Live and virtual audience tunes in by the hundreds to hear presentations by guests and students

Last week’s two-day Peace and War Summit addressed global challenges presented by Russia, lately a straight-from-the-headlines discussion, and drew hundreds of attendees, in-person and virtual, from across campus and around the globe.

The summit’s opening presentation March 21, featuring an introduction from Norwich University President Mark Anarumo, comments from Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and addresses by U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John W. Weidner, the U.S. Strategic Command’s deputy director for plans and policy and Giorgi Tsikolia, deputy chief of mission for the  Georgian Embassy to the United States, drew 300 people, the conference’s largest crowd. The group, which included students and leaders from the Royal Military College Saint-Jean in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, nearly filled Mack Hall’s 388 seats.

Dr. Yangmo Ku, an assistant professor of political science and associate director of Norwich’s John and Mary Frances Patton Peace and War Center, which mounted the summit, said three scholarly presentations drew more than 200 people, two round-table talks drew 200 people and the one student session, featuring Norwich’s Ethan Owens and John Walsh, drew about 125 people.

“If you want to talk about conflict, you have to do things like this (summit).”Dr. Travis Morris, director, John and Mary Frances Patton Peace and War Center

Online, 500 people watched the events, he said. Several Norwich University faculty members will participate including Ku, Morris, Michael Andrew, Rowly Brucken, Lisa L. Chalidze, Miri Kim, Yangmo Ku, Daniel Morris, Huw Read, Steven Sodergren, Eszter Szenes, Lasha Tchantouridzé and Michael Thunberg.

Peace and War Center Director Dr. Travis Morris, an associate professor of criminal justice, said although any of the opening-day keynote speakers could have spoken compellingly alone, their multiple perspectives — military and diplomatic and Vermont-related — let students reflect on the “Russian riddle” multidimensionally.

“If you want to talk about conflict, you have to do things like this (summit),” he said.

Ku agreed with Morris, writing in an email that the summit’s speakers challenged attendees, especially students, to consider Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressions comprehensively.

“To understand Russia’s behavior and make effective Western responses, it is necessary to critically analyze a variety of factors, including changing identities, structural settings, complex institutional dynamics, domestic politics and personal character,” Ku wrote.

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Norwich University students listened closely and asked questions as the peers and guest speakers discussed global challenges posed by Russia. (Photo by Mark Collier/Norwich University)

Discussions linger

On the “In Their Words” page, Norwich University blogger Isabela Ferraro was analyzing summit speakers’ ideas for defusing the Ukraine conflict — what might the U.S. sacrifice, how might European nations be more diplomatically involved and how best to define “ally.”

“The term ‘ally’ was emphasized to be binding of actions versus the commonly loosely used version that simply displays that you ‘like’ each other or align well with them and favor them,” Ferraro, a senior international studies major and a U.S. Army ROTC participant, wrote March 22. “The first rule of NATO fight club is knowing the actual treaty, in reference to one NATO country being able to veto an idea and not automatically having all of them join a war.”

On Twitter, the Foreign Policy Research Institute was also reflecting. The account Editor of FPRI’s Orbis, which tweeted more than a half-dozen times during the summit, warned against hot-take conclusions. (Orbis is the institute’s magazine).

“Important caution: don’t extrapolate for the future — regime failure, newfound unity of the West, etc. — solely on the basis of the last four weeks,” the tweet read. “Trajectories have not necessarily changed.”

COMING THURSDAY: A Ukrainian student reflects on the war in Russia

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(Slideshow photos by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

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