Top 12 Model UN Conference Scheduling and Market Trends in 2011-12

The Texas team travels to conferences around the world

This is not your typical Top 10 Weekends article. It can’t be – we launched the Best Delegate Model United Nations Conference Database 2011-12 yesterday but many conferences have not announced their dates yet. Instead, this article is for the MUN junkie who wants a bird’s-eye view of scheduling and market trends in the Model UN community.

What are the power-packed weekends? When should teams visit the UN or travel abroad? Which regions are growing – and where is Harvard expanding to next? Read below to find out!

Top 6 Scheduling Trends

1. November 10-13 is shaping up to repeat as the most popular weekend.

SSUNS is one of many conferences on a popular weekend

This was the most popular weekend of the entire season in 2010 with a total of 11 conferences being held. Four large high school conferences – McGill SSUNS, Rutgers RUMUN, Brown BUSUN, and UCLA BruinMUN – as well as the SUSMUN conference in Atlanta are already scheduled to take place this weekend in 2011 (it’s Veterans Day weekend in the United States). Iberian MUN in Portugal is also on this weekend. William & Mary’s WMHSMUN and U. Penn’s UPMUNC college conference chose different weekends this time, but we’ll see if Stanford SMUNC, Penn State PHUNC, and the Northwest MUN college conference decide to battle for market share here.

2. Harvard MUN, Ivy League MUNC, and THIMUN Hague are sharing the same power-packed weekend again in late January.

THIMUN overlaps with HMUN and ILMUNC

Harvard HMUN and U. Penn’s ILMUNC are two of the largest and most competitive high school conferences in the world, and both have shared the same weekend ever since Harvard moved their conference from December to January. However, both conferences seemed to hint that sharing the weekend didn’t hurt attendance last year – Harvard drew 2,900 delegates and ILMUNC saw 2,200 delegates attend. The dates for the THIMUN Hague conference – the largest in the world – overlap both of these conferences as well, making this a power-packed weekend with “championship”-level implications.

3. March 7-10 is your first chance to visit the United Nations Headquarters.

Several conferences are held at the UN

That’s the date of the National High School MUN conference (NHSMUN), which is one of a select few conferences that get to use the United Nations Headquarters facilities in New York for part of its conference. The others are UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms International MUN (GCIMUN), the National MUN conferences (NMUN New York), the Montessori MUN Conference, and the New York Dominican Republic MUN Conference (NYDRMUN).

4. Virginia gets the spotlight on November 17-20.

It'll be W&M vs. UVA

Rivals William & Mary and the University of Virginia are both hosting their high school conferences that weekend. Will both draw enough students to make the state of Virginia the center of the Model UN universe that weekend? Or will it split up their primarily mid-Atlantic market? If it’s the latter, will we see a date change? This story should be interesting as these two programs compete for market share on the same weekend.

5. Winter break is the new spring break for American college students.

Winter break is the new spring break

American universities have traditionally saved their finances to go abroad during the Harvard WorldMUN week which coincides with most spring breaks. But this year, the new HNMUN Latin America conference in Buenos Aires and the month change for the NMUN Europe Conference (which will be held in Lille, France) makes January 2012 an appealing time to go abroad. And of course, American colleges that just want to go across the border to Canada will still have super fun options in McMUN and UBCMUN in January 2012. Also of significant note: there are eight college conferences held in January and none are in the United States.

6. The UPMUNC date change gives upstart college conferences an opportunity to grow.

UPMUNC will be in December this year instead of November

U. Penn’s UPMUNC has traditionally been the largest college conference in the fall and occupied a mid-November weekend, meaning most colleges weren’t willing to schedule their own conferences shortly before or after it in November. But UPMUNC has been moved to the beginning of December this year, and that leaves a huge vacuum on the college schedule in November. The college-hosted “World Division” schedule is prestige heavy in October right now – will upstarts and smaller conferences in November like DISC, SBIMUN, NWMUN or even one of the organization-hosted “National Division” conferences take advantage of this opportunity to grow their conferences?

Top 6 Market Trends

7. The emerging markets will get even more access to the Harvard experience.

Harvard is expanding to India among other places

Harvard is pursuing a very aggressive international expansion plan and it has its eyes on the emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. In addition to already hosting the WorldMUN Conference (to be held in Vancouver this year), hosting the HMUN China in Shanghai, and co-staffing WEMUNC in Beijing, Harvard will add one high school conference – HMUN India in Mumbai – and one college conference – HNMUN Latin America in Buenos Aires – to its portfolio this year. It makes sense – Chinese and Indian delegates have increased their attendance at HMUN, and Latin American (primarily Venezuelan) delegates are very influential at HNMUN. When you add those two conferences to the lineup, Harvard staffers now have a buffet of seven conferences to choose from!

On related notes, Yale is redefining its European conference (held in Prague) to be YMGE – Model Government instead of just Model UN. Georgetown’s Doha campus is hosting MUN-SFS Qatar. THIMUN is hosting conferences in Singapore and Qatar. And it remains to be seen if the other the WEMUN affiliates – U. Chicago, U. Penn, UC Berkeley, Boston University, and TEIMUN – will start their own freestanding conferences in China or elsewhere abroad.

