University News

Students Plan Virtual Conference to Share Passion for Model United Nations

Members of the University of New Haven’s award-winning Model United Nations team will be hosting a virtual conference to introduce prospective, incoming, and current students to the many opportunities they would have through their involvement with the organization.

June 30, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Marissa Lehner
Marissa Lehner (center) at a Model United Nations conference.

Marissa Lehner ’21 has had many meaningful experiences as part of the University of New Haven’s Model United Nations (MUN) program, and she wants to share her passion with other students. That’s why she’s helping to plan a conference to introduce students to the program.

A national security major, Lehner is involved with organizing the logistics of the conference, titled “Zoom Model United Nations (ZMUN),” and she’s working to ensure that the conference, which will be held virtually, retains the most impactful parts of an in-person Model United Nations event.

“The most important thing that I’ve learned during the process is how important it is to be adaptable,” said Lehner, who attended an international MUN conference in Erfurt, Germany, with the University’s team last year.

"This is a great opportunity for students to work together to address real challenges facing the world now and in the very near future."Marissa Lehner ’21

“A year ago, no one would have expected that virtual conferences would be the new reality, but we have been able to adapt the spirit of the experience into what students will see at ZMUN. It has shown me that, especially now, it is worth it to make minor sacrifices in order to preserve as many opportunities as possible.”

The conference, which is free of charge, is designed for students who are new to MUN, although experienced delegates are welcome. Open to prospective, incoming, and current University of New Haven students, it will take place on July 8 and 9 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day. It is for students who are interested in topics such as international affairs, national security, political science, global challenges, and the United Nations.

“This is a great opportunity for students to work together to address real challenges facing the world now and in the very near future,” said Lehner. “I hope that participants gain a better idea of what MUN is. I hope that they are able to take full advantage of the experiences they will have during the ZMUN conference.”

During the two days, students will work in groups to discuss possible solutions to world challenges, give speeches about their assigned country’s stance on a topic, and hear from keynote speakers. University of New Haven students will serve as guides for each working group, helping facilitate the simulations and offering suggestions and guidance.

Image of Marissa Lehner (right) and Isabelle Lupinacci ’22.
Marissa Lehner (right) and MUN partner Isabelle Lupinacci ’22.

"Our MUN program is excited to organize ZMUN, a joint national security, international affairs, and political science conference engaging students in a simulation of the United Nations,” said Chris Haynes, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science and national security and director of the University’s Model United Nations program. “ZMUN is the latest MUN endeavor inspired by the vision and values of our benefactors Philip Bartels ’11 Hon. and Susan Bartels, who always encourage our students to give back to our community and inspire the next generation of student leaders. I am so proud of our team of more than 15 students, led by Marissa, who are spending their summer responding to the Bartels family’s call by organizing this great event."

Students will hear from Matthew Schmidt, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science and national security, and Howard Stoffer, Ph.D., an associate professor of national security who served as a senior foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State for 25 years. Richard Boucher, a senior fellow in international and public affairs at Brown University who served as an ambassador to Cyprus and is a former spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, will also serve as a keynote speaker.

“This is something I’m involved with because I truly believe it is important,” said Lehner. “The skills that I have developed through MUN have helped me become the person I am today. I can only imagine how much more impactful the experience would have been if I had been exposed to it earlier. That’s why this conference is so important. It allows interested students to experience what our program is like, no matter where they are or what prior experience they have.”

To learn more about ZMUN, please visit the event website.

Students who would like more information should email Marissa Lehner at