Stories from the 2022 Forum

Gonzaga MS in Organizational leadership spent the week in Brussels for the EU forum

Ten doctoral, graduate and undergraduate students from Gonzaga’s School of Leadership Studies are currently at the Brussels European Forum for a weeklong intensive global leadership experience. Along with 40 other international students, they are participating in simulations of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and G-20. 

Over the course of the week, these global leadership students will discuss key topics of transnational import, including climate change and energy reliance, migration policies and border control, global trade, human trafficking, women’s empowerment, economic recovery post COVID-19, cyber resilience, counterterrorism and stabilizing conflict zones, and NATO-Russia relations.

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Zags take the Brussels canals during their study abroad. Photo Credit: Bruce Hough

Today, our Gonzaga students and their international partners excelled in crisis management exercises at Brussels European Forum 2022. 

Additionally,  BEF attendees heard from two guest speakers, both alumni of the BEF program who currently hold prestigious positions in international relations in Europe. In these sessions, students received exclusive briefs and in-depth Q&A on emerging trends and policy in the face of the Russia-Ukraine war.

  • Marine Vessiere (Grotius Chambers), lawyer and advocate, partner and founder of Grotius Chambers in Hauge, specializing in international organizations and international law.  
  • Felix Moldovan, Energy Attache, Permanent Representation of Hungary to the European Union.

Faced with conflict and complexity, the team earned much needed time for reflection and recuperation in the midst of their intercultural immersion. Led by Sherri Lynch and Bruce Hough, some of our cohort ventured into the heart of Ghent for a canal tour in-between education sessions. Pictured (left to right) are:  Bruce Hough (ORGL ’18), Elizabeth Schultz (ORGL ’22), Luke Haley (ORGL ’22), Haley Anderson (ORGL ’20), Haylee Lynch (GU ’24), Sherri Lynch (ORGL ’04), Kyle Denton (ORGL, ’18).

Global Media Committee hard at work. Pictured left to right: Shannon Rosenbaum (DPLS), Haylee Lynch (undergrad), Cailey Kudrna (ORGL), Haley Anderson (ORGL alum).
Global Media Committee hard at work. Pictured left to right: Shannon Rosenbaum (DPLS), Haylee Lynch (undergrad), Cailey Kudrna (ORGL), Haley Anderson (ORGL alum).

Today the Global Media and International Advocacy committees took center stage at the Brussels European Forum. The International Advocacy committee was called upon for their deep knowledge when a protest forcefully entered the G20 summit, demanding that world leaders commit to action. The Global Media committee was there to capture the drama and transmit the news to citizens. Ultimately, with the collaboration among groups, the issue was resolved.

In addition to the learning activities that present themselves here at BEF, students have also found time for solitude and reflection during the Lenten season. The grounds here are vast and peaceful, and there are plentiful signs of the Catholic Jesuit heritage of the Abbey, which now serves as a Jesuit retirement home in addition to hosting various conferences.

The Gonzaga cohort in attendance at the 2022 Brussels European Forum in Belgium.
The Gonzaga cohort in attendance at the 2022 Brussels European Forum in Belgium. Photo credit: Kyle Denton
Today, the BEF participants visited NATO headquarters in Brussels, where they were welcomed with briefings and Q&A sessions with two NATO officials. Eric Povel, Program Officer, Engagements Section, Public Diplomacy Division briefed the group on NATO’s current political agenda, and allowed students to engage in lively Q&A about current affairs. Paula Redondo, Program Officer for Russia and Central Asia, Engagements Section, Public Diplomacy Division, also briefed the group and engaged in Q&A largely centered around the current Russia-Ukraine war. The group was photographed inside NATO headquarters, where President Biden was due to arrive just a few days later.

Upon return to Ghent, students resumed negotiations within their groups, with agreements being formed and finalized. The conference ended with an awards ceremony to wrap the rich and robust week.