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Laurier students attend top U.S. foreign policy conference
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Eric Lingen, a student in Laurier’s Masters of International Public Policy (MIPP) program, recently spent four days discussing policy solutions to high-seas piracy, human smuggling and the drug trade as part of a policy conference hosted by the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The prestigious Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA), held annually at West Point in New York state, brings together students, academics and government leaders from around the world to discuss current U.S. foreign policy issues. Students work in groups to develop policy recommendations that are made available to the U.S. Congress.
Lingen, who participated in the panel discussion on transnational crime, said the conference gave him greater insight into how policy is made – an experience he has shared with fellow MIPP students.
“A lot of what we are studying in the MIPP program is how to make policy, how does policy get determined, how to evaluate policy. So any experience [the other MIPP students] can hear about when it comes to actually deciding policy questions can be useful,” said Lingen.
The MIPP program is an intensive one-year, interdisciplinary master’s program that provides graduate training for individuals looking to pursue or enhance careers in international or global policy development, implementation and evaluation. Laurier offers the MIPP program through the Balsillie School of International Affairs.
Lingen was joined at the conference by fourth-year political science student Jessica D’Croix, who participated in discussions on U.S. relations with Africa. The experience inspired D’Croix to pursue research into how Canadian and U.S. identities have developed through history and how that affects foreign policy today.
“I didn’t expect there to be such a stark contrast between U.S. and Canada foreign policy views,” said D’Croix.
During the four-day conference, high-level academic and government advisors served as experts for the 16 different panels – covering topics such as the Afghan War, the Middle East, U.S. relations with China, and nuclear proliferation.
"It certainly codified my interest in dealing with the big questions of governance in my professional career," said Lingen. "Especially after meeting face to face the individuals who are indeed walking down the hallowed corridors of governance."
D’Croix and Lingen are both grateful to Laurier professor Alistair Edgar, director of the Academic Council on the United Nations System. Edgar recommended them for the conference, which only accepts approximately 150 students worldwide. Leanne Holland Brown, dean of students for Laurier’s Waterloo campus, and the MIPP program also helped support their attendance.