An Overview of the Model UN Committees

There are six main committees:

  • The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Committee) is concerned with disarmament and related international security questions.
  • The Second Committee (Economic and Financial Committee) is concerned with economic questions.
  • The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee) deals with social and humanitarian issues.
  • The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization Committee) deals with a variety of political subjects not dealt with by the First Committee, as well as with decolonization.
  • The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary Committee) deals with the administration and budget of the United Nations.
  • The Sixth Committee (Legal Committee) deals with international legal matters.

The Plenary is where you have to know a little bit about everything.

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serves as the main forum for discussion of international economic, social, cultural and health issues, as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) discusses the allocation and usage of resources and potential for the betterment of humanity and progress towards world peace. It is also discusses how countries whose resources are scarce or untapped can reach their full potential and not be economically deprived. This committee is a good platform to discuss ideas on how to make the world a better place for humanity.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) convenes, facilitates and provides scientific assessments, analyses, and projects in order to stimulate international policy responses. This committee discuses climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity, environmental governance, harmful substances, and resource efficiency. UNEP has assisted in creating guidelines and treaties on issues such as trade in harmful chemicals, trans-boundary air pollution, and contamination of international waterways.

The World Health Organization (WHO) serves as the “authority for health within the United Nations system”, and furthermore provide “leadership on global health matters, shape the health research agenda, set norms and standards, articulate evidence-based policy options, provide technical support to countries and monitor and assess health trends.” Current objectives of the WHO are laid out in a “Six-Point Agenda” aimed at responding to the challenges of an “increasingly complex and rapidly changing landscape” of global public health. The points on the agenda are: (1) promoting development; (2) fostering health security; (3) strengthening health systems; (4) harnessing research, information and evidence; (5) enhancing partnerships; and (6) improving performance.

The Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system that is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the global and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) discusses child labor, reducing child mortality, and children in armed conflict. UNICEF aims to crumble obstacles to the success of youth, be they poverty, violence, disease, or discrimination, with the ultimate purpose of advancing humanity by starting at its roots.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization contributes to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science and culture to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law and human rights along with the fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime enhances the mechanisms to stem the increasing spread of illicit drugs. This includes alternative development, corruption, crop monitoring, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, justice and prison reform, money laundering, organized crime, and terrorism prevention.

The Triple Joint Crisis consists of two independently running subcommittees whose decisions and actions immediately affect the perpetual crisis at hand, thus providing for an experience like no other. What delegates will be asked to deal with is only partially revealed for your preparation; covert plots, terrible luck, and the well-meaning (or hostile) actions of the opposing committee together offer an unpredictable, volatile, and urgent, but undoubtedly exciting, experience. If the bloc as a whole is to succeed, the delegates must compromise, negotiate, and persevere in a battle of diplomatic wit; after all, there is a nemesis waiting, biding its time. Delegates interested in TJC will need to be prepared to partake in intensive and fast-paced debate on a diverse series of urgent topics within their subcommittee, while still possessing a fine-tuned handle on diplomatic conduct. Detailed research and preparation prior to the conference will be key to success in TJC, but wits and thinking on one’s feet will also be critically important.

The International Court of Justice (The Court) has Justices and Advocates. The role of a Justice is much different from the traditional role as an MUN delegate, and significantly distinct from that of an Advocate. Justices are responsible for reading the briefs and hearing arguments on each of the cases. Then the cases and arguments are discussed in order to determine the appropriate applications of international law in each case. Justices are also responsible for writing opinions for each case. An Advocate’s role is given an assignment with the privilege of representing your country by arguing a case before the ICJ. Preparing for this role can be time consuming, as it not only involves dedicated research and writing, but it also requires an oral presentation before the Court. Appropriate preparation is essential to a rewarding and successful simulation of the ICJ. It is important that all Advocates properly prepare and submit Memorials on time. In addition, the lead-up time is used to Conference wisely by drafting and practicing Oral Arguments. The Justices will be reading the Memorials for the country’s position; however, the presentation during the Oral Argument is also a key part of the Justice’s decisions.

