World Affairs Youth Seminar at Auburn University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Diverse group of students with young man in wheelchair

World Affairs Youth Seminar at Auburn University

Would you be willing to engage in an educational setting that empowers you to contribute to solving intricate issues? Enter the World Affairs Youth Seminar (WAYS) at Auburn University.

This article is your comprehensive guide to understanding what this seminar is, why it’s unique, and why you should consider participating. By the end, you’ll have a clearer vision of how WAYS could be a transformative experience, offering a deep dive into world affairs you won’t find elsewhere.

What Exactly is the World Affairs Youth Seminar?

Conducted by a collaborative team of faculty, staff, and students from Auburn’s College of Education, along with Persistent Issues in History Network members, this seminar is far from your average educational camp.

It employs the Model United Nations (MUN) forum as a dynamic platform to examine global issues in a “real world” context. Picture yourself engaging in heated debates, crafting resolutions, and navigating the complexities of international relations—all within the framework of MUN.

The History and Mission of WAYS

The World Affairs Youth Seminar has a rich history and a mission that sets it apart. Established years ago, WAYS was born out of a need to create a more informed and engaged youth populace.

The seminar aims to equip participants with the tools to understand the world around them, from geopolitics’ intricacies to cultural diplomacy’s nuances. It’s not just a seminar; it’s a movement. A movement that seeks to inspire the next generation of global leaders who are not only well-versed in international affairs but are also proactive in creating positive change.

How Does It Differ from Other Youth Seminars?

WAYS provides a focused and immersive experience, unlike other youth seminars offering a more generalized curriculum. Participants assume the role of country delegates and strive to accurately represent the viewpoints of their assigned country in daily MUN General Assembly sessions.

This role-playing element adds a layer of authenticity and complexity that you won’t find in most other programs. You’re not just a passive learner; you’re an active participant, a delegate representing a nation, grappling with issues that have real-world implications. It’s as close to the United Nations as possible without being there.

The Unique Auburn University Setting

Most of the participants’ instructional hours will be in the newly renovated Mell Classroom Building, a state-of-the-art facility that enhances the learning experience. But it’s not just about the physical space; it’s about the atmosphere Auburn provides.

View of Auburn University.

Known for its strong sense of community and academic excellence, Auburn serves as the perfect backdrop for the World Affairs Youth Seminar. The campus becomes an extension of the classroom, offering many resources and opportunities for further engagement in world affairs.

Whether it’s the cutting-edge technology in Mell Classroom Building or the enriching extracurricular activities available on campus, Auburn elevates the WAYS experience to a new level.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

The answer is more inclusive than you might think. WAYS is designed to be a platform for young minds passionate about international relations, regardless of their prior experience in Model United Nations or debate.

Whether you’re a seasoned MUN participant or a newcomer eager to learn, WAYS offers a rich tapestry of learning experiences catering to varying expertise levels.

Age and Educational Requirements

The World Affairs Youth Seminar is tailored explicitly for rising 10th to 12th graders. Why this age group, you ask? Students crystallize their academic interests and contemplate career paths during these formative years.

It’s a time ripe for exposure to the multifaceted world of international relations, geopolitics, and diplomacy. By targeting rising 10th to 12th graders, WAYS ensures that participants are at a stage where they can not only grasp the complexities of the subjects at hand but also actively contribute to discussions and simulations.

Special Considerations: Scholarships and Financial Aid

The World Affairs Youth Seminar offers scholarships to ensure financial constraints don’t hinder your aspirations. To apply for a scholarship, you must provide basic contact information and a letter of recommendation. You can upload these documents or email them to [email protected].

But that’s not all. You’ll also need to submit responses to two critical questions in one document, up to two pages. The first is an essay where you describe why you want to attend the upcoming World Affairs Youth Seminar and how the scholarship will assist you.

The second is a short answer question focusing on the importance of debate and Model UN. What can we learn from these platforms? Your responses will serve as a testament to your passion for world affairs and offer a glimpse into how you think, argue, and articulate—skills invaluable in international relations.

Why Should You Consider Attending?

The answer is the seminar’s unique blend of experiential learning, skill development, and networking opportunities. WAYS is not just another summer camp or educational program; it’s a transformative experience that aims to shape you into a well-rounded individual capable of navigating the complexities of the global stage.

Sorority members studying together

Whether you’re looking to bolster your college applications, gain a deeper understanding of world affairs, or meet like-minded individuals, WAYS offers many benefits that make it an invaluable experience.

The Skills You’ll Acquire: Leadership, Diplomacy, and More

Let’s talk about the skills you’ll walk away with, shall we? The World Affairs Youth Seminar is designed to be a comprehensive learning experience beyond the traditional classroom setting.

