Solving the world’s most pressing problems

Issue: Volume 93, Number 3

Posted: 24 February 2014
Reference #: 1H9ctk

United Nations Youth New Zealand is about to embark on a year-long national Diplomacy Competition to create a fun and accessible way for all New Zealand secondary school students to engage in collaborative problem solving around the world’s most pressing problems.

“As globalisation continues to make our world ever smaller and more connected, being equipped with the diplomatic skills to operate effectively with people, no matter where they are from, is a valuable and necessary life skill,” says Andrew Chen, United Nations Youth Diplomacy Competition coordinator.

“At its most basic level, diplomacy skills involve people getting together to settle differences without fighting. Whether it’s negotiating over the rules of a game of hopscotch or sitting across the table from a diplomat from another country deciding on the details of a free trade agreement, diplomacy is a skill that paves the way for an easier and more enjoyable life.”

The Diplomacy Competition is an online, educative platform designed to teach secondary students about negotiation, communication, writing effective reports, and global issues. It allows for a wide variety of educational content that can be tailored to meet The New Zealand Curriculum and foster leadership and negotiation skills. The website allows students to interact with others around the country, crossing geographic boundaries and logistical difficulties. It also creates flexibility for students and teachers, as they can engage with the platform whenever and wherever it suits them, rather than having to attend a physical event.

“In this co-curricular activity, participants are given a United Nations draft resolution on a global issue. Teams of participants are then assigned a United Nations member state and must write a position paper from the perspective of their allocated member state on the topic provided. Through this process, participants develop valuable research skills and learn detailed knowledge about the world that they live in, and the context within which international issues occur,” says Andrew.

“Through the process of writing a position paper, participants learn persuasive academic writing skills, which will help them in their future careers. The ability to engage with others diplomatically in attempting to persuade them to adopt a position similar to their nation state’s view, teaches participants in the competition negotiating skills. Critically evaluating other students’ work as well as their own also makes use of well-established peer assessment pedagogy to maximise the educational benefit to students.”

In future years, the online platform will be expanded to reflect other institutions, such as the New Zealand Parliament, to allow a full range of curricular experiences.

The competition is free and open to all students from Year 9–13 and runs throughout 2014. More detailed information is available at the UN Diplomacy website(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:49 am, 24 February 2014

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