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AUA Holds Inaugural Workshop on Small States Studies

YEREVAN, Armenia – On April 30, 2019, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program held the Inaugural Workshop on Small States Studies. The event was a result of systematic preparations and dialogue with the Center for Small State Studies (CSSS) at the University of Iceland. Preparatory discussions with CSSS were conducted by PSIA program Chair Associate Professor Dr. Vahram Ter-Matevosyan and Dr. Narek Mkrtchyan, AUA Adjunct Lecturer,  Coordinator of the Initiative for Small State Studies (ISSS), and Member of National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia.

The speakers at the inaugural workshop were Dr. Mkrtchyan; Cyber Security Expert of the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research Dr. Anahit Parzyan; Associate Professor at the University of Iceland Dr. Silja Bara Omarsdottir; and Co-Founder of Paradigma Educational Foundation Narek Manukyan. The workshop was moderated by AUA Assistant Professor Dr. Jenny Paturyan.

Dr. Mkrtchyan kicked off the workshop with his presentation on Small State Studies in Armenia: Theoretical Approaches and Research Directions. He first laid out the concepts and theories that touch upon small states, then he explained the four research directions of ISSS, namely Institutions, Security, Diaspora, and High Technologies. These will allow studying  Armenia through the prism of small state studies.

Next, Dr. Parzyan discussed the Cybersecurity Strategy of Armenia. According to her, technological advancement in cyberspace presupposes that small states would face existing internal and external security challenges in the security environment. She proposed several tactics for creating the National Cybersecurity Strategy of Armenia for tackling those domestic, regional, and international challenges in cyberspace.

The next speaker to take the floor was Dr. Omarsdottir with a talk  on Niche Diplomacy and Branding: Gender Equality in Iceland‘s Foreign Policy. The presentation was based on a paper that examines the way gender equality is used as a brand in Iceland’s foreign policy to gain status and build authority. She also questioned the way in which politicians adopt labels abroad that they are not willing to embrace at home.

The workshop concluded with a presentation by Manukyan on Small State Educational Policy-making in Times of Supranational Reform Influences. The talk reflected his recent paper on the role of policy borrowing within the framework of reforms in the general education system of Armenia.  He referred to several broader research studies in comparative education (specifically on policy borrowing) and brought up the case of Finland as an alternative model of educational policy-making. Mkrtchyan proposed two concepts for Armenia – “small but smart” and “small state but global nation.”

The presentations were followed by a Q&A session, during which the audience had the opportunity to elaborate more the topics covered.

After the Q&A session, Mkrtchyan announced that the ISSS will be hosting lectures by the Ambassadors of Scandinavian states to Armenia. The first lecture will be held by the Ambassador of Iceland to Armenia at the end of the May 2019. Mkrtchyan mentioned that the AUA ISSS also will be hosting conceptual talks by local and international scholars, diplomats, politicians to discuss the small state concept as it applies to Armenia.

The complete talk can be accessed here.

The AUA PSIA program equips students with advanced analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and communication skills through the study of political science and international affairs, emphasizing local and global perspectives and practical applications of theory. The program aims to provide world-class research and teaching, through which graduates can best contribute to the development of the nation.

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