Leadership is a crucial focus, honed through group activities, debates, and the responsibility of representing a nation in the Model United Nations. You’ll also acquire diplomacy, negotiation, and public speaking skills, all within the framework of understanding complex global issues.

Imagine being able to dissect a geopolitical crisis, articulate your viewpoints clearly, and negotiate a resolution—all skills that are not only applicable in international relations but are also highly transferable to other areas of life.

Networking Opportunities: Who Will You Meet?

The seminar attracts diverse participants, from aspiring diplomats to budding journalists, all united by a common interest in world affairs. But it’s not just your peers you’ll be networking with.

WAYS also features guest speakers who are experts in their respective fields, offering you the chance to gain insights and even seek mentorship. Imagine discussing the intricacies of global trade with an economics professor or delving into human rights issues with a UN representative. These interactions could open doors to internships, collaborations, and career opportunities.

The Auburn Experience: Campus Life and Extracurriculars

Finally, let’s not forget the setting where all this unfolds—the Auburn University campus. Auburn is not just a backdrop but an integral part of the World Affairs Youth Seminar experience.

Known for its vibrant campus life and strong sense of community, Auburn offers many extracurricular activities that complement the WAYS curriculum. Whether participating in a cultural event, attending a guest lecture, or simply exploring the scenic campus, Auburn enriches your seminar experience by providing a holistic educational environment.

It’s not just about what you learn in the Mell Classroom Building; it’s about absorbing a university’s culture, values, and spirit that prides itself on academic excellence and community engagement.

What Topics Are Typically Covered?

WAYS covers everything from the intricacies of geopolitics to the ethical dilemmas surrounding human rights. The seminar also touches on climate change, international trade, and global health, offering a well-rounded understanding of the challenges and opportunities that define our world today.

This breadth of topics ensures that you’re not just gaining specialized knowledge in one area but are becoming a more informed and versatile global citizen.

A Dive into the Curriculum: From Geopolitics to Human Rights

Let’s get into the meat of the matter—the curriculum. The World Affairs Youth Seminar employs a unique pedagogical approach combining theoretical knowledge and practical application.

In preparation for daily MUN sessions, country delegates partner with Auburn University graduate and undergraduate secondary social studies education students. This collaboration allows you to deeply explore the value conflicts, factual data, and historical contexts of international issues.

Imagine dissecting the Syrian conflict through the lens of geopolitics or debating the ethical implications of refugee policies. It’s not just about understanding the ‘what’ but also the ‘why’ and the ‘how,’ equipping you with the analytical skills to evaluate complex issues critically.

Guest Speakers and Their Areas of Expertise

One of the standout features of the World Affairs Youth Seminar is the caliber of guest speakers it attracts. These aren’t just speakers but experts in their respective fields, ranging from diplomats and policy analysts to academics and journalists.

Female teacher addressing students in a classroom

Whether it’s a deep dive into the geopolitics of the Middle East or an exploration of ethical considerations in international trade, these guest speakers bring a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience to the table.

Their insights enrich the seminar’s curriculum and offer a glimpse into the practical applications of your learning, bridging the gap between theory and practice.

Workshops and Breakout Sessions: Hands-on Learning

What sets WAYS apart from other educational programs is its emphasis on hands-on learning. The World Affairs Youth Seminar features a variety of workshops and breakout sessions designed to complement the theoretical aspects of the curriculum.

These sessions offer a more interactive and practical approach to understanding global issues. Whether it’s a negotiation workshop that tests your diplomacy skills or a crisis simulation that challenges you to come up with on-the-spot solutions, these workshops provide a dynamic learning environment.

It’s one thing to learn about international relations in a classroom setting; it’s another to actively engage in problem-solving, negotiation, and consensus-building, invaluable skills in the real world.

How Can You Maximize Your Experience?

The key lies in three phases: pre-seminar preparation, active participation during the seminar, and post-seminar engagement. Each phase offers unique opportunities for growth, learning, and networking.

By approaching WAYS with a proactive mindset and a thirst for knowledge, you can transform this seminar from a mere educational program into a life-altering experience.

Pre-seminar Preparation: Reading Lists and Online Resources

Before you even set foot on Auburn’s campus, there’s much you can do to prepare for the World Affairs Youth Seminar. Most participants find immense value in pre-seminar reading lists and online resources. These materials, often provided by the seminar organizers, offer a foundational understanding of the topics covered.

Whether it’s scholarly articles on geopolitics, documentaries on human rights, or podcasts featuring experts in international relations, these resources serve as a primer that can help you hit the ground running.

Don’t just skim through them; engage critically, take notes, and formulate questions. The more prepared you are, the more you’ll be able to contribute to discussions and debates, enriching not just your own experience but also that of your peers.

