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How to Talk about Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Using Model UN

Mini project to promote dialogue, understanding and global citizenship
By Kyle Wagner
How to Talk about Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Using Model UN

Student Speaking at General Assembly (Photo source: Kyle Wagner)

Like many of you, I am saddened, disheartened, shocked, and outraged by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over the past weekend.

Why did this happen? How could this happen?

But I am even more inspired by how fast the global community has responded. Several countries have already imposed sanctions. Russia’s access to several funding sources is shut off. NATO is corroborating. Filmmakers are assembling to unveil the whole story.

As educators, what will we have our kids do? What can we do?

I truly believe as cultivators of our world’s future decision and policy makers, that the best starting point is to talk about what is happening, and help students understand what is at stake. But the even bigger question is HOW to conduct these discussions? After four + years leading “Model United Nations” delegations, I believe this is the best way to discuss events of this magnitude.

Through a mock Conference, students act as UN member state delegates to form joint agreements for how to best avert conflict again.

Here is how the process works:

  1. Students choose member UN states to represent
  2. In pairs they research their country and its relationship to the main problem/issue
  3. Students write a position paper outlining their stance
  4. Delegates (students) prepare for a MUN conference with fellow classmates and write opening speeches 
  5. The class holds the conference and works together to write a resolution

Yes, this can work in a remote setting.

Yes, this integrates academic curriculum.

Yes, this achievable for students as young as 10.

And more importantly, it helps build empathy, and foster global citizenship.

I have put together a free resource pack here, and a comprehensive project guide to support you in running this with your students.

As the invasion of Ukraine intensifies, how might we use the same process to empower our students as global citizens, critical thinkers, and problem-solvers?

I had the great privilege of chatting with Robert Gold, the Model United Nations Coordinator at the International School of Kuala Lumpur on how to start the discussion in our classrooms. Through the interview we learn how to:

  1. Help students understand the complexities of the conflict
  2. Seamlessly weave together history, geography, and language topics found in our curriculum
  3. Help students differentiate between “real” and “fake” news 
  4. Organize our own Model United Nations conference with little to no experience
  5. Motivate students to give up entire weekends to the process of diplomacy


The Ukrainian people put their courage on global display this weekend. As educators, I hope we can also demonstrate ours.

In solidarity for Ukraine.

Originally posted on Transform Educational Consulting.

Kyle is the Learning Experience [Co] Designer/ Project Based Learning Coach at Transform Educational Consulting Limited.

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