The Committee of the Privy Council has delegates that act as a privy council of the country. A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation.

The Three Basic Categories of Physics

The physics that provides the foundation for all of modern science and engineering
can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Particles and energy
  • Fields and waves
  • The atomic structure of matter

A particle is an idealization of a physical object. We will use particles to understand how objects move and how they interact with each other. One of the most important properties of a particle or a collection of particles is energy.

Although many phenomena can be understood in terms of particles and their interactions, the long-range interactions of gravity, electricity and magnetism are best understood in terms of fields, such as the gravitational field and the electric field. Rather than being discrete, fields spread continuously through space. Much of the second half of this book will be focused on understanding fields and the interactions between fields and particles.

One of the most significant discoveries of the past 500 years is that matter consists of atoms. Atoms and their properties are described by quantum physics.

A Message About Learning Intro to Physics

How do you feel about physics? Fear? Uncertainty? Let’s face it, physics has a bit of an ‘image problem’. You’ve probably think that it’s difficult, maybe downright impossible unless you’re an Einstein. Things that you’ve heard, your experiences in other STEM courses, and many other factors all color your expectations about what studying physics is going to be like.

Just what is physics, anyway?

Physics is a way of thinking about the physical aspects of nature. It isn’t any better than art or biology or poetry or religion, which are also ways to think about nature.

It’s not just about “the facts.” Oh, not that facts are unimportant, but physics is far more focused on discovering relationships that exist between facts and patterns that exist in nature than on learning facts for their own sake. As a consequence, there’s not a lot of memorization when you study physics. Some—there are still definitions and equations to learn—but less than in many other courses. There is much more emphasis on thinking and reasoning.

Perhaps most important of all, physics is more than just math. It involves looking for patterns and relationships in nature, and searching for the reasons why things happen as they do. In doing so, we stress qualitative reasoning, pictorial and graphical reasoning, and reasoning by analogy.

As you study, you’ll sometimes feel baffled, puzzled, and confused. That’s perfectly normal and to be expected. Making mistakes is OK too if you’re willing to learn from the experience. No one is born knowing how to do physics any more than he or she is born knowing how to play the piano or shoot basketballs. The ability to do physics comes from practice, repetition, and struggling with the ideas until you “own” them and can apply them yourself in new situations. There’s no way to make learning effortless, at least for anything worth learning, so expect to have some difficult moments ahead. But also expect the feeling of self-discovery and sense of adventure to eventually outweigh the frustrations.

How Facial Recognition Can Provide Secure Access for K-12 Schools

In recent years, concerns for unauthorized persons gaining access to schools has, unfortunately, drastically risen. Some security systems have been put in place, but they are generally a simple button to unlock the front door or gates, which schools have found to be problematic due to things such as tardy students that need be buzzed in and how often parents have to be buzzed in when picking up their children early.

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Re: On the firing of a “tenured UC professor”

The University of California Board of Regents dismissed a professor from the Riverside campus named Rob Latham after his student issued a formal complaint alleging him of sexually harassing that student with the comment “ride you hard,” and distributing drugs to other students.

If a heterosexual man had made the exact same statement, no lewd implication would ever have been inferred.

-Rob Latham

The University of California Board of Regents dismissed a gay professor from the Riverside campus named Rob Latham.

One of his students issued a formal complaint alleging him of sexually harassing that student with the comment “ride you hard,” as well as distributing drugs to other students.

The Hearing Committee dismissed the original charges of “flagrant, serial sexual harassment,” and instead charged him for his recurring “psychological illness.”

Continue reading “Re: On the firing of a “tenured UC professor””

Quick Thoughts: Media Literacy Should Be Taught To Children (and Parents)

Kids (and, surprisingly, babies) nowadays have their hands on smartphones, tablets, computers, and/or gaming systems with social media sharing. They’re exposed to much more information than I ever was when I was a kid! (I’m a post-millennial, by the way.)

Continue reading “Quick Thoughts: Media Literacy Should Be Taught To Children (and Parents)”

Should Hollywood Movies and TV Shows Be More Scientifically Accurate?

