2024 Conference (39th annual)

January 31 and February 1, 2024
75 Years of NATO: Canada's Place in Democratic Grand Strategy


All events are FREE and open to the public.


  • Wednesday, January 31

    6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
    The Paul Buteux Memorial Lecture

    Alliances in a New Age: Celebrating 75 Years of NATO
    Mr. Robert Bains, President and CEO, NATO Association of Canada

    Location: Robert B. Schultz Lecture Theatre, Fort Garry Campus, University of Manitoba
    Tea/coffee and treats 6:00 p.m., lecture 6:30 p.m.
    Parking is free (except in marked areas) after 4:30 p.m.

    Watch on YouTube

  • Headshot of Robert Baines

More about Mr. Robert Baines

Robert Baines is the President and CEO of the NATO Association of Canada, where he is focused on communicating the importance of NATO and the international-rules based order to Canadians. The Association is a charitable non-profit which hosts events across Canada, publishes hundreds of articles online every year and engages young Canadians about NATO through social media.

Learn more about the history of the Paul Buteux Memorial Lecture and view a list of past speakers


Thursday, February 1

Location: Great Hall, Room 218 University College, University of Manitoba

10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - NATO of the Past panel
Maj (ret) Paula Thorne, PhD student, Peace and Conflict Studies, UM
Dr. James Fergusson, Senior Scholar, Political Studies, UM
Dr. Thomas Hughes, Postdoctoral Fellow, Mount Allison University
Dr. Ben Zyla, Visiting Scholar, Harvard University and Associate Professor, International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa

1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. - NATO of the Present panel
Nicholas Glesby, PhD candidate, Trent University and Program Coordinator, NAADSN
Dr. Anessa Kimball, Professor, University of Laval and Co-Director, Canadian Defence and Security Network
Dr. Alexander Lanoszka, Associate Professor, International Relations, University of Waterloo
U.S. Political Officer Jennifer Tierney, US Embassy (Ottawa)

2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. - NATO of the Future panel
Janice Tilly, PhD candidate, Sociology, UM
Dr. Andrea Charron, Professor, Political Studies and Director, Centre for Defence and Security Studies, UM
Consul General Vilhjalmur Wiium, Iceland's representative in Winnipeg and Manitoba 
Yulia Ivaniuk Squires, Coordinator, Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies, UM



Past conferences

Past conference themes have included:

2024: 75 Years of NATO: Canada's Place in Democratic Grand Strategy

2023: The Arctic is Hot

2022: International humanitarian law: Past trends, current reflections and the future (held online)

2021: The legacy of 911 and the defence of North America (held online)

2020: Manitoba at 150: Past, present, and future

2019: WWI and Versailles 1919: The making of the modern world (dis) order

2018: Terrorism and beyond: Defence and security in an new age

2017: Canada at 150: Canada in the world

2016: Elections: Democratic tools or democracy denied?

2015: he legacy of great wars: Marking history and humanity

2014: Canada and the Arctic: Challenges and opportunities

2012: 20 years of western military intervention: Protecting whose rights? 

2010: Manitoba as an international actor

2007: Aerospace power and counter insurgency

2006: The state of the state: New challenges in the 21st century

2004: Transformation of war in the 21st century

2003: Geopolitical perspectives on world politics

2002: Globalism and regionalism the evolving international system

2001: Canada's security and defence policy: Continentalism and internationalism

2000: Canada's external relations into the 21st century

1999: The next frontier: Civilian and military implications of space

1998: Conflict in a New World: Is war obsolete?

1996: International intervention: A challenge to world order?

1995: Order and disorder: Domestic sources of regional instability

1993: Canada and the new Europe

1992: Canada, the United States, and new challenges to security

1991: In defence of Canada: Constitutional, economic and security dimensions

1990: The end of the cold war? Prospects for East-West security in the 1990s

1990: The end of the cold war?



Coordinated by students in the Department of Political Studies and aided by the Centre for Defence and Security Studies and faculty members, the Conference’s mandate is to explore issues of current relevance in international affairs by inviting speakers from the academic, diplomatic, and government communities to present their views in a variety of academic panels. Every year the conference is eagerly anticipated by students, faculty and the general public wishing to seize the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers and officials in an intimate, collegial setting.

History of the PSSC

Under the stewarship of Dr. Paul Buteux, Professor of political studies and founder and first director of the Center for Defence and Security Studies (CDSS), the Political Studies Students’ Conference (PSSC) was founded in 1985. Buteux's genuine commitment to the Conference had remained a key driver of the organizational efforts for the event in the following years.

In 1983 Rahul Aggarwall, an energetic University of Manitoba student with an interest in arms control and disarmament, came up with a concept of hosting a conference that would unite students, academics, and professionals from across Canada and eventually the world. Mr. Aggarwall brought together fellow students John Skynner, Jeff Brown, and Aaron Hywarren and under the stewardship of Dr. Paul Buteux, Professor of Political Studies and former Director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, became the core group who put together the first annual Political Studies Students’ Conference. Soon after the first conference in 1985, Mr. Aggarwall decided to travel back to his home country of India and was regrettably killed in the bombing of Air India’s flight 182. The devastating terrorist attack and the loss of a close friend motivated Jeff Brown and Aaron Hywarren to keep Mr. Aggarwall’s dream and vision of a student conference alive. These two students would Chair the second annual student conference. During its third year the conference’s name started to become well known and it was no longer a conference strictly targeting International Relations students. Students became involved in the conference who were studying political administration and theory along with many other students not enrolled in the Political Studies Department. The third conference would eventually be the staple that solidified and stabilized many conferences to come.

After the arrival of Dr. James Fergusson in the Department of Political Studies in 1988, the CDSS became a regional hub in strategic research and a well-known, student-oriented think tank. Ever since, there has been a true synergy between the political studies students’ broader activities and the Centre’s research process.

The PSSC has invited numerous distinguished guests to present their views on a wide range of issues. Conference participants have included speakers from Canadian universities, as well as the London School of Economics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Leningrad (St. Petersburg), the Royal Military College, and officials from the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), RAND Corporation, Department of National Defence (DND), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Keynote speakers have included Romeo Dallaire, Commander of UN Peacekeeping Forces in Rwanda and Chief of Staff of the Canadian Forces; Susan Strange, prolific academic writer on globalization and international political economy; the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Foreign Affairs; and David Bercuson, historian and Globe and Mail columnist, just to name a few. Student "visitors" from the United States Military Academy (West Point), the U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs), the University of Moscow, Bulgaria, and Singapore have also had the opportunity to take part in the three-day Conference.

Although the range of topics has been diverse, the theme of each student conference has always centered on issues in international affairs and it's implications for Canada. Topics explore the economics, social, cultural, and political implications of the changes taking place in the world. The aim of the conference is to challenge conventional wisdom in the field and present policymakers with alternatives for the future.

Though remaining a distinct student initiative over the decades, PSSC has greatly benefited from the mutually reinforcing relationship between the students and the CDSS. Fully supported by the Centre’s director and lead staff, student enthusiasts who are involved in the preparatory work for each annual PSSC find a rewarding experience and great satisfaction in their overall engagement.

As a result, PSSC has gradually evolved into a nationally recognized forum on politics, defence and security with expanded international participation each successive year. It is now a long and prolific tradition that the graduate students in political studies, with the generous help of professors and undergraduate colleagues, are determined to keep alive and promote to new heights.

Contact us

J. W. Dafoe Political Studies Student Conference
532 Fletcher Argue
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3T 5V5 Canada