The Duke International Security Conference, or DISCon, is a collegiate international relations conference designed to explore how competing strategic interests of existing and emerging powers create conflict, and how policy can be constructed to mitigate these tensions.
Each November, delegates from colleges around the nation are asked to assume roles on the executive cabinets of various policymaking bodies. Our staff prepares a series of international crisis scenarios based on patterns of events leading up to the conference. Over the course of three days, our delegates are presented with these crisis scenarios and are asked to respond in kind. In this way, we hope to examine how leaders of today might respond to crises in the future.
While some might call us a “Model UN” conference, we bear almost no resemblance to such. DISCon differs from traditional Model UN in several important ways. We ask our delegates to solve crises that span a wide variety of topics, which necessitates debate about economics, security, trade, development, diplomacy, and more – this is in stark contrast to the single-issue debate that characterizes traditional Model UN. We do not follow parliamentary procedure, and instead rely on ad-hoc, unmoderated, and pleasantly chaotic debate to drive committee. And instead of large General Assembly committees with hundreds of delegates, our committees are much smaller and foster more intimate participation in debate.
We pride ourselves as being unique from other collegiate international relations conferences in the following ways:
- Strategy is our primary focus, not small tactical details that often bog down debate. At DISCon, we ask our delegates to debate at a high, broad level instead of being slowed by unimportant details. In this way, delegates get a chance to consider the broader implications of the crises they face.
- Technology is integrated seamlessly into committee. We use a central, electronic system to quickly disseminate information to committees and solicit responses. This and other innovations make DISCon a highly efficient system in which to debate among multiple committees.
- Passion pervades our entire staff. Our members are carefully selected and trained to be valuable resources for our delegates before and during the conference. Dais members often have significant academic expertise in their committee and so are uniquely qualified to drive debate.
- Themed debate ensures that the topics our delegates debate are highly relevant to current events. Our crises involve every single committee in a single large simulation, so delegates are pushed to more deeply consider the multidimensionality and depth of the topics they discuss.
If you have any questions about DISCon 2013, feel free to contact one of the secretariat members.
DISCon is a branch of the Duke International Relations Association (DIRA). For more information about DIRA, see the organization’s main page.
If you are a Duke student and would like to get involved with DISCon 2013, see our application.