Eighteen graduate students from the Bush School, led by Dr. Joseph Cerami and Janeen Wood, travelled to Rome, Italy, to take part in a study abroad course, Geopolitics of Mediterranean Security. The three-week course included seminars with prominent regional scholars and leaders and visits to various international organizations, including the US Embassy in Rome; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization; and the NATO Defense College, where students participated in seminars by senior military and civilian researchers and faculty.
“During this course, we had the opportunity to partner with Marconi University in Rome, which has excellent connections with scholars, practitioners, former ministers of defense, ministers of foreign affairs, and former ambassadors,” said Cerami. “What we wanted to give the students was an opportunity to hear Italian perspectives on European, US, and Middle East/North African international relations. The idea was to provide something unique: a program that would bring together different academic disciplines focusing on the geopolitics of the Mediterranean.”
Each week day consisted of three seminars featuring speakers from a variety of backgrounds, who discussed issues such as the current immigration crisis; terrorism and foreign fighters; the wars in Libya, Iraq, and Syria; Israel and Palestine; and relations with Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Other seminars addressed European history, demographics, energy security, NATO, and the European Union. Among the lecturers, were Professor Carlo Jean, a retired Italian general and former military advisor to the president of the Italian Republic; Dr. Lapo Pistelli, former Italian vice minister of foreign affairs; Ambassador Maurizio Melani, former Italian ambassador to Iraq; and Ambassador Minuto Rizzo, former deputy general secretary of NATO. Current US Foreign Service officers from the US Embassy in Rome, who were able to provide insights into careers in the Foreign Service and the unique challenges officers face, also visited the group.
Students had afternoons, evenings, and weekends to experience the rich culture of Italy. Several students made good use of their free time with weekend trips to locations outside of Rome, including Venice, Naples, Assisi, and Florence. From enjoying Italian operas to visiting the Vatican Museum, students were able to gain a deeper understanding of the culture of Italy. Most importantly, they learned a good deal about Italian and European perspectives on Mediterranean regional security and the ongoing conflicts and complex European relations with the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Geopolitics of Mediterranean Security study abroad was a great opportunity and a well-planned academic course,” said Forest Clark, a Bush School student who participated in the trip. “With all that is occurring in and around the Mediterranean today, Dr. Cerami and Marconi University were able to tailor a unique program that centered on security-related current events, their historical foundations, and their geopolitical ramifications. Also the ability to experience the city of Rome and its cultural sites was an added benefit to this wonderful Bush School opportunity.”
The trip to Italy was a part of the Bush School’s study abroad program, which typically offers trips during the winter and summer months. Past trips have included visits to China, Belgium, India, and Germany. Students at the Bush School are also able to take part in reciprocal exchange programs that allow students to take graduate courses at institutes of higher education around the globe. Partnering universities include Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada; Freie University of Berlin; Jindal University in Delhi, India; National University in Seoul, South Korea; and several universities in China, including the Institute for International Studies in Shanghai, Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu.
“Study abroad trips are an important part of the education students receive at the Bush School,” said Dr. Gause, head of the Department of International Affairs. “By taking part in these international opportunities, students are able to develop a better understanding of a region in ways only possible by actually visiting the area and interacting with the institutions and people there. At the Bush School, we seek to provide students studying international affairs a well-rounded education. Study abroad trips, international internships, language immersions, and exchange programs are a big part of that effort.”