Model United Nations can be a rewarding experience to both sponsors and students. By building research and communication skills, Model UN trains students to address problems with critical thinking. While historically Model UN has been found in High School and Universities, Middle School Model UN has increased in frequency. The William & Mary Middle School Model United Nations Conference has broken attendance records with nearly every successive year, and sustaining Middle School Model UN programs is vitally important to continuing this trend.
In this guide, we have compiled a basic overview to many of the aspects of creating, maintaining or growing a Model UN club along with basic delegate preparation for conferences. Ultimately, there are five main parts to sponsoring a Model UN team: recruitment, logistical planning, chaperoning, public speaking coaching and research assistance. Feel free to contact any members of the WMIDMUN Secretariat for further guidance in growing your own Model UN program.
Model United Nations is a simulation experience in which students assume the role of delegates in a deliberative body. Traditionally, this body is the United Nations (and the majority of committees which delegates can be assigned to at Model UN conferences will reflect this), but additionally other special-settings and bodies are used within the context of Model UN. Some examples include the League of Nations, the World Bank, NATO, the US Senate or more informal bodies such as the Congress of Vienna, the Arctic Council or the President’s Cabinet.
In all cases, delegates will be called on to research and speak on topics pertaining to that body’s jurisdiction and oversight. Students have the opportunity to engage in discussion and debate on potential solutions to problems and propose implementation of policies. Additionally, Model UN conferences simulate the aspect of role-playing on top of problem-solving as delegates represent a specific set of interests – such as existing countries, powerful individuals, or even fictitious personas with a backstory.
A Model UN Program can give students exposure to an intense problem-solving setting at the Middle School level. Such a program can have incredible benefits to three particular groups: students, teachers and the school as a whole. Stressing the distinct benefits to all involved may help trigger support by faculty and administration into supporting a Model UN Program.
For students, some benefits include:
Further, sponsors have indicated there are many faculty benefits to beginning a Model UN program, such as:
Finally, schools and school districts benefit from a Model UN program in several ways:
While many Middle School students who travel to Model UN conferences end up incredibly enjoying their time, being able to recruit students to be willing to do so in the first place is important. Several recruitment strategies (aside from direct marketing such as fliers, posters, and word-of-mouth to students) may be conducted either when first starting a MUN team or when attempting to grow one.
Firstly, soliciting referrals from teachers regarding potential students is a good initial strategy to reach would-be MUN team members. Emailing or conversing with other faculty members about a desire to start an MUN club may lead students who have been particularly vocal in class or have demonstrated strong writing or research abilities to be directed towards Model United Nations. Importantly, note that this is to refer individuals to a club and should not be approached or seen as a system in which teachers must nominate students in order to join a club (i.e. avoid terms such as “nominate”, “recommendation,” etc. to prevent the appearance of an exclusive or competitive nature of selection which can deter other students from joining).
Secondly, integrating MUN into the classroom can lead to taster sessions to pique the interest of potential students. Activities may include simulating a debate in class or creating resolutions to address issues (see further in the guide for specific delegate preparatory activities). Potential classes in which MUN may be offered in an introductory setting include Civics and American History.
Finally, reaching directly to parents may also lead to recruitment for a MUN program. One way to do so is to reach out to a member of a school administration such as a Principal to discuss the possibility of emailing or through some other correspondence alerting parents of students about Model United Nations. Particularly when combined with mentioning the potential benefits outlined above, this strategy can serve to involve a greater number of individuals in the MUN program and drive up interest.