Student Workshop on NATO new strategic concept

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Dear students,

Below you can find information on a Student Workshop on NATO new strategic concept that will be organised in London on Dec 13, 2021. Those interested we kindly ask to contact the Department of Strategic Studies and International Security of our Faculty ( until Nov 30, 2021.


NATO is updating its Strategic Concept. As part of this work, the UK, with our co-hosts Poland and Portugal, will be holding a day-long seminar in London on 13 December to inform thinking about the defence and deterrence dimension. Senior diplomats from all NATO member states will be attending, as will external experts from the academic and think-tank community. But we also want to engage with young people so that their perspective on the challenges facing NATO over the next ten years and its responses can be considered in the round. We would like to have input from university students based on six questions (see below and attached). Each university will work individually on these questions. Nearer to the time, we will ask you to nominate one student to represent your university and to present the headlines or key points that have been identified by the wider group. The week before the seminar, we will host a virtual meeting of these representatives who will work together to prepare a short presentation that represents the input of all universities. Six students will be invited to London on 13 December to present these collective findings to senior diplomats from NATO member states.

Universities involved

The following UK universities will be participating:

–          University of Birmingham; Coventry University; University of Kent; Kings College London, University of Plymouth; Queens University Belfast; University of Sheffield; Staffordshire University; University of Stirling; University of Westminster.

To reflect our co-hosts, and along with Jagiellonian University and Warsaw University, the Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisbon will be participating. The task and questions set will be exactly the same and Polish and Portuguese students would participate in exactly the same way as UK ones and alongside them.

Choice of students

 The choice of students involved (undergraduate, postgraduate or a combination of both), the number of students involved (a small number or larger cohort) and the academic disciplines represented is entirely at your discretion. How you engage students with the questions set out below and how much time you devote to this task is also entirely up to you. But while we want to give you a decent amount of time to work on this, we don’t expect weeks of work! In short, please feel free to approach this task in whichever way works best for you and your students.

 Questions for students to consider

1) What are the main characteristics of the security environment that NATO faces today? What are the main threats that NATO needs to deter and defend against?

2) How do you think the security environment will change over the next 10 years?

3) What do you think are the security threats or challenges that NATO will need to defend against and deter in 10 years’ time?

4) Which of these do you think NATO should prioritise in its updated Strategic Concept and why?

5) What tools or approaches do you think NATO needs to have in order to defend against and deter the main security threats or challenges you have identified?

6) What else, if anything, do you think NATO needs to consider specifically relating to defence and deterrence?

We do not expect detailed analysis or subject matter expertise; instead, students should identify ‘headlines’ or ‘key issues’. Bullet points relating to all six questions should be able to fit on one side of A4 (see attached). Completed returns from each university will be the basis for the virtual meeting of student representatives so please make sure that this form is filled out. The presentation that students will give on 13 December will last 15 minutes. Please bear these points in mind when approaching the task.

Supporting materials

We are really keen to know how students see the security environment – today and over the next decade – and what they think it means for NATO defence and deterrence. Therefore, we will not be providing any input or guidance that might influence their views, their discussions or the conclusions they reach. But you may find the following NATO background material useful:

–        A brief guide to what a NATO Strategic Concept is and what it is designed to do

–        The current NATO Strategic Concept

–        By defence, we mean protection or support against attack (military and non-military, e.g., cyber).

–        By deterrence, we mean actions to dissuade an actor from attacking by persuading them that any benefits they may seek to gain are outweighed by the costs.

Travel and accommodation

The British Embassy in Warsaw will book and pay for travel and accommodation for one student from Poland attending the seminar on 13 December. The FCDO will arrange a day-long programme for students, including of course attendance at the relevant part of the seminar to give their presentation. If one member of academic staff would like to accompany each student to London, we would be delighted to include you in the day-long student programme (excluding the student presentation due to space constraints); however, travel and accommodation for each academic would need to be self-funded or by universities.

Key dates

Now:  Students begin to address the questions that have been set.

W/c 22 November: We will contact each university asking you to nominate one student representative.

W/c 6 December:  Teams/Zoom meeting to discuss findings involving one representative from each university. During the course of this meeting, all representatives will agree key findings and produce a 15 minute presentation.

13 December:  Seminar in London where 6 students from UK, Portuguese and Polish universities will present these key findings to senior officials from NATO member states.