Youth Voices: Fair Access to Resources and Quality of Life
By Sara P. Chavarria and Rachel Hughes

Time: 3 class periods
Materials: Lobbying sheets (32)
Formal Resolution sheets (32)
Program of Events (8)
Resolution voting cards
Name tags
Country tags (8)
Procedural rules (8)
Motion cards/student
8 folders


The forum is the major component of the quarter project. Student delegates conduct a “United Nations” style session in which they are challenged to develop a resolution or resolutions that address how to feed a growing population, taking into consideration quality of life and the impact on the environment. Prior to the forum students have been assigned countries (Lesson 1-Language Arts), practiced debate (Lesson – Debating), conducted research (Portfolio), developed a country display (Display), and written final resolutions (Exploring Issues & Writing Resolutions.) This activity is the summation of the quarter’s work, allowing students to demonstrate an integrated understanding of biological and social issues that impact how we might feed the world’s human population. Both short-term and long-term costs and benefits must be taken into account when students address the forum’s charge. Invariably, environmental health and biomedical matters are one of the central points of discussion.

Students start off the forum with the informal lobbying process and then progress to the debate. The final product is the adoption of one or more resolutions agreed upon by a vote.

Students will be able to:
1. Synthesize information from multiple classes to form clear and concise arguments in the form resolutions.
2. Verbally express the views of the country they represent.
3. Negotiate resolution content.
4. Use a specific form of formal speech while representing the ideas of their group/country


Teacher Background

Resource Websites



Engage (How do mutations affect a species?)
Day 1 – Lobbying
Just as at any conference much of the exchange of ideas at the Youth Voices Forum will occur outside the hallowed halls of the formal conference during the lobbying stage. The first day of the forum students should dress appropriately; refer to the dress code sheet in the portfolio.

As students (delegates) enter the room, they are greeted by the conference host (teacher) who is at the registration table. Delegates register and each group receives a folder containing a program of events, nametags, country sign, 4 lobbying sheets, and 4 resolution sheets. Announce to the students the formal opening of this the Youth Voices Forum: Fair Access to Resources and Quality of Life. The students are invited to mingle with their fellow delegates to learn a little more about their countries and to begin the informal negotiation process. Delegates from each country should group together and establish which delegates and countries they might want to lobby. Inform students that this is the time that they might form alliances with other countries, amend or merge resolutions or even dismiss a resolution. Let students know that the resolution that they wrote may never see the debate, but may become part of another resolution. Remind students that building alliances and ad hoc committees might be very useful, but be careful to make sure that if they combine resolutions that these still make sense and are consistent with their country’s policies.

In their folders students will find the lobbying sheets. After identifying delegates and countries that they might want to target in their lobbying efforts, students enter each of the draft resolutions onto the lobbying form. They should record all possible alliances and points of dissention on their lobbying sheet. Allow them 15 minutes to mingle to get an idea of other countries’ perspectives and resolutions. Encourage delegates to talk to at least three different countries during this time. After fifteen minutes, country delegates reconvene, share findings, rewrite draft resolutions, and redirect efforts. Allow 10-15 additional minutes for further negotiations and rewriting of draft resolutions.

The final 10 minutes delegates reconvene with their country and prepare their formal resolutions for tomorrow’s formal dialogue. The formal resolutions should be able to be displayed tomorrow as they are submitted. One method of doing this would be to provide each country with an overhead sheet on which to place their four resolutions. If delegates from different countries form an alliance to support or oppose a resolution, they should tentatively agree at this point which delegates will talk to the house.

Remind students to review the rules of procedure for the next day.

Day 2-3 Forum
Prior to students arriving, arrange the classroom so that each group sits in a U shape. Each group should be arranged so that their secretary and speaker are at the forefront on the inside of the U. In front of each group have a table or desk so that the speaker and secretary can take notes. Place the country signs, and delegates’ names at the front of the table. Clipboards for the two remaining delegates would also be useful. See diagram for clarification.

