Students shine at International Model NATO conference

The Northeastern delegations for Germany and Croatia took first and third place, respectively, and students won several individual awards at the 30th annual International Model NATO conference earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

The conference, which took place Feb. 12-15, included students from universities throughout the United States as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. At the conference, each student team represented a pre-assigned member state of NATO or the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The proceedings mirrored those of the 65-year-old intergovernmental military alliance, with students sitting on committees and discussing, debating, and writing resolutions on today’s most pressing global issues.

Twenty-seven Northeastern undergraduates participated, including political science major Stephanie Leahy, SSH’16. She chaired the Committee on Emerging Securities—one of six committees on which each country delegation is represented—and her strong leadership in guiding debate and ensuring proper procedure was followed earned her the Outstanding Chair Award at the conference.

“Coming away from the conference, it was really interesting to see how each delegation represents its country on certain issues,” Leahy said. “You learn a lot about how countries view these issues and might interact with each other in real NATO debates.”

Indeed, these conferences provide students with a robust experiential learning opportunity, noted Philip D’Agati, the Model NATO team’s adviser and an assistant academic specialist in the Department of Political Science. Not only do students dive deep into matters of international policy and diplomacy, but they also gain important leadership experience and public-speaking skills, he said.

“I’m really proud of our students,” D’Agati said. “The best part about the weekend is that every student contributed to the overall success.”

Students on Northeastern’s International Model NATO team are members of the International Relations Council, a student organization that is interested in foreign policy, international affairs, and learning the skills of effective diplomacy and debate. The Northeastern IRC also fields delegations that participate in Model Arab League and Model United Nations.

This marks the fourth consecutive year in which a delegation led by Northeastern students placed first at the International Model NATO conference. Last year, the student delegation representing Netherlands took first place.

D’Agati and his students attribute their success to their enormous amount of preparation, boosting their knowledge of their country’s politics and policy, practicing debate, and studying NATO rules and procedures for months in advance of the competition.

“Having familiarity with the rules and procedures makes you so much more confident when you get to the conference, so you can really focus on the policy,” Leahy said.