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European Security and Migration Forum With UW Students In Rome

March 9, 2016


Rick Lorenz

As part of a two-day role playing forum on border migration security in Europe, students at the UW Center in Rome presented their reportage from visits they made to refugee centers and international organizations dealing with the current humanitarian crisis.

Report from the University of Washington Rome Center

Frederick Michael Lorenz, JD, LLM, a Senior Lecturer at the Jackson School of International Studies and currently program director at UW Rome Center for a 10-week study abroad session, recently wrote about how UW students there are learning first-hand about the unfolding refugee crisis in Europe.

“Current world events are leading Europe to an important crossroad. Massive migrant flows from Africa and the Middle East are quickly overwhelming the established processing system. Russia is taking a more aggressive role, and the risk of confrontation seems to be increasing daily.

Will the European Union be able to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the crisis?  Is the North Atlantic Alliance able to respond effectively to the threat?

On January 4, 2016, 25 students from the UW began a 10-week study abroad program in Rome on “The New European Security.” Sponsored by the Jackson School of International Studies, the program has given students unprecedented access to European officials, local academics and non-governmental organizations.

As part of the program, students made trips to refugee centers and heard speakers from a number of international organizations based in Rome.  They were hosted for a day at the NATO Defense College and exposed to top-level research on the current security challenges facing Europe.

The capstone event of the 10-week program was a two-day simulation called the “European Security Forum” modeled after a similar event held in Munich last month.

UW students were assigned roles to play in major international and non-governmental organizations including: The International Organization for Migration; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; The European Union; NATO Headquarters; the U.S. Ambassador to the EU and Doctors Without Borders.

In addition to the student-led teams, a lawyer from Saint Petersburg, Russia, played the role of a representative of the Russian Federation.

Day One of the Forum concerned Russia, Ukraine and Crimea. Day Two focused on the external and internal borders of the EU and the mechanisms for processing migrants. The moderator was a high level official from an international organization based in Brussels.

During the Forum, as the security situation in Europe changed, teams were required to have constant access to current news to update their presentations.  The teams performed at a very high level and were subject to questions and comments from the other teams and the Russian Federation.  Everyone seemed to benefit from the opportunity to learn about these important topics outside the traditional classroom setting.”