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How to Create Institutional Memory

Written by Frank Pobutkiewicz

I'm the founder/Managing Director of the All-American Model UN Programs! If you have any questions, please email [email protected]. Happy MUNing!

February 9, 2015

How to Create Institutional Memory

This is the second installment of the “Building a Winning Program” series. 

Building institutional memory in a high school Model UN program can be one of the most challenging jobs for an advisor. And rest assured, this job falls squarely on the faculty member organizing the program. By nature of high school, delegates only have  brief chance to contribute to the construction of a Model UN team.

You’ll notice this trend on the circuit. The most established teams (read: the teams that are winning) tend to have the same advisor or set of advisors for quite a period of time. This tenure shows during closing ceremonies when, predictably, the same teams continue to win big.

So let’s say you’re not on faculty. How can a student create institutional memory? Before we get there, let’s review why you should care about creating institutional memory.

  1. Create institutional memory so you don’t have to repeat tedious work. There is a lot of logistics and planning involved with Model UN. Why spend time every year doing the same menial tasks, like scheduling, simulation and practice planning, and creating training material? Do it once really well and pass it down.
  2. Ensure continued success of your program. One of my biggest regrets after high school was that I didn’t do enough to ensure my Model UN club had the resources it needed to survive. Instead it dwindled and collapsed. Don’t let this happen!
  3. Build off of successes to start winning delegation awards. Duh. One of the main reasons to create institutional memory is to start winning at conferences!

Write a Organizational Constitution

It may seem like an academic exercise, but only if you allow it be. Writing an organizational constitution should be a join effort between all of the members of an organization. One of the best ways to do this is to run a GA-style simulation but instead of writing a draft resolution, have members write a constitution.

Your organizational constitution should act as the team contract for your Model UN club. It should include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Outlining expectations for members regarding participation, effort, and attendance;
  • Describing penalties and incentives for members to meet the standards laid out;
  • Describing all of the activities your Model UN organization participates in, which may include a travel team, weekly meetings, fundraising, and more;
  • Enumerating the exact steps for election procedure and the positions on your executive team, which may include positions such as Secretary-General, Travel Team Captain, Treasurer, and more;
  • Setting goals for the organization or creating a mechanism for goals for be set each year.

Create a Resolution Library

This can be a tedious task but after it’s completed, your team will be in a position to win every conference you attend. This may not be the be all, end all for debate training, but for substantive training, no other item can help a team more.

What is a Resolution Library?

From now on, at every conference you attend, bring back as many draft resolutions from each committee you have a team member in. Review each for good clauses and ideas and categorize them by topic.

In time, you will have binders of resolutions parts that can be crafted together in the future. If, for example, you are in a committee discussing small weapons and light arms, you go to the library and look up all the clauses you’re team has collected on the subject.

Every winning team has some variation of a resolution library. Without one, every member of your teams falls week, even months behind a team that starts with all of their research organized in front of them.

Build Training Material

Every year your Model UN team will have to recruit, train new members, organize debate and speech practices, and run mock simulations. Yet, most teams spend countless hours re-creating all of this material every year. What a waste!

Set up a time for senior members (in experience, not age) to get together and start crafting all of your training documents. Slide decks, debate and speech exercises, and even simulations can be crafted for use each year. Then, rather than re-doing all of this work each year, you can review and edit it instead.

Here are three training items every serious Model UN organization should have:

  1. First meeting of the year slideshow
  2. 10-15 public speaking exercises
  3. Research requirements for conferences for each member to complete


Building an winning Model UN programs starts with creating the infrastructure around it. Trying to train a winning team without the right tools can be a frustrated and futile effort. It may sounds like a lot of work and that’s because it is. Still, if your goal is to start winning, there are no more excuses for not knowing that to do.

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