This is the third installment of the “Building a Winning Program” series.
The most common question I encounter from students and teachers alike is about which conferences to attend. It would be a big mistake to assume this is a simple or easy question to answer. Crafting a conference roster for a Model UN program depends on a number of factors. We’ve started to work with schools on a one-on-one basis to help design customer conferences rosters. Here’s an general outline of how we construct conference recommendations.
Determine Your Goals
As mentioned in the previous installment of the Building a Winning Program Series, How to Create Institutional Memory, laying out specific, achievable goals is a major part of building a winning Model UN program.
Before you choose your conferences, examine your organizational goals. Do you have a special emphasis on learning and research? Is winning delegations and team awards important? Do you want to explore a particular field of interest? How do you feel about large committees vs. small committees?
For the sake of this post, let’s make a few assumptions so that we can continue through the exercise. We’ll assume you are reading this because you are interested in developing a competitive, successful Model UN team with the following 2 conference goals:
- You want to win at least one delegation award at a Mid-Major conference;
- You want at least 35% of your team members to win individual awards at each conference;
Those are achievable goals and depending on the current state of your team, could be challenging to meet.
Determine Conference Requirements and Team Parameters
There’s a practical necessity to examine what each conference offers and demands, in terms of finances, delegate experience, academic experience, competitiveness, and transparency.
Let’s define a hypothetical set of conference requirements and team parameters for your team:
- You have to bring between 16-24 students per conference;
- You cannot fly to conferences, all travel must be done by bus, car, or train;
- You only have the finances to attend 2 mid-major or major conferences per year;
- Quality academic experience is equally as important as competitiveness;
Mocking Up a Conference Roster
Now that you have your goals outlined and have defined your conference requirement and team parameters, we can start mocking up a conference roster. I follow some basic guidelines when making recommendations to Model UN teams, which I’ll outline below:
- A truly competitive Model UN team should be competing, on average, every 6 weeks. One conference per month is excessive, but it is unreasonable to think you can be a competitive team attending only one conference per semester.
- Competitive Model UN teams need to build momentum. Going to one conference is like swinging at only one pitch in baseball. Build up momentum throughout a semester or year by attending local conferences, then regional, then mid-major conferences. The goal is to gain experience on which to rely as conference become more competitive.
- Choose only 1 Major conference to attend. The six conferences which we have designated as Major conference (BMUN, YMUN, HMUN, ILMUNC, MUNUC, and NAIMUN) all require an abnormal amount of preparation and finances. Choose one of these conferences as your team’s “Super Bowl” and make winning a delegation award at a Major conference your championship.
- Space Mid-Majors&Majors apart by at least 6 six weeks OR bring different teams. As the last point mentions, mid-majors and major conferences take a lot out of a team. Make sure to give your team enough time to refresh and rebound between big conferences. Alternatively, consider bringing different teams.
- Consider creating different sized teams. There’s no requirement stating you have to bring the same number of delegates to each conference you attend. Experiment with taking different sized delegations to different conferences. For smaller but intense conferences, like CMUNCE, consider bringing a “power” team of 6-8 students. For conferences with GAs and ECOSOCs (about 1200-1500 in attendance), bring a larger, more diverse team of first timers and veterans.