During the week-long trip, Denison students participated in group activities on campus with students of the B.S. program in Tilburg. They also toured Amsterdam and Rotterdam together, spent time in Brussels at NATO headquarters and the European Commission for briefings on the migration crisis in Europe, and visited the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
“No matter what side of the election you were on, hearing from the people who work on these issues day-to-day for their entire careers underscored for students that the U.S. has been instrumental and indispensable in the post-war infrastructure of institutions like the EU, NATO, and the UN,“ says Crossley-Frolick. ”And then you have this election, which appears to throw all of that out the window.“
Getting students out of the classroom for a week was undeniably transformative and made a lasting impression on the American students. At NATO, students went through a rigorous security check and had to leave their cell phones behind. At the International Court of Justice, they literally came face-to-face with two men who were on trial for genocide, the worst possible crimes against humanity. It was the kind of full-on experience that could only happen outside the classroom.
“I want students to see that the kinds of questions and problems we were talking about in this course really do have real-world significance,” says Crossley-Frolick. “And when you’re almost touching these issues, it adds a level of understanding. At the same time, it fosters a whole new set of questions.” In preparation for a day-long U.N. Security Council simulation crisis, Denison students were given a two-hour briefing on the Syrian refugee situation by a Dutch expert on peace and security issues, Dr. Sjo Soeters.
Denison and Tilburg students split into groups of 15 different, theoretical countries for the simulation, but no one could come up with a solution for even one minute aspect of the Syrian refugee crisis because of the complex social, economic, and governance factors involved in the problem. And that’s the point.