It was a delight to return to Wycombe Abbey last week to run the third Wycombe Model Arctic Council (WYCOMAC) alongside the school’s annual Model United Nations (MUN) conference. WYCOMAC 3 was a small but intense simulation involving 17 pupils from four secondary schools tackling one of the thorniest diplomatic questions that I have yet set—the future of Arctic cooperation in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A full wrap-up note will follow in due course. But I can report now that, after some intense diplomacy—and no effort, energy or enthusiasm spared in the trying—participating delegates were unable to agree a political declaration on the future of Arctic cooperation.
Even so, the educational value of MAC is to be found less in the outcome and more in the doing. Building unanimous consensus is difficult even for seasoned diplomats, and the issue of how Arctic diplomacy could proceed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is easily one of the most challenging issues with which delegates have grappled since I first developed my schools MACs in 2015-16.
By taking up this challenge, participating delegates stretched themselves in new ways. They developed valuable skills in persuasion, negotiation, and consensus building, which will serve them well no matter where life takes them after school. In today’s hyper-partisan political environment, that’s an outcome to be celebrated!
To close, a testimonial from a participating teacher:
Thank you so much for running WYCOMAC, and for supporting [our pupils] so comprehensively and enthusiastically. [One of my pupils] even commented that it was perfect for her (she’s looking to study Geography at uni) and she even preferred it to MUN! [Another of my pupils] worked so hard in the run-up to prepare; he is utterly delighted with his special commendation. I really enjoyed listening in from the room next door – such a different (more collaborative) dynamic than MUN. Our students gained a huge amount from the experience – thank you.
Stay tuned for more, and for WYCOMAC 4 in January 2024!