Two years ago, my Physics I professor mentioned the movie “Gravity” when talking about torque, velocity, and other basic physics concepts… because the movie’s writers got them all wrong. He warned his students that the way Hollywood depicts physics will make it more difficult for us to understand real-world physics.

In a way, he’s right. We watch movies and TV shows “believing” (or getting used to the idea) that huge explosions can result from minor collisions, people can jump across huge gaps, people can stand up after getting hit by a heavy object… Yeah, in the back of our minds we know that cinematic effects are added to scenes to make on-screen stories seem more interesting than everyday life. But some subtle unrealistic depictions in movies and TV shows can seem realistic… so realistic that we choose to believe them without question.

“The most frequent sci-fi physics sin is, without a doubt, the incredible sounds emitted by all those zooming spacecraft, all those exploding planets, all those laser beams whizzing by. As every student learns very early on, sound waves need a medium through which to pass in the form of vibrations to be heard. Air, water, the membrane of your eardrum–all are sufficient media to transmit these vibrations. And as we all know, the cold vacuum of space is unfortunately devoid of anything substantial enough to serve as a transmissive medium. It’s true, however, that those unfortunate enough to have their spacecraft destroyed be in a spaceship while it was exploding would certainly hear quite a racket for a few split seconds from inside, as the sound vibrations passed through the ship itself and into what was left of the cockpit’s pressurized atmosphere as it broke up. But once the damage was done, we’d be back to space’s normal, somber silence. But hey, I guess all those sound designers and THX-equipped theaters need to be used for something, right?” (Source: PopSci)

On the other hand, sci-fi films and shows like “Star Trek” have inspired future STEMists. A lot of techies and “Star Trek” fans love to talk about how the show introduced the idea of the cellphone, but there are, of course, other inventive concepts that the show introduced such as the tablet.

Remember when the iPhone was revealed back in 2007? There were rumors about how Apple will compete with cellphone companies, but no one expected Apple to introduce a “button-less cellphone”.

The iPhone gained popularity SLOWLY. Today, a lot of people (especially young adults, teenagers, and pre-teens) are obsessed with using touchscreen smartphones for gaming, messaging, camera, news, shopping, and social media apps. But back then, can you believe that few people realized how valuable the iPhone’s multi-functional capabilities are, let alone how a “button-less phone” is possible?

So, should movies and TV shows be more scientifically accurate?

In some ways, yes. Movies that try to tell more believable stories like “Gravity” should get their scripts reviewed by scientists. Fun fact: Neil deGrasse Tyson (the iconic guy behind the “We got a badass over here” meme) complained about how the stars in the night skies shown in “Titanic” were inaccurate, and James Cameron updated the scenes after hearing Tyson’s complaint because he loves science.

In other ways, sci-fi should still be promoted in the entertainment industry.

One of my favorite sci-fi scenes of all time is from the movie “Blade Runner”, starring Harrison Ford. That movie’s villain, Roy Batty, is an AI robot who said one of the most emotional movie quotes of all time – his “Tears In Rain” monologue:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

You don’t really have to understand what that movie’s about. Those two things I mentioned about the villain can make some viewers think about a future of “Astro Boys”, robot ethics, innovative things, … etc.

A lot of things that seem unrealistic in Hollywood films now may end up becoming real in the future.

What if, in the future, someone invented special listening devices to hear sounds in outer space? That’s a far-fetched thought, but I guess it’s an interesting thought.

I read Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” when I was in elementary school, and little did I know that Jules Verne is regarded as an influential man for many inventions that characterize the 20th-century. I’ve seen Leonardo da Vinci’s odd sketches of planes and tanks when I was a kid too, and little did I know that he imagined those vehicles before someone built them.

It’s pretty evident that some people come up with creative ideas and solutions that are related or inspired by unrealistic phenomena depicted in films. So, because of that, I’m against the idea of making movies “more scientifically accurate”.

Instead, I’d like to see more STEM educators teach students about biology, technology, physics, etc. through analyzing popular films that students have most likely seen. That should keep students interested in STEM, and help them better understand abstract STEM concepts.