EU Day 2017

Learn about EU Day and the keynote delivered by David O'Sullivan, Ambassador of the EU to the U.S. on the 15th Annual EU Day on March 15.

Master of Arts in European Union Studies

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois offers the only Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) program in the Western Hemisphere. Learn more here.

Language Shapes Opinion Towards Gender Equality

Dr. Margit Tavits discussed langauge and gender as a part of the EUC Faculty Lecture Series.

Conversations on Europe

Watch the collection of online roundtable discussions on different EU issues sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

Transatlantic Relationships after US Elections

Watch the EUC Sponsored Roundtable on Transatlantic Relations after the 2016 US Election with Moderator Niala Boodhoo

Videos of Previous Lectures

Missed an EUC-hosted lecture? Our blog's video tag has archived previous EUC-sponsored lectures.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

European Union Awards Prestigious Research, Teaching and Outreach Grant to the European Union Center at the University of Illinois


Champaign, IL, August 7, 2017

The European Union Center (EUC) at the University of Illinois (UI) has been awarded its second Jean Monnet Center of Excellence grant. This program funded by the European Union (EU) promotes greater study and understanding of the EU and transatlantic relations in the US. The competition was quite high with only nine Centers in the U.S. receiving this prestigious designation out of 344 eligible applicants worldwide.

The EU has designated the EUC as a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence for 2018-2021 for its project “Re-imaging Identities and Institutions for a Stronger Europe (RIISE).” This prestigious designation acknowledges excellence in the EUC’s teaching, research, and outreach programs. The EUC will use the funds to continue to serve as the campus focal point for outreach, research, and teaching related to the EU. The EUC will also reach local, regional, and national communities through strategic outreach activities.

In particular, the grant will strengthen transatlantic dialogue by building on UI expertise and international partnerships through delivering seven research projects including a scholar-in-residence program; six new courses; refereed publications and an e-book; unique virtual platforms for transatlantic dialogue among educators; extensive academic and outreach programming, including conferences, speaker series, a European journalist-in-residence program, competitions for high-school and college students; and impactful high-visibility public events. The project will explore historical roots of European populism; the EU as an actor in international institutional order; legislative careers in EU institutions; European parties and elections; EU cultural programs; social inclusion and the linguistic integration of migrants in the EU; gender politics focusing on Eastern Europe; and EU enlargement.

The EUC, under the leadership of the Center Director Carla Santos, will administer the program in collaboration with distinguished project faculty from across disciplines: William Bernhard, Jake Bowers, Xinyuan Dai, Carol Leff, Konstantinos Kourtikakis (Political Science); George Deltas (Economics); Zsuzsanna Fagyal and Emanuel Rota (French & Italian); and Zsuzsa Gille (Sociology, Global Studies).

Prior to becoming a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence in 2015, the EUC was the only American institution to have simultaneously coordinated two successful Jean Monnet Modules to teach team-taught courses on “Europe and the Mediterranean: Transnational Spaces and Integration,” awarded in 2011 and completed in 2014, and “Eastern Europe and European Integration,” awarded in 2013 and completed in 2016. Besides the course offerings, the Jean Monnet Modules reached other EUC stakeholders through conferences, lectures, publications, radio/TV broadcasts, webcasts, and workshops. In addition, the EUC previously secured three Getting to Know Europe grants from the EU (2008-09; 2011-12; 2015-17) to explore the multi-faceted economic, social, cultural, and environmental connections between the state of Illinois and the EU through study tours, conferences, lectures, competitions and digital media.

The University of Illinois European Union Center (EUC) was established in 1998 with support from the European Union, as one of the ten original EU Centers in the United States. In 2003, the US Department of Education designated the EUC as a Title VI National Resource Center, a title the Center has held successively. In 2011, the European Union recognized the EUC as a European Union Center of Excellence. In 2015, the European Union recognized the EUC as a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence for the first time.

For more information please visit the EUC website at
Contact: Dr. Sebnem Ozkan, EUC Associate Director; 217 244 0570;


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dialogue: A Polish-Jewish Film Series screens Shimon’s Returns

By Cassia Smith

A poster for Dialogue: A Polish-Jewish Film Series for Spring 2018 (now completed). Includes a still from the film Scandal in Ivansk as well as basic location and sponsor information and screening dates for the films Shimon's Returns, Border Street, and Scandal in Ivansk.
What would you expect from a story about a Holocaust survivor returning to Poland as an old man? What wouldn't you expect? In this blog post by Lizy Mostowski, creator of the Illinois Polish-Jewish film series Dialogue, we hear her perspective on the 2014 film Shimon's Returns. She discusses the expected and unexpected directions the film takes. She also provides insight into the reasons why that film was chosen and her goals with the Dialogue film series overall. If you missed the screening, or would like to learn more about the goals and ethos of the Dialogue film selection process, this blog post will fill you in.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Conversations on Europe Videoconference: "May 1968: Legacies of Protest in France"

By Paul Myers

This conversation on Europe focused on the mark left by, but also the influences of, the student, and trade unions protests in the May 1968, remembered for youth clashes with police and other apparatuses of governance in the streets of Paris. While the immediate offshoot was seemingly the solidified power of the De Gaulle regime, as he won office with greater majorities later that summer only to replaced by an acolyte the following year, the protest themselves were and remain emblematic of a social and political shift. The conversation opened with a brief visual introduction by Dr. Jae-Jae Spoon, including some of the poster images displayed in this blog.

