Fisher Students Participate in Policy-Making Simulation

April 6, 2017

This spring, five St. John Fisher College students got a taste of the complexities of diplomatic relationships and legislative procedures, thanks to EuroSim, a simulation of the policy-making process in the European Union.

Ben McDougal, Harry DeVoe, Justine Bartnick, Haley Panek, and Alberto Martinez participated in the EuroSim conference.

The conference, held in March, brought together 175 students from colleges and universities in the United States and Europe, immersing students in real-world policy agenda-making.  Led by Dr. Sebastien Lazardeux, Fisher students Ben McDougal, Harry DeVoe, Justine Bartnick, Haley Panek, and Alberto Martinez spent four days learning about the role and impact of the European Union in global issues, and gaining a greater understanding of how decisions are made within the European Union.

The simulation program, which has its roots in the Rochester area, was first held at the College at Brockport in 1988. Under the leadership of Dr. John Harman, professor of political science, Fisher became a founding member of the program’s consortium in 1990, and has remained involved in the organization for more than two decades. When Lazardeux joined the College in 2012, he assumed responsibility for Fisher’s involvement in the program, and has since participated in five EuroSim conferences.

This year’s conference was held at the College at Brockport in recognition of its 30th anniversary. The diplomatic simulation focused on energy policy and energy security in Europe.

“Despite being a very complex and technical issue, Fisher students showed an impressive grasp of the topic and contributed to the passing of legislation that was in line with their respective alter ego's interests,” said Lazardeux. “The simulation helped develop their professional skills, added to their understanding of EU policymaking, examined in more theoretical terms in POSC 335, and promoted their cultural awareness.” 

Bartnick, a triple major in international studies, political science, and Spanish, said the conference was an incredible learning experience that helped her apply the skills she’s learned in the classroom in real-life situations.

“I was able to see how the countries participate in the Union, how decisions are made, how you make proposals, and more,” said Bartnick, who hopes to pursue a career focused on international human rights efforts. “This experience showed me the diplomatic route that is necessary to take when making policies, because things aren’t necessarily always black and white. It also furthered the notion that more is involved with making decisions to accomplish goals.”

DeVoe agreed, noting that the experience helped hone public speaking and negotiation skills.

“Each representative had to voice his or her opinion in some way, whether it was in formal meetings, informal meetings, or plenary sessions,” he explained. “Furthermore, it enhanced negotiating skills because the entire simulation focused on bargaining between the interests of member states in order to benefit the Union as a whole.”

In addition, he said the simulation provided a better appreciation for the framework of the European Union, in a way that a traditional classroom could not.

“One does not understand the hard-work and intense negotiations involved in EU legislating by simply reading or studying it. This program gives students the ability to experience a governmental process so different from our own in the United States,” he said.

Next year's EuroSim will take place between January 4th and 7th at the University of Brussels. The topic will be border security. Interested students, regardless of their majors, should contact Dr. Lazardeux at slazardeux@sjfc.edu for more information about registration for the simulation.