Students from top universities in the U.S. and around the world are gathering in Washington this weekend for the 2012 International Model NATO Conference. The goal of the conference is to engage young minds in debate, increase awareness about the role of NATO and the issues it faces, and provide a forum to collaborate and network.
In my capacity here at ASP, and as a Model NATO alum, I will be assisting with the conference’s social media, specifically Facebook. Using the conference’s social media, students have the opportunity to engage and collaborate prior to the start of the event, share materials and information during the conference, and then network afterward.
The conference will get underway after the opening assembly as delegates breakout into mock committees, which are based on NATO’s real policy bodies; the North Atlantic Council, Political Affairs Committee, Defense Planning Committee, Nuclear Planning Group, and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Each university is assigned a country or two, depending on the number of delegates they bring, and countries assign a few delegates to each committee. As students debate, they will be representing their assigned country’s policies. It should make for a realistic simulation.
Topics this year include Afghanistan, relations with Russia, NATO expansion (an oldie, but goodie), energy and environmental issues, nuclear proliferation, missile defense, Kosovo, and many others. Delegates will have to debate in committee about which topics to discuss first based on what is most important to their country.
Students take away a great deal of knowledge and perspective from this experience, especially those in leadership roles, such as head delegates and moderators. Additionally, conference goers will have the added benefit of meeting this year’s keynote speaker Antonella Cerasino, Head of NATO Public Diplomacy Division, Countries Section.
The Model NATO Conference will be hosted by Howard University from February 16-19. Participating schools include Howard University, Converse College, Kent State University, Miles College, University of Bologna, Université libre de Bruxelles, University of Texas at Arlington, Slippery Rock University, Tiffin University, University of British Columbia, York University, Lakeland Community College, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Northeastern University (my Alma Mater; go Huskies!), Royal Military College of Canada, Gardner-Webb University, Cleveland State University, The Citadel, Université Laval, Mercyhurst University, and the University of Birmingham (UK).