Earlier this summer, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Professor Callum Ingram and several University of Nevada, Reno students attended the German Marshall Fund’s (GMF) annual forum in Brussels. The forum helped students to become confident in their leadership skills by providing them with the opportunity to directly discuss policy changes and issues across the United States and Europe.
The in-person participants included Ingram, undergraduate student Justice Forest, political science Ph.D. candidate Keely Eshenbaugh and recent honors baccalaureate graduate Valentina Ossio-Marin. Ten other students attended online. The University was one of two American universities at the conference.
“I was expecting the summit to be a great chance for the folks participating from UNR to see how powerful and ‘in the know’ people understand some of the world’s biggest questions,” Ingram said. “It’s one thing to talk about transatlantic cooperation or global crises in a seminar room, but the conversation can be very different among people with power.”
The theme of this year’s forum was “Winning the Strategic Future – In the Spirit of the Marshall Plan.” The forum celebrated the Marshall Plan’s 75th anniversary. The Marshall Plan was an innovative strategy to help solve the pressing issues and war-based devastation in the late 1940s.
“The main focus that was carried out throughout the entirety of the conference was building and maintaining cooperation across the Atlantic in order to solve global policy issues. The GMF organization is devoted to the core principle that we, as an international community, are stronger together,” Forest said.
While the forum allowed students to directly see policymaking at certain levels, its main purpose was to give global leaders the necessary platforms to bring attention to various global challenges for debate and deliberation.
“By having the opportunity to hear from different world leaders about what issues are paramount to them, it became fundamentally clear to me that in order to address key policy issues, we need to solve other related issues together,” Forest said. “Those experiences of personal discussions truly serve to provide a deeper understanding, and I think the experience has helped me to grow as a student of political science.”
Both Forest and Eshenbaugh agreed that attending the forum furthered their interest in political science and provided them with the opportunity to see policy conversations happen in real time.
“For me, the Brussels Forum was a demonstration that these collaborative processes should be interactive and in constant feedback. If actors are able to effectively communicate across different industries and jargon, there is a lot of promise and hope for solving future crises,” Eshenbaugh said. “The Brussels Forum reminded me that my path toward academia in political science is not only for theoretic progression but also to advocate for democratic promise.”
This year’s trip has expanded the opportunities for future University participants in the annual forum as well.
“I am really glad that President Sandoval has opened this door, and I look forward to more of our students participating in this program in the years to come,” Ingram said. “The experience is unique and invaluable for students looking to take their next steps and bring their education at UNR to bear on the world’s biggest questions.”
The in-person trip was funded by the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation and the Department of Political Science.