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PEN America and the Digital Truths Initiative’s Media Literacy “MUN”stitute

Media Literacy MUNstitute Event Image

Registration Deadline for Invited Students: Wednesday, February 28th at 11:59 p.m P.T.


PEN America and the Digital Truths initiative, a student-led organization formed during PEN America’s 2023 Free Expression Advocacy Institute in Los Angeles, are teaming up to co-host the first-ever Media Literacy “MUN”stitute this spring! This FREE two-part, invitation-only program for local Model United Nations students in the South Bay area of Los Angeles aims to enhance participants’ news media literacy and fact-checking skills for use in discourse, research, and debate. Students who attend a preliminary interactive training workshop, complete a thoroughly researched position paper, and participate in a Model United Nations debate simulation will receive a certificate of professional achievement in news media literacy from PEN America.

The program will begin with students attending an introductory training workshop on “Media Literacy for Model UN” and “Global Frontiers for Free Expression Online” on March 13 facilitated by student leaders from the Digital Truths Initiative and staff from PEN America. Following the March 13th event, students will then be individually assigned countries to represent in a simulated Model United Nations debate on March 27th where they will be provided a topic synopsis and required to write a well-researched position paper due by March 20th that lays out policy positions and potential solutions to the issue. The simulation will focus on a contemporary issue related to mis- and disinformation, and students will be expected to exercise due diligence in citing their sources and utilizing learned fact-checking tools in their papers and during debate. All students who complete the program will receive certificates of professional achievement in media literacy from PEN America, and the top 6 performing students will receive special recognitions including an award for “Best Delegate”, two awards for “Outstanding Delegate”, and three awards for “Commendation.”


  • This program is FREE and invitation-only by the Digital Truths Initiative for local Model United Nations students.
  • Snacks will be provided during the workshop, and dinner will be provided during the simulation.
  • The final deadline for invited students to register is Wednesday, February 28th at 11:59 p.m P.T. Capacity is limited so please register as soon as possible if you plan on attending.
  • Location, building, and room information will be sent to registrants closer to the program.
  • If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected].





Workshop: Media Literacy for Model UN and Global Frontiers for Free Expression Online

March 13, 2024, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm


Model United Nations Simulation Position Papers Due

March 20, 2024, 11:59 pm PT


Model United Nations Simulation

March 27, 2024, 3:30 pm – 8:30 pm



Digital Truths Initiative Student Leaders:


Sara Torres is a high school sophomore and a member of her local Model UN program for two years. As an alumnus of the PEN America Free Expression Advocacy Institute, she has developed an interest in incorporating the tactics she has learned there into her own community. Growing up in Manhattan Beach, she has grown fond of the people in her town and participates in education as a way to give back. Outside of Model UN, she is an active member of her school’s clubs and sports.


Neekou Hashemi-Nejad headshotNeekou Hashemi-Nejad is a high school senior. A four-year Model United Nations delegate, she now holds the role of senior Teacher Assistant at her local high school and works to teach a total of 60 freshmen students public speaking skills, current events, and Model UN debate strategy. She is also co-president of her high school’s award-winning Mock Trial Club. She is passionate about advocacy and enjoys exploring this passion through her involvement with Digital Truths and PEN America. Beyond academics and extracurriculars, she loves to attend concerts and listen to live music. 


Flora Uslaner headshot

Flora Uslaner is a high school junior in Manhattan Beach, California. In and outside of school, she has been a part of her local Model United Nations program for three years. Additionally, Flora was one of 16 youth photographers invited to participate in 2023’s Getty Museum’s Unshuttered program. Flora utilizes her love for photography and incorporates her interests in current events to create photojournalism projects that highlight societal issues affecting people worldwide. With Digital Truths, Flora believes that education combating misinformation could empower our future youth community leaders in the South Bay for the better.



PEN America Staff:


headshot of Nicholas Perez

Nicholas “Niko” Perez is the program manager of free expression and education at PEN America. Perez leads Next Gen PEN America, PEN America’s campaign dedicated to empowering a new generation of free expression advocates and building a youth advocacy network that can work together to facilitate positive change. Perez previously worked for the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates Program and consulted for the Human Rights Education and Training section at the United Nations. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in human rights and humanitarian policy and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international politics. He also was a Global Leadership Fellow at Waseda University in Japan, a Model United Nations advisor, and a forensics researcher for the Yahad-in Unum genocide research agency.