If you clicked ...
... the „philosophy“ link in the hope of finding enlightening quotations by towering intellectuals such as Immanuel Kant or Franz Beckenbauer, we are sincerely sorry to disappoint you. This link is concerned with conveying the values and beliefs we share within our Model United Nations Group. For several years now this set of beliefs has formed the underlying basis of an inspiring and successful cooperation. What brought us together was a shared interest in politics and a sense of responsibility for the steps this world is taking towards the future. Responsibility implies involvement. However, it does not necessarily entail activism. There are many ways of becoming involved. And if knowledge is power, then - for us as university students - familiarizing ourselves with current political, cultural and environmental issues seemed to us an adequate expression of our commitment.
The Harvard WorldMUN provides us with an excellent opportunity to test the practicability of our ideas, as well as learn how the decision-making process on a global level actually works. Furthermore, the concept of representing another country not only creates an awareness for the interests of other governments, it also encourages you to develop an understanding for the needs and views of other cultures. In a world which is growing together so rapidly the success of cross-cultural encounters is becoming increasingly vital. Therefore exercises in open-mindedness, such as the WorldMUN, should not be viewed as international frolicing. They are attempts at sensitizing us to different stand-points, stand-points which are often rooted in back-grounds alien to us. This does not mean, that we advocate a blurred and unconstructive ‘anything goes’ attitude, where everyone accepts the others opinion at face-value. It does, however, mean that we try to understand the issues and people we are dealing with, which in turn means approaching them with respect - critically, yes, but not with an air of superiority (which is in itself toxic to any form of understanding). The Harvard WorldMUN fosters such attitude.
The Harvard WorldMUN Group in Heidelberg has also created a forum for students from different academic disciplines to get together and exchange their views on the issues currently troubling the globe to varying degrees. In a democracy, where so much depends on the convincing articulation of your opinions, we feel it is a valuable part of academic (and indeed democratic) education to share, defend and (if necessary) re-assess your views. Besides, the WorldMUN group also offers a rare, yet much needed chance to practise debating in English. Especially on the annual conferences the need for this becomes apparent. International encounters can only ever be successful, if both sides are able to communicate successfully. And as it is becoming increasingly important to tackle the problems we are facing globally, the need to acquire and practise foreign languages cannot be side-stepped.
However, the ModelUN-group is also beneficial on a more concrete and personal level. The skills required to successfully take part at a ‘ModelUN’-conference are skills, which prepare us for our future career, yet are seldom part of the curriculum. Team work, focused research and negotiating skills, the ability to speak confidently and to the point - all these are basic requirements in any leading profession. By founding the Heidelburg WorldMUN Group we have found an enjoyable and creative way of acquiring such faculties. And independently of the different careers we are envisaging, what unites us is a desire to be effective in what we do. ‘Effective’ in order to make a difference.
To come back to a more philosophical aspect of our group: we believe that categories such as nationality, race or religion are historical realities, which therefore cannot be ignored. However, we are not prepared to let them dominate our thinking or actions. As students at a German University we are only too well aware of what can happen, if prejudice starts narrowing and poisoning people’s mind. We feel it is up to us to remain vigilant and critical and to not leave matters which effect us all to a couple of ‘big guys’. Even if we are not in a position to change what is happening, that does not stop us from becoming involved. Making sure that the knowledge of what is ‘going on’ and ‘why’ does not remain in the hands of a few is the first step towards change.
We do not believe in easy slogans, nor in easy solutions to complex problems. What we do believe in is embracing the complexity of our world. Our aim is not to get lost in the maze of things that ‘are’, but to forge a link between reality and possibility.