The Transatlantic Conference 2023 addressed some key questions relating to EU-US cooperation on critical policy regarding politics, security, economics and global affairs. Held recently in Madrid, the top-level forum was organized by IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs alongside the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs, Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

This third edition convened an exclusive meeting of the minds between leading academics, experts in the Atlantic geopolitical space and past and present fellows from each organizing institution. A series of focused, closed-door sessions led participants through lively discussions on trade, energy, technology, the Russo-Ukrainian war and recent developments in Asia, Latin America and the Indo-Pacific region under the theme, “Is the Transatlantic Relation Back from the Dead, and for What?”     

A year in transatlantic relations

The conference is a brainchild of IE University’s Transatlantic Relations Initiative. It aims to foster informed debate on transatlantic relations and find practical solutions to navigate an increasingly complex, globalized landscape. 

This year marks the first time the Transatlantic Conference has occurred after a three-year hiatus. Held in the wake of the 2022 NATO summit in Madrid, this was an opportunity to dissect the impact of the declarations and Strategic Concept adopted at the meeting, one year on. The conference itself opened with an engaging public panel at IE Tower, taking a deep dive into the topic of “The Transatlantic Relation after the Madrid NATO Summit and the Start of the War in Ukraine: Accomplishments, Shortcomings and Challenges Ahead.” 

Alongside the gathering of high-profile global thought leaders, students from the Bachelor in International Relations were also in attendance. Maria Isabel Zuluaga and Litzey Ramos Landaverde are both currently in their second year of the program; they went in as volunteers, handling a wide range of tasks both before and during the conference.    

Getting a closer look

The opportunity to witness such high-level, bilateral talks firsthand is a coup for any scholar of international affairs. As María points out, “I had always been a spectator of this type of event.” However, by volunteering her time, effort and skill to its organization, she was able to see just how much time, planning, logistics and attention to detail went into an affair of such magnitude and scope.  

At the conference itself, both students were excited to expand their professional networks with regional contacts and connections across the pond. “With participants from all over the world and in different work sectors,” says Litzey, “it’s an event that has a lot to offer.” In-depth analyses on matters of global importance, knowledge exchange with preeminent thought leaders in the transatlantic relations arena and broad perspectives informed by diverse backgrounds, disciplines and experiences—indeed, the Transatlantic Conference is a melting pot of insights, ideas and opinions.    

This exposure to a range of outlooks is one of the main advantages of attending the annual event. “Everyone can share their knowledge and positions on the issues, adding different perspectives and points of view,” María agrees. 

A preview of the future in more ways than one

As these students see it, events like the Transatlantic Conference are an enriching part of the IE Experience. The conference is the perfect vehicle for personal and professional development, providing a space for impactful discussion where strategic visions of a possible future global order can be laid out.

Moreover, for the students, it serves as a sneak peek into their possible professional lives after graduation. “Being a part of this amazing event helped me gain an inside look into what a potential career plan for me might be,” Litzey says. By the end, they both learned the value of teamwork, communication and effective leadership, as well as “the overall etiquette” required in such formal professional settings.  

“My experience was one that I will always remember,” María states, while Litzey describes hers as “enriching, engaging and challenging.” Opportunities such as these are part of what makes the IE Experience so enriching, and both Maria and Litzey encourage other students to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings to take advantage of every opportunity that IE University offers. As Litzey concludes, “They truly are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will only benefit us as growing young professionals, and help pave the way for a successful career.”