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Malmö University the only Scandinavian institute at Model NATO Conference


Students from the International Relations bachelor’s programme were the only Scandinavian team to be selected for the four-day conference simulating a NATO summit.

Role playing as representatives of NATO member states, students took part in a real-life simulation, engaging in diplomacy, negotiations and crisis response. The conference is in its thirty-third year and brings together approximately 30 universities and 200 students.

Luka Roné, a second semester International Relations student at the Department of Global Political Studies, took part. She is also the head of Malmö University’s newly-formed student association, European Students to Model NATO.

“The association’s main aim is to facilitate the participation of European students at the Model NATO conference. NATO is the world’s biggest defence alliance so we think it’s important that European students take an interest in its activities. We do fundraising as well as training for the conference itself. People are extremely well prepared at the conference, so planning is key.”

Just like the real thing

Each university at the conference represents a different member state. Along with her fellow students, Roné represented Croatia. Before the conference starts, all groups are briefed at the respective countries’ embassies in Washington D. C.

“This is where you get a current update of the country’s strategy,” Roné explains. “In our case, since we were representing Croatia, our alliance with the U.S. and the U.K. was vital in terms of supporting their agenda. From an economic perspective, Croatia is also looking to attract tourism, so it was important that we did not generate any sort of conflict.”

“My overall experience of the conference was amazing. It’s incredibly well-organised and super effective as a simulation. The fact that it’s held at a major hotel just five minutes away from the White House makes it feel very realistic.

“You also get to deal with very current issues which gave me a sense of the huge responsibility and power that NATO has. You literally sit there and discuss whether to impose a no-fly zone over Syria or not. It makes you realise how influential international governmental organisations are in politics.”

Empowerment through knowledge

Scott McIver, Lecturer in International Relations and Politics, supported the students as their Faculty Advisor. He says: “It was exciting to be one of the few European universities and the only Scandinavian university represented at the conference. The participation of Malmö University students is extremely beneficial for their education and, of course, it is very positive in providing a realistic idea of potential job opportunities.”

Roné agrees that the conference was a valuable experience and an inspiration for her future career path. Her goal is to work for government to influence the world in a more sustainable direction.

“Learning about organisations like NATO in a classroom can sometimes make them seem intimidating in all their vast power and size. When you participate in a conference like this, the things you learn in class become applicable and start to make sense. You feel empowered knowing that you could take on the challenge of engaging in this kind of communication.”

Next year, a larger delegation from the University will participate at the conference. Malmö University has already requested and been allocated representation of Norway for 2019.

“We are developing a long-term relationship with the conference as one of the ways in which we integrate educational collaboration into the International Relations programme,” says McIver.

“It is fantastic that our students will have the chance to role play as our Scandinavian neighbours next year, particularly given that potential NATO membership is a very active foreign policy debate in Sweden.”

Text: Maya Acharya

Last updated by Maya Acharya