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Students Overwhelmingly Engage in the First International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise

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Fifty students participated last weekend in the first International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

The exercise, which took place on Friday evening and most of Saturday, offered students an opportunity to experience realistic scenarios in the field of international affairs by engaging in strategic negotiations and teamwork. The event was hosted in cooperation with the U.S. Army War College and included an array of contributing military leaders and accomplished diplomats, including Ambassador Gary Grappo.

Rae Ann Bories-Easley, the director of the Office of Career and Professional Development, said it took a lot of work to organize the exercise, such as finding enough space in Ben M. Cherrington Hall to accommodate all of the participating students, faculty, and staff. However, the exercise still went smoothly, and Bories-Easley said that she anticipates it will unfold even better in the future.

“It’s really an honor to have the U.S. Army War College doing this for us,” she said.

All of the participants were divided into seven teams, each representing a different nation involved in a plausible regional crisis. In the case of this exercise, the scenario focused on resolving territorial disputes within the South China Sea.

The objective of each team was to strategize amongst themselves and negotiate with the other nations during the course of the exercise in order to bring an immediate resolution to the crisis, while maintaining the integrity of each team’s core national interests.

By the end of the exercise, the participating students had succeeded in improving their abilities for strategic thinking, negotiation techniques, and time management – all skills important for the oral assessment portion of the Foreign Service Officer examinations.

Danielle Jablanski, an MA candidate in International Human Rights, was a delegate of the United States of America, and said her team ultimately achieved its main objectives. Jablanski said that by participating in bilateral and multilateral negotiations with other teams during the exercise, the United States managed to deescalate the threat of military endeavors in the region, ensure Indonesia took a lead role in mediating the dispute, and safeguard India and Japan’s places at the negotiation table.

“This exercise allows you to look at an international issue from a multifaceted viewpoint,” she said. 

“You can break it down and hone in on the conflicting details, while not forgetting to trace it all back to the big picture and staying focused on your country's interests.”

Lindsey Johnson, an MA candidate in International Studies, acted as a member of the Indian delegation, and said the exercise allowed her to practice the art of negotiation, and stressed that others should take advantage of the program when it’s offered again.

“I believe that students would gain knowledge just from the hands on experience by working with other students and the mentors,” Johnson said.

“I definitely would recommend for other students to participate in this exercise next year.”