NATO-ACT Cooperation

Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Bologna and the Allied Command Transformation.


In 2006 , the University of Bologna and the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) have signed a collaboration agreement (Memorandum of Understanding - MOU) which provides the opportunity for students to do an internship at ACT and a series of activities of scientific collaboration. In the context of the MOU have been developed five main activities :  an international biannual conference with security and defense experts (Academic Conference) a simulation for the students a stage that is annually offered by ACT, thematic workshops and targeted research projects.

The simulation: the Nato Model Event

Since the academic year 2006-2007, the School of Political Sciences, Forlì campus, in collaboration with the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation HQ (SACT HQ) has organized the “Nato Model Event”, a simulation of the works of the North Atlantic Council, to which  students of the School as well as other Italian and foreign universities have taken part. The selected students, simulating the role of Atlantic Council states’ representatives, discuss and decide how to react to a given crisis scenario.

Professor Sonia Lucarelli has been responsible for the NATO Model Event between 2007 and 2011, followed by Prof. Mario Del Pero between 2011 and 2013 and by Prof. Eugenia Baroncelli since 2014. and 2018. Since 2019 the responsible is Prof. Mateo Dian.

The Academic Conference

Since 2011 an international conference has been added to the other activities foreseen by the Memorandum between the University of Bologna and SACT. It has led to several publications and helped constituting a permanent network aimed at fostering dialogue on issues related to the future of the Atlantic Alliance. The conferences, coordinated for the University of Bologna by Prof. Sonia Lucarelli, (professor of International Relations at the School of Political Sciences, Forlì campus) , in collaboration with the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome, touched upon crucial issues for the Atlantic Alliance, such as partnerships and smart defence and involved scholars from different regions  and from different professional backgrounds (academics, think tanks, NATO officials, military)

  • Managing change: NATO’s partnerships and deterrence in a globalized world (21-22 giugno 2011, Villa Guastavillani)
  • Dynamic Change. Re-thinking NATO's Capabilities, Operations, and Partnerships. (26-27 ottobre 2012, Villa Guastavillani)
  • Flexible Frameworks, Beyond Borders. Understanding Regional Dynamics to Enhance Cooperative Security (15-17 maggio 2014, Centro Universitario di Bertinoro)
    What NATO for what Threats? Warsaw and Beyond (04-06 ottobre 2015, Centro Universitario di Bertinoro)
  • Projecting stability in an era of hybrid warfare and terrorism: which NATO role?, Bertinoro 24-26 Ottobre 2018)
  • Pandemics and International Security: The Outlook for NATO (21-22 ottobre 2021)
  • SPACE – Exploring NATO’s Final Frontier (8-10 novembre 2023, Centro Universitario di Bertinoro)

The aim of the last Academic Conference was to critically analyse the challenges and opportunities for NATO in the space domain. Divided into two plenary sessions and three working groups, the Academic Conference lasted three days. Sixty leading NATO and space experts from academia, institutions and think tanks from various allied countries contributed to the discussion. Particular emphasis was placed on the development of a NATO space strategy, the capabilities and resources that will need to be made available to support it, and the role of space in the Alliance's defence and deterrence posture. The outcomes of this conference will contribute to NATO's innovation process, spearheaded by the Allied Command Transformation (ACT). The proceedings will be made available soon.

The high profile of partecipants, around 80 for each edition, has guaranteed a high level of debate in both plenary session and seminars. Under the auspices of the organizers, these meetings should represent a starting point for a constant exchange between universities, research centres, and NATO on politically and academically relevant security issues.

The PREDICT Project

In 2014, the PREDICT Project (Projections and Relevant Effects of Demographic Implications, Changes, and Trends), financed by SACT has been added to the other activities. The project, coordinated by prof. Sonia Lucarelli, in collaboration with Prof. Filippo Andreatta, saw the participation of several members of the Department of Social and Political Sciences (Prof. Baroncelli, Giacomello, Gasperoni, Panebianco, Zambernardi) and involved several international partners: Bruno Kessler Foundation-Cerpic (Trento); Warwick University (United Kingdom); Sabanci University (Turkey); Johns Hopkins University - SAIS (USA/Italia).

Responsible of the MOU for the University of Bologna di Professor Sonia Lucarelli.

The research project led to the realization of 4 interim report, to the organization of two international workshops, to the creation of a website and the realization of a video aimed at the divulgation of the results as well as to the official publication of the final report by NATO-ACT.

The PATTERNS project

In 2016, a second project PATTERNS, (Political Affairs and Technological Transformation: Evolution and Relevance for NATO Strategy), financed by NATO-act has been added to the other activities. The project, coordinated by Prof. Giampiero Giacomello, in collaboration with Prof. Francesco Niccolò Moro and Dr. Marco Valigi saw the participation of several scholars from Italian (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Università Federico II di Napoli, Universirtà Cattolica e del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Università di Trento) and international (Cornell University, Bundeswehr University, University of Sheffield, University of Oxford, NATO Defence College) academic institutions as well as from think tanks (Istituto Affari Internazionali, European Council for Foreign Relations). An interim and a final report – published by NATO – were realized.

The Thematic Workshop: Projecting Stability in an Unstable World

Bologna, May 10-11, 2017. Within the long-lasting and successful cooperation between academia and military institutions started in 2006 with a Nato Model Event and strengthened since 2011 with the Academic Conference the School of Diplomatic Sciences has promoted once again a two days’ workshop on the topic of projecting stability in the scenarios of international crisis. The workshop - coordinated by Professor Sonia Lucarelli and Francesco Moro, with the cooperation of Marco Valigi – has been organized with Istituto Affari Internazionali, and supported by NATO Allied Command Transformation.

Thanks to the participation of Sixty among major experts from academia, think-tanks, IOs and NGOs, the event has been articulated in three plenary sessions and three working groups. Through a multidisciplinary approach, the discussion has been then focused on the concept of stabilization, the potential advantages of more tight cooperation among NATO, IOs and NGOs, and the challenges in the last ten years raised around NATO borders.

The Expert Workshop: SPACE — Exploring NATO’s Final Frontier

Continuing the fruitful cooperation among UNIBO, NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT), and the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), a workshop aimed at exploring NATO's role in space was held in November 2022.

The two-day event saw numerous experts from academia, military, and industry discuss the major political, legal, military, and technological implications of the increasing use of space by numerous international actors — including NATO.

The main discussion points were published in an IAI report: