A Union Development Zone Conference for the 21st Century

Tuesday 27-09-2016 - 16:32

As the process of developing a democracy for the 21st century progresses at NUS, we’re coming ever closer to a vision which allows all members to take part in dynamic and accessible democratic, policy-making and accountability processes. With Zones Conference coming up in October, we want to experiment with some new technology, thinking and processes, so we’ll be doing things a little differently at UD Zone Conference.

A new digital dimension to debate

Firstly, we’ll be making use of a digital platform called Represent. Represent will enable everyone in the room to answer either yes, no, don’t know or multiple choice questions. The answers to these questions will steer the debate, identify areas of consensus and conflict. Represent has a liquid democracy function that allows users to give other members of a group their vote if they are unsure. It will be fascinating to see how the debates shifts the opinion in the room and guides the conference to the best conclusion.  

Digitised elections

It has always been the case that people who are not attending a Zone Conference can stand in elections, with the opportunity to ask another delegate to deliver a speech for them on the day if they wish so that voters at the event get to hear from them.

This year, to try bringing this process up to date, we’re trialling an online election for UD Zone which allows students from anywhere in the country to stand for a committee position and submit a speech to camera. We’ll share your speech online and make it available to voters at the conference, so they get to hear from you directly before they cast their vote. All candidates for UD Zone committee will do the same, so everyone has the same opportunity.

What happens next?

While we’ll only be trialling these new approaches at UD Zone, other zone conferences will run as normal. Your experience of partaking in this event will help to inform our democratic governance review and feed into what our new democracy might look like in the future. So please get stuck in, take part and keep telling us what you think!


If you have any questions about this please get in touch with

Zone Conferences 2016 take place in Stratford Upon Avon between Tuesday 25 and Thursday 27 October. Further information is on the Conference Hub.

Tuesday 25 - Wednesday 26 October: Further Education Zone and Higher Education Zone Conferences


Wednesday 26 - Thursday 27 October: Society & Citizenship Zone, Union Development Zone and Welfare Zone Conferences



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