Texas A&M Conference To Tackle Emerging National Challenges

The 65th MSC SCONA will host delegates from around the nation to create innovative solutions to major issues.

By Mustafa Ahmad, MSC SCONA, and Jamie Arrexi, MSC Student Programs

The MSC Student Conference on National Affairs committee (SCONA) will host its 65th annual Student Conference on National Affairs, “Forging America’s Future: Exploring Solutions for Current Challenges,” at Texas A&M University beginning tomorrow.

This year’s theme will concentrate on the development of unique, innovative solutions to the United States’ pressing problems.

The Feb. 13-15 conference hosts 140 delegates participating in 12 roundtable discussions. Delegates from the Texas A&M community will be placed with delegates from around the nation and paired with an expert facilitator to analyze issues such as Great Power rivalries, cybersecurity, climate change and infrastructure. Roundtable discussions will result in the production of a relevant policy paper and presentation.

“The final policy papers and their accompanying presentations produced from each roundtable are the focal points of the conference, with the delegates and facilitators spending many hours preparing them,” said Zach Griffin ’20, MSC SCONA chair. “These papers are the tangible products the roundtable sessions culminate in and they motivate the delegates to dive deeply into constructive public policy discussions.”

In collaboration with the U.S. Army War College, MSC SCONA hosts the International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise (ISCNE) as a pre-conference event. The ISCNE is an annual simulation of a transnational diplomatic crisis in which students roleplay delegations from different countries to negotiate toward a solution over an intense two-day period. This year’s scenario takes place in the Korean Peninsula and features delegations from North Korea, South Korea, China, the United States, Russia and Japan.

“The success of the ISCNE here at Texas A&M is dependent on the effective partnership between MSC SCONA and the War College,” said U.S. Army War College Liaison Lucas Hurley‘20. “We supply high-quality participants and facilities, then they supply the world-class program that is the exercise. It’s been a recipe for excellence in the past and this year seems to only be raising the bar.”

The conference will feature the following keynote speakers:

Casey Fleming ‘82: CEO, BlackOps Partners, expert on Hybrid Warfare. Fleming regularly advises senior leadership within the private sector, U.S. Congress, Department of Justice, FBI/Infragard, White House, government agencies, the military and academia on security strategy, cybersecurity, cloud, adversarial intelligence and issues concerning national security. He will also be the facilitator for the roundtable “Modern Monopolies: The Influence of Mega-Corporations.”

  • Feb. 13, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Rudder Theatre

Col. Mike Fossum ‘80, USAF (Ret.): COO of Texas A&M University at Galveston and former astronaut. Fossum has logged more than 194 days in space, including more than 48 hours in seven spacewalks. While serving on the ground with NASA, he held roles such as a flight test engineer, technical assistant for the space shuttle, and capsule communicator in Mission Control. Early in his career at NASA, Fossum represented the Flight Crew Operations Directorate in an extensive redesign of the International Space Station.

  • Feb. 14, 10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. in MSC 2400 (Gates Ballroom)

Maj. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton ‘86, Texas Army National Guard: Commander, 36th Infantry Division (Camp Mabry, Austin). During his extensive military career, Hamilton has served in Bosnia and various capacities in the Texas Army National Guard. Most notably, he served as dual status commander of Hurricane Harvey Operations when the storm greatly affected Houston, guiding measures to evacuate and secure the city.

  • Feb. 13, 3:30-4:45 p.m. in MSC 2400 (Gates Ballroom)

Keynote speakers and presentations are open to the university and local community.

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