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    Model-UN at KazNARU teaches students to deal with global challenges

    The knowledge of and ability to deal with global challenges have been promoted by the Model-UN series of workshops at Kazakh National Agrarian Research University (KazNARU). During the seminars, students and junior faculty members became young international experts in the field of UN Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They discussed many different issues including such topics as global food security, the impact of climate changes on regional and global agriculture including such important commodities as grain production, improvement of education among children, and many other topics.

    Throughout the year, the participants of the Model-UN workshops dedicated the activities to the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan joining the United Nations in 1992, and they organized the events within the framework of activities of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) program at KazNARU. The main goal included popularizing the knowledge about SDGs, searching for mechanisms for involving young people in the implementation of SDGs, and developing new skills and competencies. The Model UN trainers have also worked on the development of creative imagining, soft skills and critical thinking, and such skills like diplomacy and negotiations. The workshops were conducted with the support of diplomatic missions in Almaty city (including the USA and some other countries) and the United Nations Information Office (UNIO) of the UN Department of Global Communication.

    The Rector of KazNARU Tlektes I. Yesbolov pointed out that the researchers at many universities in the Silk Way region pay great attention to research on sustainable development and green economy. These research projects and practical recommendations could contribute to solving many global challenges at the local, regional, and even global levels. In this context, there is the increasing role of young graduates and scientists, who need to develop practical skills and competencies in order to transfer the results of their research experiments into practical projects. In this context, KazNARU accumulated solid and unique experiences such as the reproduction of plants through special technologies to make those plants more sustainable to bacteria and climate changes. University experts also conducted some studies on improving the management of scarce surface, underground and torrential water resources. “Our students and young scholars should have skills and navigate competencies for dealing with those problems” – said Dr. Yesbolov.

    Indeed, the urgency of global challenges requires urgent and innovative solutions. In this context, undergraduate and graduate students should acquire knowledge by experimenting in laboratories and experimental fields and by working directly with industries. It is very important to transform universities toward – what Johann Wissema called – the “third-generation University,” where students and scientists together work on not only creating knowledge but practical implementation of the knowledge. Therefore, the Model UN movement is emerging as one of the mechanisms for the development of practical skills and competencies, the ability to orient in the modern world and deal with global challenges with concrete actions.

    Prof. Rafis Abazov, Director of the Institute for green and sustainable development and the author of research on Model-UN phenomena believes that Model-UN could become one of the important parts of student life and extracurricular activities. First, it brings together active youth into various local, national, and international networks. Secondly, it popularizes knowledge about the SDGs and mobilizes young people to address and solve many global challenges at the local level, especially the campus level. Thirdly, the development of the educational component of Model UN includes the strengthening of such skills as creative thinking, creative approaches to developing and implementing social innovation projects, and improving communication competencies to work with colleagues at local, national to international levels. He quoted “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

    The photo is courtesy of Rafis Abazov, Institute for green and sustainable development, KazNARU

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