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Spring 2013 presents policy document before former Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell; State Department Desk Officers

After presenting to former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty on Friday, our students had barely two hours to prep for their next assignment: defending their North Korea policy document recommendations at the State Department.The defense was part of the Capstone policy document experience at SEGL: each semester writes a collaborative policy document that addresses a key international challenge and provides practical recommendations to solve it.  This term’s cohort chose North Korea’s nuclear program.

Fenty_State-00513After trekking South to the State Department, the students met in a conference room (remodeled since our Fall 2010 visit!) in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  There they met Adam Hantman and David Muehlke, the Desk Officers for North and South Korea, respectively, for a 90-minutes session.  Each of Fenty_State-00467our six groups (the document was written in six sections of four students) introduced its expert witness, who spoke for three minutes and then defended her or himself against penetrating questions and informed observations.  The meeting was off the record, so we can’t give details, but we can’t resist this: after the presentation one of the experts said that several weeks earlier students from a leading graduate school had visited the Bureau to make a similar presentation; the SEGL students were every bit as impressive as the graduate students were!

Fenty_State-00561Several days later, the students met with Dr. Kurt Campbell, who served as President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs until February.  Six experts again presented their ideas and defended them in front of Campbell’s tough questions.  Campbell also shared several extraordinary personal stories about his meetings with North Korean diplomats inside and outside of North Korea.  His views were different in some key ways from the State Department experts, which provided a nice counterpoint for the students.

Next up: our famous (or, depending on your perspective, infamous) Crisis Simulation!

May 18, 2013

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