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Nationalism Boiling Over in Cyprus: Students to Forge Solution to EU Crisis

MAAIS Students forge solution to EU crisis

April 5, 2017

University of Washington students, in partnership with the U.S. Army War College, will attempt to forge a solution to Cyprus, a long-term nationalist conflict, during a summer crisis negotiation simulation. The International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise, dubbed ISCNE for short, has high diplomatic stakes. It promises students four UW credits, excellent hands-on learning and networking opportunities, and the opportunity to earn a UW Jackson School certificate in international negotiation and crisis management at its end.

A glittering jewel of the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus lies at the crossroads of European and Middle Eastern civilizations, a location that forged its rich history and complex politics. Yet since the 1960s, this island nation has been torn into antagonistic Greek and Turkish communities. The Cypriot conflict, with its complex mix of territorial, nationalist, economic, and security drivers, is an important case study in international conflict resolution and a conflict that is ripe for resolution.  

“ISCNE simulates a complex multi-party negotiation,” says Jennifer Butte-Dahl, director of the UW Master of Arts in Applied International Studies (MAAIS) program and host of the negotiation simulation. “It’s the kind of real-life negotiating that happens behind closed doors at UN or NATO meetings, and it allows students to refine their crisis decision-making, leadership, and negotiating skills in an intense, challenging environment.”

The four-week course includes class sessions on the origins of the Cyprus conflict and the role of regional actors, such as Turkey, Greece, the UK, and the EU. Students also participate in skills workshops on crisis decision-making, leadership, teamwork, and negotiating, all culminating in an intense two-day crisis negotiation simulation. Throughout the experience, students of international studies, law, business, public policy, and many more disciplines from across the UW campus and other universities around town, will tackle tough global questions: What happens when NATO allies come into conflict? Can diplomacy subdue the nationalist passions that have torn a country apart? Is the EU capable of solving divisive territorial issues?

“At this moment in history, nationalist passions are bubbling up in locations around the globe. Cyprus is only one example. International affairs leaders must be prepared to engage on these issues, negotiate thoughtfully, and find new solutions,” Butte-Dahl says. “This is the same training the U.S. Army War College uses to prepare international security practitioners at all levels of government. Our students are getting to the heart of these issues early.”

Even as ISCNE prepares future diplomats, military leaders, and foreign affairs experts to work on international political and security issues, the program also offers students significant face-time with high-level diplomats and military and business leaders.

During the summer 2017 exercise, student teams will be mentored by top career diplomats including Thomas Pickering—former U.S. ambassador to the UN, Russia, and India, among other appointments—and John Koenig, a Washington native who recently served as ambassador to Cyprus. Joining Pickering and Koenig are senior representatives from Joint Base Lewis McChord and strategy and technology firm Booz Allen Hamilton as well as academic experts. With these mentors as their guides, students will hone their critical thinking, cultural awareness, and negotiation skills.

“This exercise is a vehicle to develop strategic leaders,” says former Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic Leadership Sam White, who oversaw the 2016 Jackson School exercise.  Successful completion of the course give students the opportunity to earn a UW Jackson School certificate in international negotiation and crisis management.

Summer 2017 marks the third year of ISCNE at UW and of the first negotiation exercise ever conducted by the Army War College on the American west coast. As recent events have shown, it is clear actors across the U.S. Pacific region will continue to grow as integral players in international policy debates.

“When looking at the West Coast to conduct this program, the Jackson School jumped out at us,” White says. “We look at programs that have good reputations and that share the Army War College vision of producing leaders for service in national security. The Jackson School was our pivot to the Pacific Northwest.”

ISCNE is hosted by the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies Master of Arts in Applied International Studies program and the U.S. Army War College. Graduate, undergraduate, and non-matriculated students interested in registering for the ISCNE experience should visit the MAAIS program website.

For more information about ISCNE or MAAIS, contact Communications Coordinator Kate Griffith at or 304.216.4474.