Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee

Dear Delegates,

I am excited to welcome you to the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM) at Harvard National Model United Nations 2017!

My name is Melia Henderson and I am a sophomore at Harvard, most likely concentrating in Computer Science with a minor in Government. I am from Oakland, California. Growing up in such a diverse place has pushed me to work to understand a multitude of perspectives, and Model UN is the perfect place to deepen this understanding. Thus far, I have loved my experience participating in Model UN. I served in HNMUN and HMUN last year, and am excited to return this year.

When I am not focused on Model UN, I am debating the politics of race and ethnicity; engaged in the Black Student Association; or mentoring low-income students with a focus on college readiness and business exposure.

I cannot wait to meet all of you, direct SOCHUM and hear all of your nuanced ideas and opinions. I know debate will be lively and engaging. I am excited to announce the topics this year: Economic Development in Indigenous Communities and the Digital Divide, both of which should spark complex and thrilling debate and push you to think outside of the box in order to implement creative solutions. In the first topic, delegates will work together to understand, empathize and attempt to undo some of the negative policies and actions that individuals, states and countries have implemented against indigenous communities, in order to economically boost these communities facing severe poverty. In the second topic, delegates will research the effects of technology (specifically information and communication technologies) on society, such as socioeconomic status or culture. Keeping these effects in mind, delegates will gain the knowledge necessary to create tools and strategies to combat the digital divide and more importantly, use technology to close gaps such as income and cultural gaps.

I look forward to meeting you and hope you are as excited as I am to engage in these issues and find possible solutions. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have.

Melia Henderson
Director, Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: Economic Development in Indigenous Communities

Historically, the treatment of Indigenous Peoples by local, state and national governments has been founded on a lack of understanding and respect, which has lead to the marginalization of indigenous peoples geographically, politically and economically. Today, indigenous communities continue to face human rights violations such as the dispossession of land, forced removal, brutality and denial of land rights, which have serious cultural and economic repercussions. According to the United Nations’ publication “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples,” indigenous peoples make up about one-third of the world’s extremely poor rural people, yet only about five percent of the world’s population. This topic will focus on alleviating the economic burdens many indigenous communities face.

Topic Area B: The Digital Divide

As technology becomes more advanced and takes a more prominent and invasive role in our lives, the divide between countries, states, cities and people in terms of access to information and communication technologies (ICT) is also growing. This divide leads to further inequality along the lines of access to opportunities, education, and income. Yet, ICT can be a means of providing opportunity to enhance socioeconomic and democratic development. How can technology diffuse to poorer rural communities? What are lower tech options that could be used in order to increase access? This topic will explore the implications of the digital divide, the effects of such and the possible solutions that could not only close the digital divide but economic, educational, informational and cultural divides as well.