Dr. Elis Vllasi receives grant for new Hybrid Warfare Student Challenge

September 28, 2022

Dr. Elis Vllasi, a limited term lecturer in Simon Fraser University’s Department of Political Science, has received a Targeted Engagement Grant from the Department of National Defence’s MINDS Initiative for his Hybrid Warfare Student Challenge (HyWSC). Dr. Vllasi developed this challenge to offer Canadian university students a better understanding of the policy challenges associated with hybrid warfare. 

The rapidly deteriorating global security architecture finds great powers like Russia and China, smaller states like Iran, and non-state actors employing hybrid warfare tactics that range from cyberattacks to propaganda and subversion, economic blackmail, and sponsorship of proxy forces. Such powers rely on ambiguity, strategic surprise, and deception to accomplish their objectives, and so Canadian students, our future decision-makers and leaders, need to be prepared with novel approaches to tackle their challenges.

Thanks to Dr. Vllasi, SFU will now be able provide experiential learning to students in a new way. The HyWSC will bring 16 teams from across Canada to SFU. Their knowledge will be tested, they will present pioneering policy ideas, and the results of the challenge to a panel of expert judges from across the national security and defence sector, academia, industry, and government. Throughout the challenge, students will develop key critical thinking and analytical skills.

Dr. Vllasi’s current research interests are focused on Russian and Chinese influence operations in the West. His work at SFU has included teaching courses on international security and grey zone warfare, as well as working as the NATO Field School and Simulation Program’s Assistant Field School Director in 2022.