Evan Baum, '03, influences students daily while working as the assistant dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Outside of work, he also influences students through his consistent volunteer work with YMCA Model U.N. program.

For more than 10 years, he has had an active role in the academic simulation of the United Nations that educates participants about global cooperation, civics, communications, globalization and diplomacy. The Model U.N. program provides students with a better understanding of the inner workings of the United Nations as well as the opportunity to build skills in diplomacy and compromise. Model U.N. brings diverse groups of informed students together in a forum for addressing global concerns in a "real world" context.

Baum was a participant in the Model U.N. throughout high school and attended the annual conference in Hershey, Penn., as a delegate alongside his peers from 1996 to 1999. After graduating from Westfield Senior High School in New Jersey in 1999, Baum returned to the conference as a college adviser, working in a support capacity with high school students. "I've done everything from help train the student leaders to help expand the conference to new and a more diverse mixture of high schools, to recruit college alumni of the conference to return as advisers, to implement new training tools to assist high school teachers better prepare their students for the conference, and plenty more."

As a volunteer leader, he supervises some 35 undergraduate and graduate students who staff the three-day conference on international affairs. Under his leadership, the conference has doubled in size, from 600 to 1,200 participants in 2009. 

According to its Web site, Model U.N. students step into the shoes of ambassadors from member states to debate current issues on the organization's agenda. Participants research a country, take on roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult and then develop solutions to world problems. Playing their roles as ambassadors, students make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model U.N. conference rules of procedure. Before attending conferences, students thoroughly research the country they represent and its issues. Reportedly, some 90,000 U.S. students participate in Model U.N. each year.

While it is uncertain precisely when or where the Model U.N. concept started, it is an early example of "experiential learning," in which students have active learning experiences by role playing, learning in a community setting or engaging in an internship or other hands-on experience.

Baum's interest and dedication to the organization comes from his belief that the Model U.N. experience is a worthwhile opportunity for high school students "to immerse themselves in the life of an international diplomat by examining potential solutions to real-life global challenges while developing consensus-building, public speaking and researching skills. The other aspect of the conference experience is the friendships that are formed. I've met, and continue to be connected to, some amazing people through my participation." Baum and his wife, Beth, met serving as volunteers with the conference as undergraduate college advisers.

Baum said he had "always believed in giving as much as I can to organizations and causes I feel strongly about and contributing my time and expertise in ways that can be of benefit to others."

Spring 2009
This is one of a group of articles featuring Jepson School graduates and students as part of the 150 Days in a Lifetime of Service campaign.