While the International Relations Club sends students to debate international relations at conferences several times a year, Friday the club held a conference of its own: the fourth annual Georgetown Diplomacy and International Security Conference.
The conference, titled “Looking Ahead: Future National Security Challenges,” featured former national security advisor General James Jones and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright, who discussed international issues after 2014.
Five panels met throughout the day to talk about topics ranging from the changing American military to the role of the United Nations in peacekeeping to nuclear weapons to tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and U.S.-Israel cooperation.
IRC members began preparations last semester, choosing a conference theme and selecting keynote speakers appropriate for this year’s theme of national security.
“We have to pick something that is current, that is timely,” GDISC Panel Coordinator Christian Chung (SFS ’15) said.
Panel coordinators are given freedom to construct specific panel topics within the overarching theme of the conference.
“It takes a lot of persistence,” GDISC Panel Coordinator Nathaniel Oppenheimer (SFS ’14) said. “We come up with these ideas and we have our dream panelists, and nine times out of 10 you are not going to get your panelist.”
Panelists include well-known professors and government officials who are experts on the specific topics.
“It’s really cool to see something from a broad subject or a broad theme to an idea that you have and then you have four renowned experts and a moderator come together to talk about it,” Chung said.
GDISC is the largest student-run conference of its kind. This year the IRC received over $4,000 for the event from such bodies as the Student Activities Commission, Georgetown University Student Association and Georgetown International Relations Association, a 501(c)(3) organization that collaborates with the IRC.
The conference attracts attendees from Georgetown and from around Washington, D.C.
More than 300 people are registered to attend the five panels, one more panel than the group included last year.
“We had to split it up into subcategories again because so many events are selling out right now,” Director of Research Reno Varghese (SFS ’16) said.
GDISC scheduled the conference for the Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program weekend for early action students Friday and Saturday to attract prospective students.
“This would be a great event for GAAP students to find out what events can be held at Georgetown that are open to them, like seeing these huge names speak about topics they are obviously interested in,” Varghese said.
Over the past four years, GDISC has begun to build a reputation on campus.
“People are starting to remember us a little more,” GDISC Director of Logistics Audrey Atencio (SFS ’14), , said.
Despite GDISC’s relative obscurity, members are confident in this year’s conference.
“We always have a very nice finished product, and I think we have been able to produce that every year,” Oppenheimer said.
A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that the Student Activities Commission, Georgetown University Student Association and Georgetown International Relations Association were the only groups to provide funding for the conference. Additional sources of funding included The BMW Center for German and East European Studies, the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies, the Karl F. Landegger Program in International Business Diplomacy and the Mortara Center for International Studies. It further incorrectly stated that GIRA is a direct affliliate of the IRC.