8. Brown brings the Ivy League closer to an all two-conference league.

BUCS is the newest Ivy League conference

Brown University will be hosting its augural Brown University Crisis Simulation (BUCS) college conference this March, which now makes it the 17th program in the world to be able to host both a high school conference and a college conference. Harvard, Yale, and U. Penn have reputably prestigious conferences at both levels, Columbia and Princeton are now fairly well established at both levels, and Cornell recently joined the two-conference club with its CIAC college conference. Dartmouth will be the only Ivy League program with only a high school conference.

9. The European college market is growing rapidly and innovatively.

Bonn and others are leading the European growth

The THIMUN Hague high school conference and its affiliated conferences get all the press in Europe, but the European college conference market is starting to create some buzz of its own. The number of college conferences available in Europe is now roughly equal – if not greater than – the number of conferences available in North America. And we are beginning to see interesting formalized conference circuits and alliances – the EMMUNET alliance has added Finland FINMUN and Bremen BRIMUN to its list that already included Bonn BIMUN, Geneva GIMUN, Milan MILMUN, Salamanca MUNUSAL, TEIMUN, and Zagreb ZAGIMUN. Also, the University of Passau (Germany) and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Pakistan) have successfully established a joint venture in EurasiaMUN which was last held at Passau in 2011. With many conferences to participate in now, it’ll be interesting to see if Europe will continue producing more global powerhouse teams like the United Netherlands and MUN Society Belgium.

10. Asia didn’t dominate the rotating cities this year.

Vancouver broke a 2-year Asia-based WorldMUN streak

There are three college conferences that have rotated cities in the past: WorldMUN, Global MUN, and NMUN’s abroad conference. WorldMUN was held in Singapore and Taipei in the last two years, but will be held in Vancouver, Canada, this year. Global MUN has been held in Incheon, Korea, and in Kuala Lumpur in the last two years but it’s too early to determine the 2012 location. NMUN’s abroad conference was once held in Xi’an, China, but the conference moved to Prague for the past few years and is now institutionalized as NMUN Europe with this year’s site being in Lille, France.

11. San Francisco is the growing market in the California MUN hotbed.

Conferences want to expand to San Francisco in MUN-rich California

California has the most conferences of any state – 27 high school conferences, 7 college conferences, and 1 middle school conference – and hosting a conference in San Francisco is the latest trend. The Regional High School MUN Conference (RHSMUN) had been held in Salt Lake City since its inception but is moving to San Francisco this year. Rumors have it that another college conference is considering hosting in San Francisco as well to fill the void created by the defunct PAXMUN conferences.

12. North Carolina – and the rest of the American South– is leading the middle school market.

Montessori MUN in action

New York gets all the attention because the two largest middle school conferences – UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms Middle School conference and the Montessori MUN conference – are held there, but the state of North Carolina is actually leading the way in this market with five middle school conferences. Other Southern states have joined in too – Tennessee has two middle school conferences and Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, and Texas have one apiece. That gives the South 11 conferences or around 50% of the middle school market. There aren’t any large high school or college conferences in the South (besides in Virginia) at the moment, so it’ll be interesting to see how this middle school movement trickles up toward the high school and college levels in the future.


Key Dates

We try not to be biased in promoting which conferences to attend but we do realize that most established teams aim to travel to at least one major, “prestigious” conference every year. In order to serve that information need, we decided to highlight a select list of large conferences that have mostly released their conference dates. (Note: this is not a list of the most prestigious conferences but rather a select list of some of the largest).

The dates for the college-hosted and organization-hosted high school conferences in North America that have historically drawn 1,500+ delegates:

  • Berkeley BMUN (March 9-11, 2012)
  • Georgetown NAIMUN (February 16-19, 2012)
  • Harvard HMUN (January 26-29, 2012)
  • Nationals NHSMUN (March 7-10, 2012)
  • U. Chicago MUNUC (February 2-5, 2012)
  • U. Penn ILMUNC (January 26-29, 2012)
  • UNA-USA GCIMUN (May 2012 – TBA)

The dates for other college-hosted high school conferences with 800-1,500 delegates in North America are:

  • Boston University BosMUN (February 2012 – TBA)
  • Brown BUSUN (November 11-13, 2011)
  • George Washington WAMUNC (March 2012 – TBA)
  • Johns Hopkins JHUMUNC (February 9-12, 2012)
  • McGill SSUNS (November 10-13, 2011)
  • Oregon MUN (April 12-14, 2012)
  • Princeton PMUNC (December 1-4, 2011)
  • Rutgers RUMUN (November 10-13, 2011)
  • UC Irvine UCIMUN (May 2012)
  • UCLA BruinMUN (November 12-13, 2011)
  • William & Mary WMHSMUN (November 18-20, 2011)
  • Yale YMUN (January 19-22, 2012)

It is also worth noting the date for the largest high school conference in the world has been announced:

  • THIMUN Hague (January 22-27, 2012)

Dates for three of the largest college conferences (2000+ delegates) have been announced as well:

  • Harvard National HNMUN (February 16-29, 2012)
  • Harvard WorldMUN – Vancouver (March 12-16, 2012)
  • NMUN New York (April 1-5, 2012 for Sheraton; April 3-7, 2012 for Marriott)


What are your initial reactions to next year’s conference calendar? Which conferences do you plan to attend?

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