This recap was provided by Avik Chakravarty, Best Delegate Program Manager.
Berkeley Model United Nations (BMUN) held its sixty-third annual high school conference last weekend, from February 27 – March 1, 2015. BMUN stands as a flagship among Model United Nations conferences, and is the largest and most international conference on the West Coast. Established in 1952, it is in fact the oldest consecutively-run MUN conference there is. The BMUN secretariat doesn’t take this legacy lightly, and the commitment and professionalism of the staff was evident throughout the event.
BMUN was attended by over 1400 delegates this year, from over 80 different high schools. International delegations came from countries including Canada, People’s Republic of China, Columbia, Croatia, Romania, and Moldova. BMUN is held entirely on the University of California, Berkeley campus, and it ranks as one of the largest campus MUN conferences.
BMUN is a highly professional conference, and exhibits some best practices in conference running. One new and effective innovation was the provision of a live question-and-answer texting service for all delegates. At anytime during the conference, a delegate could text the service number, and a member of the BMUN secretariat would respond to their issue.
For many west coast MUNers, BMUN is the largest and most competitive conference on their schedule. The BMUN secretariat maintains a high level of competition in its advanced committees. This year, BMUN featured some exciting crisis committees including the Atlantic City Council, Genghis Khan’s Military Cabinet, and Interpol.
BMUN not only challenges advanced delegates to improve, but it is also very accessible for new schools and novice delegates. In fact, BMUN makes education a priority, and executes this in a variety of ways.
One existing practice at BMUN begins before delegates even enter committee. Prior to the conference, each committee runs a blog in which delegates and chairs can post articles, discuss research, and begin debating the topics of committee. These blogs enable delegates to begin interacting with each other and their chairs before the conference, so that delegates can hit the ground running when they arrive in committee.
This year, BMUN introduced a brand new approach to the MUN Position Paper. Kevin Kai, BMUN’s Under-Secretary-General of Research, decided to reorient the priorities of the research process. The first two sections, Topic Background and Past International Action, were eliminated because writing these sections sometimes involves repeating a lot of information that is already available in the Background Guide for the committee.
To enhance the educational potential of the position paper, BMUN replaced the initial sections with a new section, in which delegates were required to respond to questions and prompts created by the committee chairs. In this way, BMUN tried to maximize the amount of critical thinking required for the position paper, and to minimize the amount of rote repetition that often occurs.
BMUN was an incredibly professional and enjoyable experience. It maintained the high standard that advisers and delegates have come to expect of it, and still managed to take innovative steps forward to improve the conference as a whole. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the conference, and I am excited to see how BMUN continues to improve in its already lofty place within the MUN community.
Congratulations to all delegates for competing, and to the following schools for winning delegation awards:
Best School: Mira Costa High School, Huntington Beach High School, Cerritos High School
Best Club: Upper Canada College, University High School, California High School