Building the Right MUN Culture: Developing Interest in a Model UN Program

by abrar on March 21, 2014

Building a strong foundation is integral to the security of your success as a MUN team.

Building a strong foundation is integral to the security of your success as a MUN team. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The process of developing or reinventing a Model UN program at a middle school, high school, or university level is one that is tedious and met with a multitude of challenges. One of the inevitable obstacles that a program encounters is the development of a large and stable group of members to participate in the program’s endeavors. Any MUN adviser or head delegate can tell you that the process of building hype about Model UN is one that is often perfected through trial and error. Creating the wrong impression or selling the wrong facets of Model UN can result in a program that is built upon the wrong foundation. But fear not—there a few things to keep in mind that help to establish interest surrounding the world of Model UN and to ensure that your school is properly acquainted with the MUN culture.

1. Make sure your audience knows what Model UN is. This may seem like an arbitrary reminder, but it is imperative that you define the activity of Model UN in a way that your target audience understands and is intrigued by. While you may be tempted to dive right into the explaining of the frills of MUN, it’s important to create a basic groundwork of Model UN for your audience. Your goal is to pique interest, not to overwhelm.

2. Stress the benefits of a Model UN-enriched education. Model UN in its entirety is full of benefits of all shapes and sizes. For those that are intrigued by the notion of competition, explain the dynamic and engaging style of debate that Model UN presents. For those that view MUN as a character-building activity, stress the profitability of Model UN as a platform through which students can learn to speak, write, and think critically. Many young people also become interested in Model UN because it opens them up to a whole swath of social, political, and humanitarian issues that they can investigate and address. Model UN means something different for different people, and that’s OK.

3. Draw in prospective members who may already participate in a wide variety of activities. Model UN is a fairly young activity and fortunately is relatively safe from becoming an activity whose participants seem to conform to a particular archetype. This is by all means beneficial, as Model UN an activity whose core values are rooted in the ideals of diversity and promoting collaboration between all groups of people. In an effort to ensure that your Model UN team upholds those values and allows for an inclusive atmosphere, it is important that you publicize your program throughout multiple activities or social circles. Pulling in the star debater and the quarterback will allow your program to embrace a level of diversity that is important for Model UN on a scholastic and idealistic level.

4. Provide ample opportunities for students to experience Model UN before making a commitment. There are many, engaging ways in which to ensure that students  receive a taste of Model UN before having to completely adopt the responsibilities and commitments required to become an active member. In a given case, maybe it would be beneficial to invite a guest speaker or organize a charity event sponsored by the program. In any case, it’s crucial that students are allowed access to Model UN in a free trial of sorts.

5. It’s crucial that you do not force Model UN onto those who may not feel so strongly about it. A program is only as good as its members are motivated and committed to their learning. If someone is genuinely uninterested, chances are that their contributions to the club will not be extensive. Model UN may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t provide students with a pathway to experience all that Model UN has to offer.

6. Remember your mission. When dealing with an activity as academically trying and competition-oriented as Model UN, it isn’t difficult for a delegate or leader to lose sight of the true meaning of Model UN. While it is importantly to uphold the scholastic rigor that Model UN provides by creating a competitive program with top-notch competitors, it is more important to understand that building a strong MUN culture is meant to give way to something more—a strong culture for global awareness and the willingness to effect change.

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