ATLIS hosts mini-conference on geopolitics, voluntourism

Last Saturday, approximately twenty students gathered in Avard-Dixon 118 for a “mini-conference” held by the Atlantic International Studies Organization.

ATLIS is a student-run organization that organizes an annual conference in January. The conference is followed by a peer-reviewed academic journal—a publication open only to undergraduate students.

To encourage participation at the January conference, Saturday’s conference was held to pique the interests of students. Mount Allison University students Manaal Farooqi and Sarah McNeil gave presentations to attendees, who also enjoyed a light breakfast. Farooqi’s presentation was entitled “Azerbaijan’s Geopolitical Importance.” Sarah McNeil presented “Beyond the Volunteer: A Proposed New Model for the Study of Youth-Oriented International Volunteerism.”

Farooqi first developed her interest in Azerbaijan during a simulation for a fourth-year international relations seminar, in which she acted as the Azerbaijani representative of The United Nations Security Council. She will be completing an independent study next semester on Azerbaijan’s relations with Iran, Russia and Israel. Farooqi’s research focuses on the political history of the country—particularly the effects of Soviet rule. In her conclusion, Farooqi spoke on the future of Azerbaijan and its move to take on a more European identity.

McNeil is a third-year student of International Relations and Economics. This summer McNeil spent two months working as an intern for The Dejavato Foundation. This organization organizes volunteers in Indonesia. McNeil’s experience was funded through Mt. A’s Mansbridge internship.

In her two months with the foundation, McNeil researched international volunteerism. As part of her experiential learning experience, she wrote a literature review and is finishing a paper regarding this subject. McNeil spoke about the existing academic debate on international volunteering before concluding with a presentation of a new model of her own: a call for research around the often-overlooked stakeholders indirectly impacting international volunteering, such as host families and governments. The role of these groups has yet to be fully explored, McNeil said, as they remain ignored in most of the existing literature. McNeil said she “gave some anecdotal examples of [the] experience” to illustrate how her travels added to the outcomes of her research.

The theme of this year’s ATLIS Conference is “‘Challenges to Future World Security: Food, Energy, and Privacy.” This theme was chosen because it is broad and can accommodate students from all disciplines, said Beth Cainen, who serves as an ATLIS vice-president.

Third-year French student Caroline Duda attended Saturday’s event. She found the conference “informative” and a “great opportunity for students to learn.”

The ATLIS executive is made up entirely of Mt. A students. The January conference attracts student presenters from universities across the Atlantic region.

January’s event will be the organization’s eleventh annual conference.

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