Eight students from the University of Pisa went to Brussels to take part in the first Model United Nations (MUN) promoted by Circle U., the University Alliance that brings together the universities of Aarhus, Belgrade, Berlin, Louvain, Oslo, Paris Cité, Pisa, Vienna and King’s College London. The Pisa group, formed by Monia Mannucci, Francesca Rosa, Aurora Matteo, Giulia Nardini, Lidia Trombello, Fabiana Marà, Agata Merian Bernacca and Leonardo Baldacci, took part in a UN simulation on ‘Sustainable Education – thinking and making the future of higher education’. Together with some 80 participants from all over Europe, they took on the roles of UN delegates, representing their assigned Member States, discussing, debating, and trying to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Francesca Rosa, Agata Merian Bernacca, Lidia Trombello, Aurora Matteo, Monia Mannucci, Fabiana Marà, Leonardo Baldacci, Giulia Nardini.
“Participating in a Model United Nations was an extremely valuable and formative experience, which was made even more special by the unique setting offered by Brussels, the seat of important EU institutions, and therefore an ideal place to discuss international politics,” they said when they came back. “The opportunity to act as diplomats was the perfect way to improve our interpersonal and negotiating skills, and to acquire greater awareness of the complexities of decision-making processes at the international level.”
Lidia Trombello, Francesca Rosa, Leonardo Baldacci, Giulia Nardini, Aurora Matteo, Agata Merian Bernacca, Monia Mannucci, Fabiana Marà.
During the four days of work, the delegates had the opportunity to discuss effective and functional solutions related to the global dissemination of sustainable education. Each of them was part of a committee (UNESCO, UNEP, WHO, Security Council, European Council), within which they acted as spokespersons for the interests of the country represented, dealing with sub-topics specific to each sector. “Working together with students from all over Europe also provided us with the opportunity to enrich our cultural background, improve our language skills and network for future experiences,” they concluded. “We would like to thank the Circle U. MUN organising committee for making this event possible, as well as all the delegates from the universities of the Circle U. alliance.”
Let us learn more about this experience from the participants’ words:
My name is Monia Mannucci, I live in Carrara, and I am attending the Master’s degree course in Structural Engineering at the University of Pisa. I participated in Circle U. MUN by representing the delegation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) committee. I was a signatory to the resolution promoted and voted on by the committee, which – among many points – touches on issues that are very dear to me, such as education for sustainability and equal access to education even in the most disadvantaged rural areas of the world. Drawing on my academic background, I was able to contribute to the discussion thanks to my knowledge of civil-environmental and structural engineering, promoting the adoption of scientific solutions and investment in research to effectively address the climate challenge. At the end of the proceedings, I was nominated ‘Most Improved Delegate’ by the Chairs, in recognition of my commitment and improvement during discussions and negotiations, and of my great ability to adapt to and collaborate with the other delegates.
My name is Francesca Rosa, and I am 21 years old. I come from Livorno, but I am currently living in France on an Erasmus exchange with the University of Lille 1. I am a third-year Management for Business and Economics (MBE) student under the Department of Economics and Management at the University of Pisa. My role during the Model United Nations was to represent the Republic of Paraguay at the discussion table of an assembly involving member countries of the United Nations Security Council. The general topic discussed turned to possible reforms to the Security Council to make it function more effectively and to guarantee sustainable education in all countries. Following numerous debates that took place during the three days in Brussels, the countries present at the assembly reached an agreement and passed a resolution. Such resolution proposes the creation of an ad-hoc commission to assess the conditions for admitting new member states to the UN Security Council, both permanent and temporary, with the aim of ensuring that countries are more equitably represented. Furthermore, it promotes the Security Council’s engagement in conflicts caused by climate change, which is a threat to general security. Finally, I am pleased to say that, like my colleague Monia, I also won the ‘Most Improved Delegate’ award within my committee, because of my active participation and commitment in fulfilling my role.
