to build their professional networks. “Each committee of the IEUMUN is supported by a UN agency. Students and participants not only debate, but they also have the chance to network with senior professionals working in multilateral institutions,” explains Borja. This detail is one of the most rewarding for Elisa Hicks, executive director of IE Campus Life. “Seeing how the students take the time to grow and develop the professional skills they will use in their future careers is not only rewarding, but it also proves the impact of the IEUMUN as a conference.”
Year after year students walk away from the conference full of new skills and knowledge. The real-world scenarios serve as a glimpse into what working for an institution like the UN would be like. In reflecting on what students gain from the conference, Borja rhetorically asks: “How do you acquire the intuition of an experienced diplomat? Or the negotiation tactics of a skilled business person?” And his answer to his own question? “Participate in the IEUMUN.” For Borja, it’s as simple as that—and as participants, Margarita and Samuel most definitely agree.