Students Debate Today’s Surveillance Society in International Conference

Mairetta College student Monica Short studying abroad this semester at IAU College in Aix-en-Provence, France participated in the 11th annual international student conference on U.S.-European relations entitled “Peace and Conflict in an Age of Total Surveillance.”

Taking place on IAU’s Aix-en-Provence campus, the event was co-sponsored by Juniata College’s Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and AEGEE: The European Students’ Forum.

Monica majors in Psychology and International Leadership Studies at Marietta and had the opportunity to engage with students coming from programs in France, Belgium, Germany, Romania, Luxemburg and Italy. Participants discussed issues ranging from the role of whistleblowers to the average citizen’s willingly surrendering privacy. Expert speakers included exiled Moroccan journalist Aboubakr Jamaï, former European Editor of “The Guardian” newspaper David Gow, and political consultant David Coombes from the University of Limerick. 

The series of talks presented the history of the surveillance society and how it has become so prevalent today as institutions and private companies increasingly collect data on our communications and our daily habits and routines. Equipped with the knowledge provided by these seasoned experts, Monica and her colleagues were pushed to reflect on and to seek out their generation’s current condition and how to confront these issues.

Monica and her fellow students were in agreement that, “many of us had never thought that much about how our private information had been surrendered to Facebook or to Google and how that information was now out of our hands. My choices and my habits can be so easily manipulated. We need to find ways of ending this vicious circle.”