Radicalization, terrorism, refugee resettlement. This semester in Belgium, Emily Lorimer ’20 is studying some of the most challenging crises facing Europe today and working with her peers and international experts to explore their causes and discover solutions.
At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels, the international relations and French double-major participated in a model NATO assembly this fall to debate solutions to a hypothetical terrorism and migration crisis on a fictional Mediterranean island. Based on recent and ongoing issues in the region, the simulation mirrored a meeting of the Operations Policy Committee, “one of the primary committees that report to the North Atlantic Council, the primary decision-making body of NATO,” Lorimer explains.
Each student represented a country — Lorimer represented Slovenia — and was given “three crisis military response operations” to the fallout of a terrorist attack on the fictional island. Each member, she says, “had to come to the conclusion of which response our country would endorse, given their public and foreign policy doctrines.”
Lorimer remembers thinking at the time: “This is actually how they do it.”
Following NATO procedures and protocols, the group debated the language of the operations document “to generate consolidated advice and recommendations, taking ‘technical breaks’ for our professor to comment on our performance and give advice,” says Lorimer. “Because our professor is a former NATO and has actually worked in the Military Committee, his commentary was very valuable and engaging.”
In addition to “NATO and Transatlantic Approaches to Security,” Lorimer’s other courses include “Political & Financial Risk Analysis,” “Intercultural Communication” and a French class that offers a unique look at contemporary Belgium, from women’s rights and empowerment, to the country’s “complex historical relationship with the Congo,” Lorimer says.
What has excited her the most in that course, she says, “was talking about the role of radical Jihadi fighters that have come from Brussels and security measures that the city has taken to prevent any future terrorist attacks like the Brussels attacks back in 2016.”
Together, these experiences build on coursework going back to her first-year at HWS and are helping inform her burgeoning Honors project, which will focus on counterterrorism strategy within the European Union, her regional concentration within her major.
“What particularly interests me is the role of the internet in radicalizing young people in western nations and encouraging them to commit acts of terror having never left their home country,” she says. “I want to focus on that and how we can use the internet to combat this. This has been an issue for Brussels in recent years and having spent substantial time here I want to research it and help come to a solution.”
Lorimer says her coursework around NATO this semester — both in the classroom and particularly at NATO headquarters — has illuminated the thrills and possibilities of future diplomatic work.
“What made it so rewarding for me was working with so many students from many different countries and working to draft the document and actually come to a resolution to the crisis,” Lorimer says. “We left that day with bulleted recommendations for the government of the country to take, and I helped make them. Leaving that day is when I realized that I want to go into foreign service after I graduate.”