*This article is a guest post submitted by Cory Bisbee, ClarkMUN VII Secretary-General.
On November 19, the seventh annual Clark Model United Nations brought a few hundred high school students from around the Northeast to Clark University. ClarkMUN VII is held each fall on the University’s historic campus in Worcester, Massachusetts—the heart of the Commonwealth and centrally located in New England.
Secretary-General Cory Bisbee, a political science major in his second year, opened the conference by speaking briefly about the election of Donald Trump within the context of a broader “backlash against globalization” also being meted out by electorates in such places as the United Kingdom and France. He was followed by keynote speaker Sarah Richard ‘11, a Clark alumna who had served as the secretary-general of Clark’s conference seven years ago and who spoke about her 12-year Model UN career, her work for former U.S. Senator Scott Brown, and her time at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based foreign policy think tank.
This year ClarkMUN featured six committees for the first time. Delegates represented a range of countries in two committees of the UN General Assembly as well as in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. They also represented a range of perspectives and people in the Asante Kingdom crisis committee set in 1900 and in the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Venice crisis committees set in 1463 as part of the First Ottoman-Venetian War joint crisis. One delegate commented that his crisis committee was “unique [as crisis committees go] for not erupting into chaos like at other conferences” and another praised her GA committee for being “professional but not overly serious.”
Cory, the secretary-general, remarked that “I really do believe our staff is one of the key things that sets us apart.” Clark’s Model UN
team is among the top four in New England and one of the continent’s most widely traveled, attending eight to ten conferences throughout North America each year and hosting on-campus conferences for high school students in the fall and for middle school students in the spring. Their fall conference gives delegates a chance to both learn from the best and get a taste of how Clark University offers nearly unlimited opportunities while still being a close-knit community of 2,300 undergraduates. As the secretary-general put it, “Not unlike the average Clarkie, our chairs and vice chairs are experienced, serious, and demanding but also helpful, lighthearted, and fun. They introduce new delegates to MUN and prepare experienced ones to do well at other conferences in the rest of the year.”
Shortly after noon the delegates took a break to eat in the cafeteria in the Higgins University Center. Director-General Josh Merchat noted how “Since delegates are already paying for the conference, instead of sending them off to eat fast food or spend money on something else, we figure the least we can do is cover their lunch and give them the chance to experience a little bit of college life at the same time.” Delegates and advisors alike seemed to appreciate this move (and the food!) on the conference’s part.
At the closing ceremony, the secretary-general thanked the staff and participants for their hard work. He also spoke about how ClarkMUN continues to grow yet is working to maintain its reputation as a quality conference not held purely for profit. As part of this, Cory announced the first crisis committee for next year’s conference—Boris Yeltsin’s Russian Council of Ministers—and he also pledged that background guides would go out “sooner than ever before.” Planning for ClarkMUN VIII had seriously gotten underway in September, 14 months in advance of next fall’s conference.
Delegate awards were announced shortly thereafter and certificates and gavels were given out. The new Secretary-General’s Book Prize for best position paper, a copy of Is the American Century Over? by Joseph S. Nye, Jr., was also presented. ClarkMU
N does not require position papers and does not take them into consideration when deciding delegate awards but this year the conference offered a separate book prize to recognize the one delegate who put the effort into writing the best position paper at the conference.
ClarkMUN VII ran better than ever thanks to the preparation done by the Secretariat and staff, particularly Secretary-General Cory Bisbee, Director-General Josh Merchat, and Under-Secretary-General Matthew Gerstein. Delegates themselves, of course, demonstrated an excellent grasp of international relations and interpersonal skills and the conference was enjoyed by all.
ClarkMUN VIII will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2017 and more information can be found at www.clarkmun.org.