Model EU Simulations are designed to awaken curiosity about the EU among students through active experimental and inquiry-based learning. Each of the three events is open to high school students from all NZ high schools, with particular efforts made to include students from rural and lower socio-economic schools and regions. The simulation engages students directly in the learning process and enables students to make their own discoveries about Europe. Participants assume the roles of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) or Ministers from an EU Member State.
Through carefully designed self-study materials and interactive exercises, students gain knowledge on the specific topic area, as well as the EU’s history, organisation, governance and functioning. Each event is given a general theme relating to current events or developments in the EU and is specifically relevant to young people. Most participants of previous events had little to no knowledge of the EU before the simulation. Participation gave them the opportunity to learn about the success of the EU and in many cases, stimulated further interest – evidenced by their enrolment in European and European Union Studies at university.
This innovative hands-on experience enables students to gain practical experience in, and understanding of, the difficulties of the negotiation processes of the EU, underlining the complexities of relationships and issues the EU has to deal with. Smaller workshop groups break up larger Committee Meetings and promote the development of interpersonal skills, negotiation tactics, respect and understanding of different opinions. The practical skills gained equip students to perform better at school and to take an active role in their community. It is here that participants often get inspired to do additional research and recognize the importance of the topic they are dealing with.
Throughout the simulation students are guided and mentored by postgraduate students – ‘Topic Experts’ – and experienced academics, ensuring students get accurate, up-to-date information and feel comfortable in the environment. ‘Topic Experts’ are selected EU Studies postgraduate students that, under the guidance of experienced academics, research and assist with the preparation of educational materials, exercises and workshops.
Members of the governmental and diplomatic communities are invited to participate through keynote presentations, question & answer sessions and informal discussions to raise awareness and visibility of the complexities of the EU in today’s world, and the importance of developing multicultural competencies, respect and interpersonal skills. The project makes special efforts to involve the EU Delegation to NZ.