The Looking Glass

AP Euro Classes Decide the Fate of Europe

Gabby Landry '18, Editor-in-Chief

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If you had the fate of Europe in your hands, what would you do?  Mrs. Forsgard’s AP European History classes explored that very question on January 19th, 20th, and 23rd through a Model UN-style Congress of Vienna.  During the Congress, students represented different European countries and kingdoms at Vienna, where the European nations decided the best ways to restore land, economic stability, and peace after Napoleon’s conquests.

 

Though we represented countries with varying roles in the Napoleonic wars, amounts of power, and degrees of stability, we had to work together to “solve” the complex historical problems that the actual Congress faced in 1814.  Deviation from history was not only allowed, but encouraged.  

 

On the 19th, we met first period to “open debate.”  We soon opened moderated caucuses (formal debates with set topics and speaking times) to discuss the Continental System (which Napoleon implemented to block trade to Britain), economic problems, the balance of power, and other issues.  

 

Aine Ford ‘18 said: “I liked the Congress; I thought it was a really creative way to learn the material.  It was difficult to remember and learn in the beginning, but after the rules of procedure were explained, it was super easy by the end.  Everyone was really knowledgeable about their respective topics, and respectful about how we discussed it.”

 

Though we had hoped to reach a resolution by the end of that first class period, there was so much to discuss that we extended the Congress until our next class on the 20th.  Outside of class, we continued to discuss various positions and possible solutions, waiting excitedly for the next Congress session.

 

We continued the debate on the 20th, and everyone seemed more comfortable making motions and speaking on behalf of her country.  The debate became more exciting as we began discussing whether to unify certain countries, such as the German states and the Italian kingdoms.  

 

Towards the end of the second session, we began to draft a working paper, but we still needed more time to discuss and negotiate the details.  As a result, we motioned to extend the Congress yet again, to Monday the 23rd.

 

We wrapped up the Congress on Monday with a final unmoderated caucus.  Then, we presented our working paper, which discussed our proposed solutions, some of which included: to abolish the Continental System, to restore pre-war land to the Great Powers, and to deal with France by establishing protective borders and restoring the Bourbon monarchy.  Finally, we voted on the working paper, and it became our resolution.

 

Maggie Gilbert ‘18 added: “The congress overall was a really cool experience!  My initial reaction was a little overwhelmed, because it was so formal and I was a little intimidated, but by the end I was becoming more comfortable with the language. The different topics raised helped me understand what was important in the real Congress of Vienna, and they were interesting to debate.  I also got really into playing my country, and even when it is mentioned in class now, I get a little excited; it’s like I have a mini-nationalist attachment to that country.”

 

Experiences like this Model UN-style Congress allow us to think about the European History material in new ways, as we can consider how we would have decided the fate of Europe after the Napoleonic wars.  The Congress also gave us the opportunity to hone speaking and collaboration skills in a low-pressure environment.
Isabel Buckley ‘18 said: “I came to love my country and found that I was learning so much more than I would have by just reading the textbook…I think that the Congress was eye-opening. It really gave a whole new perspective of the actual Congress and gave us the opportunity to think like diplomats back in 1814!”

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