Model United Nations (MUN) is an academic simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about current events, topics in international relations, diplomacy and the United Nations agenda.
The participants role-play as diplomats representing a nation or NGO in a simulated session of a committee of the United Nations, such as the Security Council or the General Assembly. Participants research a country, take on roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult, and then develop solutions to world problems. More recently, simulation of other deliberative bodies, such as the United Nations Security Council, has been included in Model United Nations. In some Model United Nations, the participants that are considered to be most contributing are given awards, but THIMUN does not believe in that practice, feeling that competition detracts from the simulation experience and is detrimental to the idea of cooperative problem solving that it wants to promote.
During a conference, participants must employ a variety of communication and critical thinking skills in order to represent the policies of their country. These skills include public speaking, group communication, research, policy analysis, active listening, negotiating, reaching consensus, conflict resolution, note taking, and technical writing. Model United Nations groups exist to develop these skills and are usually organized as either a club, conference, or class. A conference is a school-wide, local, regional or international gathering of Model United Nations students who come together over a period between one and five days.
In recent decades Model United Nations has greatly matured and expanded. It is now practiced all over the world by elementary, secondary, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. Some simulations are small, including members of only a single class. For example, 20 students can do a one-hour simulation of the (15-member) United Nations Security Council in their classroom. Other simulations can be very large, involving many committees and taking place over the span of several days. The majority of conferences generally involve anywhere from 50 to several hundred delegates, with most students living around that one region. The largest conferences, such as THIMUN, can have thousands of participants from many different countries.