851-0647-00L  Model United Nations - International Policy-making

SemesterSpring Semester 2021
LecturersL. Hensgen, F. M. Egli
Periodicitynon-recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


AbstractThis course takes the UN as a starting point to acquaint students with key competences decisive for effective international policy-making to address the most pressing issues of humanity. These include intercultural negotiation, mediation and complex problem solving skills. Participants receive the opportunity to exchange with UN staff, diplomats and civil society members engaged with the UN.
ObjectiveIntercultural mediation, negotiation, complex problem solving, sustainable development goals and how those are addressed by the UN, team work
ContentTechnical progress led to unprecedented opportunities and challenges for human societies. While we were never as affluent, educated and healthy as today - climate change, biodiversity loss, epidemics and widening inequality, as well as new risks from emerging technologies - such as lethal autonomous weapons and designed pathogens – pose novel challenges. Responding to these challenges requires not only profound technical knowledge but also a profound understanding of societies and the capacity to put technological solutions into practice in a globalized, intercultural and political environment. Thus, increasingly there is a need for engineers with a strong understanding of complex problem solving to address the most pressing challenges of human kind. This course takes the UN as a starting point to address complexity at international policy-making processes and to make students aware of the need for more sustainable solutions in the future. The work on real UN case studies will challenge students to critically assess global problems from different perspectives, to discuss UN resolutions brought forward and to reflect upon their potential implications. Opportunities to exchange with experts, such as UN staff, diplomats and civil society advisors will complement theoretic inputs. In this course, ETH students can complement their technical skills with key competences decisive for effective international policy-making.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course consists of five sessions (March 9th/ March 23rd/ April 6th/ April 27th/ May 4th 5.15 PM- 7.00 PM) that include teaching and discussions about the UN system with external experts as well as the preparation and participation in a MUN in Zurich (May 1st- May 3th 2020). Upon request and at students’ own expense they can also attend a MUN in another location.
The course is co-organized with the ETH MUN. Similar courses are offered at UZH, HSG, University of Bern, University of Geneva.