Universities around the world are melting pots of cultures, ideologies and varied opinions and the breeding grounds for debate on issues and challenges faced by the world at any given time. They are also key platforms for the youth to develop understanding of the world beyond the curricular and pedagogical perimeters as they provide various avenues for discussions, both in and out of classrooms.
Breaking away from their traditional practices, more and more Pakistani universities are offering students the space to debate, discuss and deliberate upon issues emerging in an ever-changing world. Though a ban on student unions has certainly deprived students of a much needed platform to voice their opinions, Model United Nations (MUN) have somewhat filled the gap. The event has become a key calendar event in many Pakistani universities and more and more are coming forward to offer students this crucial space for debate.
In the very stride, Habib University Karachi recently concluded its first ever MUN on Sunday, October 29, following four days of activities. Dubbed Habib University Model United Nations (HUMUN), the event was entirely managed by university students and was the first MUN in Pakistan that was actually organised in collaboration with the United Nations. Key areas of discussions included CPEC, the Pakistani economy, sustainability, diversity, colonization, history of the subcontinent and the creation of Pakistan, human intelligence and artificial intelligence, big data and the power of cartography.
HUMUN also saw the commissioning of two new committees. The CPEC Committee deliberated issues pertinent to the Pakistani economy in the realm of a changing Pak-China relationship. The other committee, Special Decolonization Committee on the Subcontinent (SDCS) raised debate about the history of the Subcontinent and the creation of Pakistan – a topic of deep importance in Habib University’s teaching and also spoken about at its annual Post-Colonial Higher Education Conference (PHEC). HUMUN was attended by over 300 delegates from institutions across the country, while keynote speakers included social and human rights activists Jibran Nasir and Kami Sid.
HUMUN chief guest, Pakistan’s former ambassador to UAE Jamil Ahmed Khan, said events such as HUMUN were extremely important as they provided young minds exposure to critical and analytical debate and discussion.
Dr Craig Phelan, dean of School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Habib University, said events like HUMUN were critical to increase global political awareness, especially for young adults at university level. “It is a great idea to progressively debate about social, geo-political, and economic issues,” he said. Member National Assembly Nafisa Shah, who also attended the event, congratulated Habib University for initiating the MUN and its success.