March Pilot Program Recap


American University successfully hosts the first U.S.-based Model G20 Summit

On March 25, 2017 nearly 100 students from eight universities across the United State came together to accurately simulate a Group of 20 (G20) Leaders’ Summit at American University’s School of International Service (SIS). The all-day event, the first of its kind in the United States, provided a unique learning opportunity for students to develop skills in diplomacy, multilateral negotiations and international economic affairs. SIS welcomed undergraduate and graduate students from various AU schools, as well as delegates from George Washington University, Georgetown University, Montgomery College, New York University, University of Houston, Baylor University, and George Mason University.

The morning kicked off with a symposium of G20 experts and practitioners on the “G20 at the crossroads: What is the way forward?” moderated by Robert Kahn, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the outset, Elke Kallenbach, Minister Counselor at the Embassy of Germany in the US, presented the main priorities and goals of the current G20 German Presidency, which motto is “Shaping an interconnected world”. Following, SIS Professor Randy Henning reflected on the functions, main accomplishments and challenges of the G20 summits; and Sandra Polaski, former International Labor Organization (ILO) G20 Sherpa, outlined the evolution of the G20 employment agenda and discussed the G20’s role in the current backlash against globalization.

After the panel, delegates—already assigned to countries and roles—separated into the G20 “Sherpa” and “Finance” tracks to address a number of key issues facing the global community. Mirroring the actual G20 process, delegates in the Finance track focused negotiations on the perspectives and challenges of the global economy—including trade, investment, job creation and financial issues—while Sherpas held negotiations on climate change, migration, refugees, and terrorism.

The MG20 Summit was chaired by SIS students embodying the G20 German Presidency. Following the working sessions, student delegates rejoined for a final ‘Leaders’ Summit,’ where delegations negotiated and adopted a ‘Communiqué’ outlining the agreed vision, commitments, and G20 priorities for the future. The day ended with a Family Photo and Awards ceremony recognizing the best delegates and delegations.

Eamon Martin, a junior at the AU Kogod School of Business representing Canada’s Finance Minister, remarked that: “My favorite part has been the opportunity to engage in collaborative and substantial work where we were able to address pressing economic issues.” Chandler Payne, a Master’s student at Georgetown University representing Brazil’s Sous Sherpa, highlighted that: “It has been interesting [...] to learn how Brazil, or another Latin-American country, might look at being involved in diplomacy with global superpowers, while Brazil is trying to become a regional power itself.” Payne would like to work in Brazil one day and valued the negotiation skills he developed during the MG20 Summit.

Launched in October 2016, Model G20 is a unique program designed by SIS to advance understanding of the G20 and international economic cooperation. According to Cecilia Nahón, MG20’s Executive Director: “As the premiere forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 provides for a fantastic experiential learning opportunity to develop skills in multilateral negotiations, public speaking, and diplomacy.” After a successful first MG20, American University will host the Inaugural Intercollegiate Model G20 Summit on October 6-8, 2017.

Mitchell Lenneville