March 27, 2018

International Affairs Symposium: The Scramble for Sovereignty

Lewis & Clark’s International Affairs Symposium is the oldest student-run symposium in the country. This year’s event, which runs April 9 through 11, will explore current topics intersecting with sovereignty via debates among prominent scholars.
  • Symposium cochairs Samuel Stites BA ’18 and Vinaya Bharam BA ’19

Lewis & Clark’s 56th International Affairs Symposium kicks off on Monday, April 9 and will run through Wednesday, April 11. The Scramble for Sovereignty: Modern Challenges to an Age-Old Construct will explore the definition of sovereignty in the modern international system and the way concepts of sovereignty interact with the interests of states, multinational corporations, and individuals across the world.

The oldest student-run symposium in the country, this event has received glowing reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. This year, the event is cochaired by Vinaya Bharam BA ’19 and Samuel Stites BA ’18, both international affairs majors, with a steering committee made up of 11 students from diverse disciplines across campus.

“Having witnessed the symposium purely as a student in my first years at L&C, then being involved in the steering committee last year, and finally being at the forefront of organizing such a huge event has been a really interesting thing to see,” said Stites. “So many people around this campus came together to create this really polished, high-profile event—it’s cool, it’s a privilege to witness, and a reward to experience from every angle.”

This year’s symposium is made up of six panel debates. Topics range from cybersecurity to the legality of secession to environmental concerns, and feature political and academic experts from around the world. All sessions are moderated by Lewis & Clark professors. One session of note is a debate on the issue of secession, featuring Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan regional government representative to the United States, and Aleksandar Pavcović, an associate professor of politics and international relations at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, whose research focuses on nationalism, state formation, and secession.

“This debate [between Rahman and Pavcović] is about separatism, which has always been a big topic no matter what decade or year we’re in,” said Bharam. “And that’s what I’m most excited for, to be able to provide a space for different opinions on these controversial matters to be heard. It’s a big thing for us, and it’s a big thing for L&C as well.”

A full schedule of events, all of which are open to the public, can be found here.

Department of International Affairs

This story was written by Mara Sleeter BA ’19.