Delegates arrive and sit at their assigned tables. As teacher you will act as chairperson. Remind delegates that the conference will follow the rules of procedure. Also remind them the charge of the forum is to develop resolutions that address “How to feed a growing population taking into consideration quality of life and the impact on the environment.” Delegates should also be reminded that the goal is not necessarily to have their resolution incorporated into the final class set of resolutions untouched, but to have the principles that are important to their country represented. Their resolution may never see the floor if another country submits a resolution that addresses that issue. Students must ask themselves: Does the resolution on the floor conflict with one of their own or support it?

Order of Debate
Adapted slightly from Poland’s MUN site

1. The Chair (teacher) calls the house to order.

2. The Chair calls upon the submitter of a resolution to read the resolution aloud to the house. The submitter is the author, or one of the co-authors, of the resolution and its main proponent. When he or she has finished reading the resolution, the Chair asks if anyone seconds the motion. Any member of the house from another country may simply call out: "Second". NB: An unseconded motion cannot be debated. (If students need to be reminded, it may be appropriate to switch out of the Chair role and, as the teacher, encourage questioning of the resolution.)

3. The Chair fixes the debate time, e.g. 5-10 minutes for the motion and 5-10 minutes against the motion. (This is the norm for a single teaching period of 45 minutes, if one allows for time taken up by purely procedural matters, e.g. reading the resolution, points of information, points of order, voting procedures etc. It hardly allows for any lengthy debate on proposed amendments. Thus, for a serious and well-prepared debate, a double period is essential.)

4. The debate begins
The Chair gives the floor to the submitter, who is allowed to further support the resolution after which he or she may yield to points of information, i.e. answer questions from members of the house who have been recognized by the Chair. Points of information must be in the form of a question. The time taken for the question is not included in the debate time, but time taken for answer is included. The speaker may retain the floor for the whole of the debate time or may yield the floor during the debate time to another member of the house to speak in favor of the motion. He or she may simply yield the floor when finished without nominating the speaker to follow. Once a speaker has yielded the floor, no more points of information may be addressed to him or her.

5. If a speaker yields the floor without nominating another member of the house, the Chair will recognize any member of the house who wishes to speak in favor of the motion. This procedure is followed until debate time for the motion has been exhausted.

6. When the debate time for the motion has been exhausted, the Chair calls upon the speaker to yield the floor. The Chair then declares the floor open to members of the house who wish to speak against the motion.

7. The Chair recognizes a member of the house to speak against the motion. The same procedure is followed for the opponents as for the proponents.

8. When the debate time has been exhausted, the Chair may, depending upon circumstances, propose an extension of time or close the debate and put the motion to a vote. Once the Chair has closed the debate, all points, except points of order relating to the conduct of the voting, are out of order. Voting is normally by means of a show of hands.

9. The Chair conducts the vote by counting the number of votes in favor, the number against, and the number of abstentions. Normally, a simple majority of those voting either is required for the passing or failing of a resolution, abstention being simply disregarded. (Other voting requirements should have been agreed on by the whole house before the debate commences.) The Chair announces the result of the vote.

10. Amendments: Any speaker who has the floor may propose an amendment to the resolution. A resolution may be amended by adding, striking, inserting or striking and inserting any word, phrase or clause in the operative clauses. However, if this takes place in debate time for the resolution, the general purpose and intent of the amendment must be within the general purpose and intent of the original resolution and should seek merely to improve or clarify something in the resolution. Amendments proposed in debate time against the resolution may seek to alter the resolution in a more radical way and, if carried, may have the effect of turning the original proponents into opponents and vice versa. A copy of the proposed amendment has to be submitted in writing to the Chair before it is proposed. The Chair will decide on the propriety of the amendment and, once the speaker has formally proposed it, ask for a "second". The amendment is then debated as a subsidiary motion, in the same way as the main motion (the resolution). The Chair fixes a debate time for and against the amendment, recognizes speakers, closes the debate on the amendment, and conducts a vote on the amendment, which, if it carries, becomes part of the resolution. Once an amendment has been proposed, debate on the main motion is suspended until the amendment has been debated and voted upon, after which debate on the main motion continues from the point at which it was suspended. The speaker who proposed the amendment will retain the floor if the amendment fails.

Embedded Assessment

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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