Written by Dr. Elizabeth Guran, FOS Board Member
The Ukraine War and its impact on democratic societies was the topic of the final Student Summit sponsored by Friends of Slovakia and its partners at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Over 60 students from Matej Bel University, Wayne State University, and George Washington University participated in a lively and provocative discussion at the April 22, 2022 summit, which followed two other FOS Student Summits held in 2021. As with the previous two events, the third Student Summit addressed the overarching theme, “Challenges of Democracy”, and was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The summits have been closed to the public in order to promote a robust discussion and respect the privacy of the students.
The International Student Summit idea was conceived by the FOS Committee on Academic Exchanges to promote friendship and mutual understanding among university students in Slovakia and the United States and to enhance knowledge and interest in important global issues. Dr. Elizabeth Guran has chaired the FOS Academic Exchanges Committee and coordinated the three Student Summits.
Outstanding professors from universities in Slovakia and the United States have done a masterful job since the start of the summits in guiding discussions and encouraging students to share their opinions. Partnering closely with FOS in this effort has been Kevin Deegan-Krause, professor of political science at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and specialist on Central European politics; and Jozef Michal Mintal, assistant professor of political science and international relations at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, and specialist on international cyberpolitics and disinformation. FOS Board member Sharon Wolchik, professor of political science at George Washington University and Central European specialist, joined the cadre for the second and third summits. Also joining the group for this last summit was Vladimir Müller, an international economics specialist and assistant professor of political science and international relations at Matej Bel University. FOS board member Dr. Elizabeth Guran, with her NATO and defense expertise, also participated in this last Student Summit.