By: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
On March 29, SFU achieved a first for Canadian civilian universities when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NATO Defense College (NDC), giving the former access to NDC facilities and resources formally. According to chair of SFU political science department Alexander Moens, “The combination of comprehensive coursework and immersive learning is a first for both SFU and the NATO Defense College.”
The MOU was signed by SFU president Andrew Petter and lieutenant-general Chris Whitecross, commandant of the NATO Defense College. The MOU is supposed to facilitate the work of the 2018 SFU NATO Field School and Simulation Program by helping both institutions coordinate scheduling, resources, mentorship, and site visits.
On May 8, the 2018 NATO Field School officially opened at SFU Burnaby Campus. Whitecross focused on the advantages of the MOU in her Commandant’s Address to the students during the opening ceremony.
“The NATO Defense College has put one of NATO’s core tasks – cooperative security – into practice by adapting our organization and providing a forum where future NATO leaders – such as yourselves – can analyze and discuss the implications of global events that affect defence and security,” said Whitecross. “I encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunity the NATO Field School and Simulation Program offers, and I am pleased that you will be participating in our Negotiation, Mediation and Decision-Making exercise during your visit to Rome this summer.”
The field school is an upper-level program opened to both graduate and undergraduate students in Canada. The program helps attendees learn directly from military officers and top-level NATO mentors. Program highlights include a four-day simulation helping students experience the NATO decision-making process, at the NDC in Rome, Italy. The simulation will imitate the procedure used by NATO nations to seek political consensus, when responding to a United Nations request for assistance in a humanitarian crisis.
The MOU between the two institutions have led to the inclusion of tours to the Western Canada military bases in the 2018 NATO Field School program. Other inclusions to the program are visits to the Canadian troops on NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence and the Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga, Latvia, and the NATO Headquarters in Belgium.
The MOU is stated to help the field school students learn the ropes of communication between political leaders and military officers. The program includes training students how diplomats and militaries negotiate on policies and implement them, as well as how objectives are formed and communicated, as a press communique.
“This innovative program will provide students across Canada with the opportunity to receive a world-class, interdisciplinary educational experience with lifelong value.” – Alexander Moens, chair of SFU political science department
The program, once completed, is stated to provide chances for students to apply for entrance level jobs and internships in government services and related fields like diplomacy, military, international peace and security, and international organizations.