On 29 January, four Politics and International Relations students took part in the UK-wide Model NATO conference, a virtual simulation event to allow participating students to gain insights into the world of diplomacy and international negotiations.

Screenshot from Model NATO virtual simulation

For the second year in a row, students from the University of Westminster have taken part in the UK-wide Model NATO conference, which brings together fifteen universities, where each university represents two NATO member states.

The conference was organised by the British International Studies Association (BISA) in collaboration with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division. The event provides a way of increasing public awareness of NATO, and gives students insights into the challenges of negotiation and decision-making in a large international organisation. 

During the day-long event, the students were asked to simulate a crisis meeting where they, as Foreign Ministers, had to react to a crisis scenario stemming from the sudden movement of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, which led to earthquakes, tsunamis and landfall in areas from Turkey to the west coast of the US and Canada. The students had to reach an agreement on where and how to mobilise NATO’s political and military resources. 

This year, Katarzyna Ozga from the International Relations and Development BA Honours course and Adam Khair from the Politics and International Relations BA Honours course represented Albania, while Vanessa Rayner from the International Relations and Development course and Matthew Moody from the Politics BA Honours course represented Canada.

Talking about the event, Dr Magdalena Frennhoff Larsén, Assistant Head of School at the School of Social Sciences, said: “Model NATO is a perfect way for students to develop their diplomatic, negotiating and drafting skills. The model challenged them to think strategically, to compromise, and to see issues from the perspective of others – all key skills for any future diplomat. While it was an intense day, which required full focus throughout, all students seemed to enjoy it, and our Westminster students performed brilliantly!”

Katarzyna Ozga, one of the students who took part in the Model NATO simulation, added: “Although it was a long day with nine hours of proceedings, I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot about NATO and international matters. It was a great event and I am happy I could be a part of it.”

After the event, Vanessa Rayner shared her thoughts on the highlights and challenges of the day in an interview with BISA Chair Professor Mark Webber.

Find out more about Politics and International Relations courses at the University of Westminster.

Screenshot from virtual Model NATO simulation

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