By: Mr. Jeremy McWhorter (MS Faculty)
On Thursday May, 18th the 8th grade conducted a Mock-UN Environmental Conference, focused on drafting resolutions to deal with the ever-growing dangers of overpopulation, global warming, lack of clean water, and disease. The conference was the culmination of two weeks of research and an essay that each student prepared on behalf of one of the 16 countries (we somewhat arbitrarily chose the 15 UN Security Council countries plus Laos).
Among the goals of the project was for the students to understand the conflicting national interests of individual countries versus the collective well-being of the international community. Students simultaneously increased their awareness of the impact that global warming, lack of clean water, disease, and overpopulation are having on the world.
Among the biggest conundrums that surfaced as the various “ambassadors” represented their country’s national interests in the conference was the issue of what obligation the developed countries of the world have to aid the underdeveloped or developing countries of the world as they attempt to combat disease, pollution, and/or the lack of clean water. According to Juliet Fontana, who was an ambassador from Lebanon in the conference on global warming, “my classmates representing the wealthiest countries of the world were being hypocritical in criticizing the developing countries of the world” for the disproportionately large amount of emissions they produce. “Countries like Great Britain, France, or even the United States seem to be unwilling to contribute any funding to help us become green while we continue to industrialize,” continued Fontana. “The industrialized nations have an obligation to the underdeveloped nations of the world, many of whom were former colonies,” explained Fontana.
“This conference really opened my eyes to the problems that we are going to face in our future,” exclaimed Lily Canaan. “I was already very aware of the threat that global warming and disease pose to the international community, but I had no idea that so many people don’t have access to clean drinking water,” Canaan said.
One of the biggest lessons that the students learned was just how difficult it is to reach a consensus. Consequently the difficulty that the member states of the United Nations encounter as they try to resolve international crises was made very clear to many 8th graders. “Our conference had several very heated, but fascinating debates,” said Harry Berman. “I can only imagine how frustrated UN Ambassadors must get with each other at times!”
The middle school continues to be dedicated to global learning. In addition to the 8th grade UN Environmental Conference, the 6th grade recently (May 10th) had a Silk Road Project Presentation, the Foreign Language Department offers Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Latin, the Science Department focuses considerable attention on global environmental issues, and the English Department studies many books from authors outside the United States.