Dr. Carmichael’s Revitalized UN Practicum Class: Building Real-World Skills

By Rehna Sheth

This semester, Dr. Carmichael restarted a class that hasn’t been taught in many years called United Nations Practicum (INTL 4710). And let me be the first to say, it is awesome. If you have ever wanted to work for the UN, wanted to be in Model UN but never had the time, or just like learning about international issues, this is the class for you. I have been fortunate enough to take three classes with Dr. Carmichael during my time as a SPIA undergrad, and each class I take with her is better than the last. Dr. Carmichael is a kind, funny, relatable, and caring professor whose love for organization and visual presentations is something I appreciate greatly.

Like all of Dr. Carmichael’s classes, she has designed this class to be hands-on and simulation based. It is essentially a combination of Model UN and learning about current and relevant international issues that are disputed across countries now. Not only can you get experiential learning credit for taking this class, but the preparation and work we do in each simulation helps us develop real-life diplomacy skills, public speaking, negotiating tactics, and learn parliamentary procedure. Each module spans two weeks where students are assigned states to represent in a United Nations forum. The time in class is used to do moderated debates or draft resolutions. Dr. Carmichael is committed to leaving her students with skills and knowledge we can use in the future. Which is why, instead of her assigning us an excess of homework and tests, she has found a way for us to show her what we have learned by assigning an overall participation assignment after each module where we get to choose 1 of 4 creative options to demonstrate our learning. While you do have to do the reading before each module and prepare for your delegation’s position, the topics are fun to learn about and help you better prepare for the in-class debates. After just 3 weeks in this class, I already feel more confident in debating and discussing solutions to the international problems presented to us.

In short, this class is structured similar to a fun academic extracurricular that you can take for both class credit and experiential learning credit. If you are lucky enough to get the chance to take this class, it is an opportunity you won’t want to turn down.