Each year since 1960 the U.S. Naval Academy has hosted a gathering of undergraduates from around the United States and the world who come together in the spring to discuss a theme from current global affairs. The conference has grown to be the leading undergraduate conference in the country. It has welcomed delegates from thirty countries in each of the last five years and had speakers as notable as President George Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
The conference provides an opportunity for midshipmen to come to understand the global forces that may project them into duty. Good officers need a sophisticated understanding of current affairs; this conference puts them together for a week with their civilian counterparts and other young officers. The program consists of three days of lectures, roundtable discussions and social events.
The Political Science department covers airfare and conference registration for two students to attend this conference each year. Students are emailed regarding the opportunity during winter term, and write a letter indicating their interest in attending, and provide a resume and references to support their application. Ben Eikey and Erika Davis were selected to be this year’s participants. Both were graduating seniors and both also participated in the Michigan in Washington program. They flew into Annapolis on Monday, April 8 and left on Friday, April 12. All delegates stayed at the same hotel and during their short stay made friendships that will last a lifetime.
Ben’s interest in attending was directly related to his interest in foreign relations and policy. He is intrigued by the role of the United States vis a vis the rest of the world and wanted to hear other points of view – especially those that differ from his own.
Erika's interests leaned toward issues in the South China Sea. She heard presentations by ambassadors from Singapore and Australia. According to Erika, the most memorable presentation was by Admiral McRaven, who spoke about how adventures become careers and ultimately a calling. Erika will be attending law school this fall and hopes to become a member of the Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General) Corps.
This year’s speakers included: Admiral William McRaven; William Miller (Director of Strategy for the U.S. Special Operations Command); Dennis Ross (Counselor at the Washington Institute); Ambassador Paula Dobriansky (Senior Fellow at Harvard University) and many more. Click here for more information about the NAFAC program.