Students at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, recently participated in a video teleconference with their counterparts from the Russian Diplomatic Academy – the institution charged with training the Russian Federation’s diplomatic service. During the conference, Bush School and Russian students discussed a wide range of issues, including Ukraine, NATO, P5+1 negotiations, China and Middle East stability.
The conference was initiated by Ambassador Larry Napper, Senior Lecturer at the Bush School and career diplomat with decades of experience in US-Russia relations, as well as Professor Oleg Ivanov, Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the Russian Diplomatic Academy in Moscow.
Twelve Bush School students—a number of whom have professional and academic experience working with Russian affairs—exchanged ideas and opinions with some twenty Russian counterparts.
“This was a great opportunity to discuss areas of agreement and disagreement between American and Russian perspectives on current world events,” said Mark Swenson, a second-year student in International Affairs. “It was good to see the differing interpretations. The conversation was civil and professional, with an ability to agree to disagree,” Napper added.
In the wake of current events in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, informal diplomacy between each country’s citizens offers valuable insight into world events beyond official reports on the increasingly tense US-Russian relationship.
This event is one of many that the Bush School has held in recent months intended to stimulate discussion into the past, present, and future of the US-European relationship.
“Opportunities such as these – to engage with our Russian peers, to learn from professors with a wealth of experience, and to work with colleagues with a depth of knowledge and experience – offer tremendous value to the education of students at the Bush School,” said Robert Barron, second-year International Affairs student. The teleconference was the second such event this year between the Bush School and Russian Diplomatic Academy. Both sides expressed interest in furthering the relationship in the future through collaborative conferences and joint projects.