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Economic Security Symposium centers on international trade agreements

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Students and cadets, including 11 from around the world, discussed trade policy during the university's first Economic Security Symposium.

On Nov. 15, the University of North Georgia (UNG) welcomed experts in international trade and cadets from 11 different nations to its first-ever Economic Security Symposium to examine the question "International Trade Agreements: Do They Enhance or Degrade U.S. Economic Security?"

"The symposium presented an opportunity for UNG students to engage a critical and contentious issue from the recent political campaign," said Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of the College of Arts & Letters. "The symposium combined presentations from experts in the field of international trade agreements with opportunities for questions, dialogue and student-led presentations. The result was an exciting educational opportunity for students to consider the consequences of policy decisions. It gave students the chance to think about their classroom learning in a different light."

Cadet William Putt, a UNG senior who graduates in December, learned more about how multilateral trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are created.

"It gave me a greater understanding of trade agreements that the U.S. makes and the process that the U.S. goes through in making those agreements, such as TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), which are being highly debated right now," Putt said. "It was not so clear as to where we're going on trade, but how we're going to get there is what I got from the symposium itself."

Edwin Motsamai from South Africa
Edwin Motsamai from South Africa, left, traveled 24 hours to make his first trip to the United States and spend a week at UNG and attend the  symposium.

The event featured some 70 highly qualified UNG students and cadets from multiple campuses who are pursuing a variety of fields including business, international affairs, political science, criminal justice, mathematics, computer science, languages, and security studies. The event was conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies, the College of Arts & Letters and the Mike Cottrell College of Business.

Each group consisted of a mix of seven civilian students and cadets; among those participating were cadets from military academies in Poland, South Africa, Latvia, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Austria, Republic of Georgia, Brazil, and Japan.

Edwin Motsamai from South Africa traveled 24 hours to make his first trip to the United States and spend a week at UNG and attend the  symposium.

"It has been a great experience and I've been able to learn about different cultures and different ways of doing things and getting different perspectives," Motsamai said. "From the symposium and discussion of the different agreements, how does that affect the culture and the defense force for a country? I've really learned a lot from this symposium and there are a lot of lessons that I can take back."

The international cadets are being hosted all week by the Office of the Commandant and the Corps of Cadets.

"Exposure to the cadets from other nations deepens our cadets' understanding and respect for people of other nations and cultures," said Keith Antonia, associate vice president for military programs.

Guest speakers included Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Reginald Jones Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury; Amy Holman, director of the Office of Multilateral Trade Affairs in the U.S. State Department; and Mary Waters, deputy commissioner of international trade for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

In addition to UNG faculty members, group facilitators included Robert M. Thacker, Tony Cuzzucoli and Cynthia Reynolds, all three members of the Atlanta Council on International Relations, and Dennis Cook, an alumnus and 20-year military veteran.

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