My name is Aurora Matteo, I am 24 years old and I come from Foggia. I am attending the Master’s degree course in Environmental Sciences (Climatology curriculum) at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Pisa. As part of the MUN, I took on the role of a delegate from Chile in the UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) Commission. Drawing on my studies, I brought climate and environmental causes to the table and applied them to sustainable education – the main theme of this MUN – besides proposing possible solutions from the perspective of the country I represented. After three days of intense discussions, I and other UNEP delegates drafted a resolution focused on local country commitments, such as implementing the knowledge of native populations to learn how to manage forests more sustainably—an issue strongly supported by delegates from South American countries, including Chile, that I represented.
The experience in Brussels was highly formative. I learned how to negotiate, advocate, and advance the causes of Chile with nothing but the power of my voice, and how to find the best way to expose my ideas, emphasise the importance of the cause and, above all, attract the listeners’ attention. Back in Pisa, I noticed a big change in my way of communicating, both with friends and academics. Finally, this experience allowed me to broaden my outlook, and taught me how to work in the complex activity of negotiation and collaboration that took place between the delegates representing different countries with different principles and ideas.
My name is Giulia Nardini, I am 24 and my hometown is Sarzana (La Spezia). I am attending the Master’s degree course in International Studies (Migration Governance curriculum) at the Department of Political Science. During the MUN organised by Circle U. I had the opportunity to represent the delegation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the UNESCO committee, which dealt with the topic of equal access to sustainable education for all children. Working together with the other delegates of the committee, we drafted a resolution containing effective, realistic, and peremptory solutions to ensure that students around the world can receive quality education.
My name is Lidia Trombello, I am 25, Sicilian by origin and Pisan by adoption. I am attending the fifth year of the degree course in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. I enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to participate in the MUN activity, promoted by the Circle U. university alliance, as I believe that initiatives of this kind can be a precious resource for students like us to get involved in an enriching and stimulating international environment such as the one in Brussels. As a delegate from China in the WHO (World Health Organisation) commission, I acquired soft skills, such as the ability to negotiate and defend an evidence-based idea, that fit perfectly into my academic career and future clinical practice.
My name is Fabiana Marà, and I am 24. I come from Abruzzo but have been living in Pisa for almost six years. I graduated in Physics here and I am currently following a Master’s degree course in Medical Physics. In the MUN initiative, I was chosen to represent a delegate from Egypt in the WHO (World Health Organisation) Commission, which was the closest to my field of study. We discussed the topic of how to create a connection between global health issues and sustainable education. It was very stimulating to express my point of view, as I am deeply interested in both issues involved in the discussion.
AGATA MERIAN BERNACCA
My name is Agata Merian Bernacca, from Lucca. I am 19 and I am attending the first year of a degree course in Pharmacy. I took part in the event as a delegate from Vietnam for the UNESCO committee. I discussed topics concerning sustainable education, presenting and defending theses in agreement with the position of the country I represented. The committee I was on was not strictly related to my field of study, but was closely connected with the intense voluntary work I do while attending the university. The debate I was engaged in with the other representatives was interesting and stimulating, and helped broaden my horizons on the topic of inclusive education. It also gave me numerous insights into how to improve my study method and expository skills. Participating in the MUN as a fresher was an opportunity to immerse myself even more in the university environment and to develop the sense of collaboration that is fundamental for those embarking on a career in science.
Agata Merian Bernacca.
My name is Leonardo Baldacci, from Lucca. I am 25 and I am studying Energy Engineering at the University of Pisa. My studies have always gone hand in hand with a great interest in environmental education and the culture of sustainability. So, as soon as I read about the possibility of participating in this MUN on education and sustainability, I thought I couldn’t miss this opportunity and sent in my application. It was all very interesting, and the international atmosphere that we experienced during this event fuelled our great desire to participate in similar events more frequently, promoting the importance of the Circle U. alliance to which our university belongs. I participated as Austrian delegate to the European Council, and learning more about the positions of other nations regarding education and sustainability has certainly enriched my and our cultural background, besides undoubtedly providing me with new insights to try and bring about improvements in our educational system, too. I would like to thank my companions from the University of Pisa and all the people I met during this wonderful experience, which I will certainly not forget.