For decades, the Patterson School has sponsored a fall conference on a topic of academic and policy interest. Fall conferences themes are chosen to build expertise on the most pressing foreign affairs issues and to enhance familiarity with different geographic regions. The conferences are restricted to Patterson School students and our invited guest speakers - usually 12-16 policymakers and experts from government, think tanks and NGOs, and academia. The 2015 conference centered upon India in all its dimensions, bringing officials, businessmen, journalists, and academics from the subcontinent to provide firsthand accounts of developments and challenges. The 2016 conference focused a similar lens on political and development problems across the African continent.
The Patterson School has run various types of policy simulations for over a decade. In conjunction with the Army War College, we have run diplomatic negotiations exercises that have centered on conflict in the Caucasus (specifically Nagorno-Karabakh), the longstanding Cyprus problem, and the now-simmering territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Crisis simulations - run in conjunction with students from the School of Journalism -- have run the gamut from countering piracy off Somalia and hostage taking to probing how the US might handle the diplomatic fallout created by an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities or cybersecurity. Students both participate in the simulations and take a hand in creating them.
Regardless of individual major and minor concentrations, all Patterson School students receive a general exposure to international commerce. This is accomplished not just through courses and special guest speakers, but also by trips to headquarters, manufacturing, and operations centers of major multinational corporations. Entering classes often begin with a visit to Toyota's vehicle production facility (TMMK), or Three Chimneys Farm and follow this with excursions to Big Ass Solutions, Link-Belt, Brown-Forman, or Procter & Gamble's World Headquarters.
Since 2011, all students have been able to participate in a three-day Spring Break visit to a more distant city further linking classroom study with concrete exposure to diplomacy and international trade. Each trip encompasses 8-12 visits to corporations, government agencies, and NGOs. Destinations have included Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit, with related stops in Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario. A recent foray was to Georgia with stops at Fort Benning, Aflac, Coca-Cola, CDC, the Carter Center, CARE, the Mexican Consulate General, AGCO and the US Department of Commerce (Atlanta Trip PDF). The 2016 Spring Break Trip was to Ohio, Indiana and Chicago, with stops at Airstream, OmniSource, Boeing, MillerCoors, the German Consulate General, and DHS.
As for government site visits, students have traveled to military facilities such as the U.S. Army's Fort Knox or Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and to the US Department of State, Department of Defense and the US Senate. For the past several years, the School has been welcomed at the Department of Energy's Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to observe efforts being made to deter nuclear weapons proliferation.
Major contingents of Patterson students also attend the Middle East Institute's annual conference, as well as the biennial Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, DC. In 2016 and 2017, many Patterson students were able to visit Doha, Qatar for several days due to the generosity of Qatar’s government.