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Founded to promote an understanding of the complex problems of
international affairs as well as the purposes and functions of the
United Nations, the Gannon Model U.N. will draw together some 500
students representing approximately 40 high schools in the
tri-state area. For those who have never participated in such a
conference, the Model U.N. offers a challenging education in the
dealings among nations.
In the spring or early fall, delegations are assigned country
designations and encouraged to begin to study the issues which will
be under consideration at the forthcoming assembly. As much as
possible, the students are to learn the viewpoint of the government
they are assigned to represent, and are to attempt to speak and
vote according to the interests of that country.
During the fall the member delegations meet in regional blocs,
corresponding to geographic and ideological groupings within the
United Nations itself, to begin to debate the issues and to
formulate strategies for the General Assembly. Gannon advisors may
attend these block meetings to assist their organization.
Father Joseph J. Barr, Ph. D., then chairman of Gannon College's
political science department, founded the Model United Nations. The
International Relations Club originated the concept of Model United
Nations at what was then known as Gannon College. Eleven high
schools in the Erie area participated in the event. In March of
1954, the IRC held the first Model United Nations conference for
high school students in the Erie area. Since then the conference
grew to include more than 800 students from 50 high schools in the
tri-state area and Canada. Having been founded in 1954, it is
believed that our conference is the second oldest in the nation,
after Berkeley. But we are the oldest, consecutively run conference
in the world!
Father Barr believed that the U.N. could bring us closer to
world unity if every person has faith. For Father Barr, the Model
United Nations had two purposes. First, the Model U.N. should give
students the opportunity to learn more about world problems, and in
particular, to see the different viewpoints and positions which are
at work in the United Nations. Second, it should provide experience
in organization, leadership, and debate as well as bring together
college and high school students to work as a team.
As participation increased, the Model assembly was divided into
regional blocs beginning in 1958. In 1967, a model Security Council
was added to the conference. In 1995, a model Economic and Social
Council was added. Also, as the attendance grew, the agenda was
expanded to include more topics of worldwide interest.
Father Barr stepped down as General Moderator in 1968. He left
his project in the hands of Dr. James Brasfield, who moderated in
the 16th and 17th sessions. In 1969, Dr. Gregor Reinhard took over
the responsibility of General Moderator for Gannon's Model United
Nations. Dr. Reinhard served as the General Moderator until 1996
when he was appointed Dean of the College of Humanities, Business,
and Education. Mr. Paul Foust was named to replace Dr. Reinhard for
the 45th annual Gannon Model United Nations. Dr. Anjali Sahay,
associate professor of Gannon's political science program, is
currently serving as General Moderator.