It didn’t take long for a team of 19 North­eastern social sci­ences stu­dents to get into char­acter for the Model NATO Con­fer­ence last month in Wash­ington, D.C.

After dividing into two teams of del­e­gates rep­re­senting Bel­gium or Hun­gary, the student-​​diplomats made a strong showing at the mock North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion proceeding.

In its pre­miere showing at the event, the North­eastern team rep­re­senting Bel­gium nabbed second place overall and the team rep­re­senting Hun­gary came in fifth.  Stu­dents from 22 uni­ver­si­ties from throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Bel­gium, and Italy com­prised the 28 teams.

Nine North­eastern stu­dents received out­standing del­e­gate awards and two of the del­e­gates earned com­mittee lead­er­ship awards.

We have very high stan­dards for our­selves,” said Noreen Leahy, a third year envi­ron­mental studies major who was the head del­e­gate for Hun­gary at the con­fer­ence. “We’ll use the knowl­edge we gained there as a learning expe­ri­ence and will per­form even better next year.”

The four-​​day sim­u­la­tion of the NATO alliance pro­ceeding was aug­mented by pre-​​conference study and brief­ings at embassies of NATO member states in Wash­ington, D.C. The com­pe­ti­tion pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity for uni­ver­sity and col­lege stu­dents to study the role, struc­ture and activ­i­ties of NATO, as well as the mil­i­tary, political-​​security, eco­nomic and social issues facing the organization.

Model NATO is one of three United Nations Association’s leagues. North­eastern stu­dents also par­tic­i­pate in the Model UN and Model Arab League, explained Philip D’Agati, a lec­turer in the depart­ment of polit­ical sci­ence and advisor to all three UNA leagues.

But the stu­dents said that Model NATO was dif­ferent. “It required us to use dif­ferent strategic con­cepts than the other models,” said Catia Sharp, a third-​​year inter­na­tional affairs and envi­ron­mental studies com­bined major, who was the head del­e­gate for Bel­gium and is also pres­i­dent of Northeastern’s UNA chapter. “It was won­derful to see the group trans­late their knowl­edge from Arab League and Model UN and apply it in inno­v­a­tive ways to our par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Model NATO conference.”

Northeastern’s model leagues meet weekly and are com­ple­mented by Model UN, Model NATO and Model Arab League courses offered by the polit­ical sci­ence depart­ment. The leagues are com­pet­i­tive, and “the stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate are exceed­ingly pas­sionate,” said D’Agati.

For example, last fall, stu­dents decided to con­tinue their Model NATO class during finals week, after the semester had offi­cially ended. “Each class ends only after a vote to sus­pend or adjourn and that day, and the motion failed,” said D’Agati. “Twenty-​​six stu­dents voted to have another week of class so we could con­tinue our conversation.”

In a global arena, the United Nations Asso­ci­a­tion at North­eastern is one of the most com­pet­i­tive,” said Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties. “These pro­grams are para­mount to the university’s com­mit­ment to expe­ri­en­tial and inter­na­tional edu­ca­tion. We are very proud of our stu­dents’ con­tinued successes.