SFU NATO club makes groundbreaking partnership

Jazlyn Melnychuk and Cornel Turdeanu talk to The Peak about new field school in Rome and Brussels


Last year, The Peak reported on SFU’s first Global Model NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Association) Summit. Since then, SFU students Jazlyn Melnychuk, and Cornel Turdeanu, vice-president and president of SFU’s Model NATO club, with the help of Dr. Alex Moens (a SFU political science professor), have created a field school and partnership with the NATO Defense College.

NATO was created in 1949 at the beginning of the Cold War. Canada is one of the 12 founding members of the political and military alliance designed to protect and secure these countries through military and political means. Melnychuk sums up the current work of the association, stating, “Article five of their treaty states that ‘an attack on one nation is an attack on all.’ Since 2010, they have had core tasks like co-operative security, working with non-member states [by] helping them increase their capabilities, and in Afghanistan, through crisis management.”

The model NATO SFU club works to simulate some of these tasks, where Turdeanu explains, “So, we have 28 different people, each gets a different country . . . so you have to represent your country very faithfully, looking up their position on different subjects like cyber security.”

The club has received many awards for their simulations, most recently in Washington, DC for the 32nd annual international model NATO conference. At the conference, Melnychuk and Turdeanu expressed the challenging nature of this prestigious conference, “We knew it would be high level, and it was. There were schools there, including the Royal Military College of Canada and the US Air Force Academy, so these guys really knew their strategy and international relations.” However, 12 members of the society brought home the Superior Delegation Award, along with three other individual awards.

31 SFU students will be heading to Rome and Brussels for the new field school this May and June, learning from diplomats and experts in NATO defense and security studies. “They must think we are the Harvard of Canada or something,” recalls Turdeanu, as he explains the unprecedented partnership with SFU.

The partnership with the NATO Defense College is the first of its kind in which students will be a part of a four-day model NATO simulation. Melnychuk explains the significance of the partnership, adding, “[the NATO Defense College] are the ones that actually teach people who go on to become diplomats in NATO and they run crisis simulations for people who are actually working in NATO. So, we are getting the real experience.”

“I think it’s going to be a historic moment for us as a school and I think it’s going to open the door for a lot more collaboration between SFU and NATO,” states Turdeanu, adding that both himself and Melnychuk have had great opportunities to meet with influential diplomats and generals so far.

Melnychuk adds that she hopes the field school will “set the precedent for actually expanding to other students and other Canadian universities in the future, to engage more students in NATO.”

The club continues their work by meeting once a month and practicing their simulations. More information can be found on their website.