During the Seminar: Tips for Active Participation

Active participation is crucial once you’re in the thick of the World Affairs Youth Seminar. But what does that entail? First and foremost, don’t be a wallflower. Engage in discussions, ask questions, and offer your perspectives.

WAYS is a safe space for intellectual exploration; every viewpoint is valuable. Secondly, make the most of the networking opportunities. Whether striking up a conversation with a guest speaker or collaborating with peers on a project, these interactions can offer insights and open doors beyond the seminar.

Lastly, participate in the workshops and breakout sessions wholeheartedly. These hands-on experiences are where the theoretical knowledge gained in lectures and readings is tested.

Post-seminar: Staying Connected and Applying What You’ve Learned

The World Affairs Youth Seminar doesn’t end when you leave Auburn University; in many ways, it’s just the beginning. Connecting with your peers and mentors can offer many opportunities for further learning and collaboration.

Many participants join online forums, alum networks, or social media groups dedicated to WAYS alums. These platforms are a continual resource for sharing opportunities insights, and even organizing reunions or collaborative projects.

Applying what you’ve learned is the most crucial aspect of the post-seminar phase. Whether it’s taking up a cause, participating in community outreach, or even choosing a career path influenced by your experiences at WAYS, the actual value of the seminar lies in how it shapes your actions and decisions moving forward.

How Do You Apply and What Should You Expect?

The application process for WAYS is designed to be comprehensive and straightforward, ensuring that each participant is genuinely interested and capable of contributing to the seminar’s intellectual environment.

a male student sitting and thinking intently

But it’s not just about filling out forms and ticking boxes; it’s about showcasing your passion for global affairs, willingness to learn, and ability to engage in meaningful discussions. So, what should you expect? Expect to be challenged, hope to be inspired, and grow intellectually and personally.

The Application Process: Deadlines, Essays, and Interviews

The World Affairs Youth Seminar application process involves several vital components. First, there are deadlines to consider. These are usually well-publicized, but starting your application well in advance is crucial to give yourself ample time to prepare.

Essays form a significant part of the application, often requiring you to articulate why you wish to attend WAYS and what you hope to gain from the experience. These essays are your chance to shine, to showcase your passion for international relations, and to demonstrate your ability to think critically.

Some applicants may also be invited for interviews in person or via video call to assess their suitability for the seminar further.

Costs and Funding Options: Don’t Let Finances Hold You Back

The camp fees for the World Affairs Youth Seminar are $880, which covers a wide range of amenities and activities. This fee includes on-campus housing, all meals, snacks, and drinks while at camp, program instruction, materials, equipment, transportation to and from off-campus field trip sites, and recreational activities.

While the cost might seem steep at first glance, it’s essential to consider the value you’re getting in return—an immersive educational experience that could be a stepping stone to future academic and career opportunities.

Moreover, various scholarships and financial aid options are available to ensure that finances don’t hold you back from this enriching experience.

What to Pack and How to Prepare: A Practical Guide

As the saying goes, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Regarding the World Affairs Youth Seminar, a little preparation can go a long way in enhancing your experience. Packing is one such aspect that requires careful consideration.

The guidelines are clear: pack lightly, but remember essentials like bedding, a towel, and toiletries. Participants are advised to bring up to one suitcase and one personal-sized bag to camp. This makes logistics more accessible and encourages you to focus on what’s necessary for your week-long stay.

Remember, the real journey at WAYS is intellectual, and you’ll want to minimize distractions to make the most of this transformative experience.


As we wrap up this comprehensive guide to the World Affairs Youth Seminar at Auburn University, it’s clear that WAYS is not just a seminar but a transformative experience. It offers a unique blend of academic rigor, practical skills, and invaluable networking opportunities, all set against Auburn’s vibrant campus life.

Whether you’re a high school student looking to delve into international relations, a budding diplomat eager to hone your skills, or simply someone passionate about understanding the complexities of our globalized world, WAYS has something to offer you.

It’s an investment in your future, a stepping stone to academic and career opportunities, and, most importantly, a chance to broaden your horizons and become a more informed, engaged global citizen.

Final Thoughts: Why Do World Affairs Matter to You Now More Than Ever?

In a world that’s increasingly interconnected yet fraught with challenges, understanding world affairs is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. The issues discussed and debated at the World Affairs Youth Seminar—geopolitics, human rights, or climate change—have real-world implications that affect us all, regardless of where we live or what we do.

As young individuals standing at the threshold of adulthood, you have the power to shape the future, and understanding these global issues equips you with the tools to make informed decisions whether voting in an election, choosing a career path, or even engaging in community service, the knowledge and skills gained at WAYS empower you to be a proactive change agent.

Now more than ever, world affairs matter because they shape our lives and the world, we will pass on to future generations. Being a part of WAYS is not just about enhancing your resume; it’s about taking the first step in becoming a responsible, informed global citizen.

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