The Penn Model Organization of American States (OAS) program is a university-community based program engaging undergraduate and high school students in academic, experiential learning to explore solutions to the most pressing problems facing the Americas. Students come from public high schools across the city and the Norristown area to work with Penn college students in preparing to serve as “diplomats” in the annual Model OAS simulation in Washington, D.C. in late November. During the semester, students write policy papers, research OAS member countries and issues pertaining to the four pillars of the OAS – democracy, development, security, and human rights. They also engage in public speaking, and interact with policy experts, public officials, and leading scholars in the field. The student-centered Penn Model OAS program strives to activate and educate a global participatory citizenry.
The Penn Model OAS program would not be possible without the partnership of Fox Leadership International, the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, the School of Arts and Sciences, Perry World House, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, or the participation of CCATE, Central High School, and Bodine High School for International Affairs.
**In Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, Penn undergraduates will offer additional office hours to help students with PMOAS coursework. The Penn mentors will also be available to help PMOAS students and alumni who are juniors and seniors with navigating the college application process and overall college preparedness, including SAT tutoring, high school work, and other academic help.
Structure of the program
The Penn Model OAS Program commences every Spring semester as part of the course International Organizations in Latin America (LALS 208/PSCI 209), taught by LALS Associate Director, Professor Catherine Bartch. The course is structured as a seminar where students explore in-depth the history, role, and impact of international organizations in Latin America over the past century, with a close examination of the OAS, the oldest regional organization in the world, designed to collectively foster peace, justice, and solidarity among the states. The class prepares students for their participation in the Model OAS conference for college students, which takes place in late March/early April. Students also bring theory into practice with an assignment designed for them to take action to address a problem related to one of the four main pillars of the OAS.
In the fall semesters, the Penn Model OAS program offers a service-learning course for Penn undergraduates and Philadelphia and Norristown high school students that participate in CCATE, the Centro de Arte Cultura y Educación. This course educates students on regional issues in the Americas and the workings of the OAS as it guides them in writing policy papers on issues pertaining to democracy, development, security, and human rights. Students also enhance public speaking and critical thinking skills and take action bridging theory with praxis. Every year, the course will seek to generate synergies with the yearly-theme of the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy (AMC), such that students in the course will also participate in the events organized by the AMC in the fall semester of each year. Penn undergraduates in the program will participate in collaborative training, which focus on the program’s design, content, innovative pedagogical approaches, and the overall curriculum. The high school students will prepare for the High School Model OAS simulation in Washington, DC, which takes place in late November every year.