A two-tone brown and cream illustration showing the silhouette of a man in a broad-brimmed hat standing behind a young teen boy. The boy is wearing a white collared shirt and suspenders, and the silhouette man has his hand over the boy's mouth. To the left of the two figures is text reading "Sois Jeune et Tais Toi."
Figure 1
The panelists (Dr. Chris Reynolds, The Nottingham Trent University; Dr. Salar Mohandesi, Bowdoin College; Dr. Daniel Gordon, Edge Hill University; Dr. Giuseppina Mecchia, Department of French and Italian, University of Pittsburgh), moderated by Dr. Jae-Jae Spoon, began their discussion considering what May 1968 had meant. Dr. Reynolds noted that the answer to that query was highly dependent upon to whom it was posed. That is, the month and the history which both shaped and came from it, was understood differently, especially upon theoretically uncomplicated binary divisions like left and right, young and old, as well as urbanite Parisian and their rural counterparts. The panelist agreed that positionality and privilege very much shaped the varying lenses by which the protest of the month were viewed. Dr. Mecchia noted that ‘’68 does not start in ‘68’, but arrived on the tides of anti-imperialist and anti-colonial movements that were formed in response to perceptions of de Gaulle’s regime by non-insignificant portions of the French citizenry. Agreeing and augmenting, Dr. Salar offered that not only does ’68 not start in ’68, but it doesn’t end there either. The labor unrest and crises that would occur in the 70s were tinged with characteristics of the protests of ’68. Yet, he also noted that varied views of ’68 also included the resentment of present day protesters that identify ’68 as a space of arrested development in the French popular consciousness, and thus the slogan “F**k May ’68, Fight Now” has appeared not only in France, but across Europe and the world, including the black block protests at the 2009 G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, as a rallying cry for a present revolution that doesn’t nostalgically lionize the past. A part of this disavowal is predicated on generational differences as the “kids” of ’68 came of age and now find themselves comprising the present middle classes and in places of power that bring into question their commitments to change—exposing them to being impugned by younger generations as selfish. In the eyes of today’s youth, those “kids” are now sellouts.

Black and white image of a cartoon hand writing a declension of the French verb participer, ending in the phrase "ils profitent", which is underlined.
Figure 2
Dr. Gordon contested the emphasis on generational differences in scholarship and the popular imagination, explaining, that ‘Not all youth [in ‘68] were radical, and not all radicals were young’. That is, today’s youth critique operates in oversimplifications and mischaracterizations of yesteryears’ youth. That to impugn the present lack of a cohesive radical spirit of the now-adult kids of ’68 implies that there was one previously. Gordon went on to explain that factory workers were on strike for significant periods of time before the protests of 1968 became a part of the zeitgeist. He closed with the consideration that maybe the protest that were so remembered had now become a cliché to today’s youth protestors, only offering them the frustration of an ill-conceived analogy.

Drs. Salar and Spoon closed this portion of the discussion noting that the comparisons of protest, especially made by the older generation, depersonalizes why people protest. Underscoring this point, Dr. Spoon noted how often the protestors of the time, now speak of being “there”, and how they were deeply impacted by space, place, and each other. She then moved to point out that the events of the year were transnational and multifaceted. Interestingly, Dr. Gordon noted that former French President Nicholas Sarkozy got his political start attempting to be a part of the counter-protest. He also explained that the faces of French labor at the time were indeed multinational and in desire of some semblance of protection. Over time, even though the protests are still remembered, they’ve been whitewashed and nationalized towards a less complex fabrication of French identity. Dr. Salar similarly expressed that though many of the protestors were French and male, that it would be an incomplete recollecting of the protests to not include women, queer rights activists, prisoners, and migrants who were attempting to invert or reconfigure presumably fixed social assemblages.

Black and white illustration of a woman in a full coat and narrow-legged pants tossing a boxy shape (that might be a brick) toward the viewer. Text above and below the figure reads "La Beauté Est Dans La Rue."
Figure 3
The conversation, drawing to a close moved out from France, with the scholars speaking on how the French saw themselves on the periphery of movements occurring in the United States and global South held in response to desires for worker, civil, and equal rights, as well the end of war. However, the protests also were influenced by the lack of closure from World War II. Those unhealed wounds and imagery were reflected and reconstituted in protests (note the SS symbol in the image below).

The panel also considered if the ’68 protests could be thought of in any way as a harkening back to French Revolution or a harbinger of today’s populist movements. The panel was largely in agreement that comparisons to 1789 were out of line, but that other revolutions had been influential. Regarding present, ongoing movements, Dr. Reynolds offered the idea that populism, unlike the progressive protest of ’68, is inwardly driven with yearnings for a contrived past. Countering, Dr. Salar explained that the protest of ’68 fostered the neoliberal 1970s. Thus, today’s populism is a second order effect, as the agreements and solutions of neoliberalism are being challenged by empirical experiences and ideology. Closing the conversation, Dr. Gordon stated that the populism of today is anachronistic by some measure. There seemed to be some agreement that though populism may be a part of the contingent history that includes the protest of ’68, that there are a multitude of issues that must be thoughtfully considered by scholars when placing the two eras in conversation—either in comparison or contrast.

A blue and white illustration of a policeman in a helmet. He is brandishing a long, thin club in his right hand, and holding a large, round shield in front of him with two white zig-zags that could be stylized S's.
Figure 4
Figure 1:

Figure 2:

Source : Gasquet, Vasco. 2007. 500 affiches de mai 68(Bruxelles : Aden), p. 55

Figure 3:

Figure 4:


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Speak Truth to Power: Civil Disobedience Past and Present

By Cassia Smith

A few decades apart, two men sat in jail and wrote letters to their colleagues, describing their visions for effective and ethical protest under unjust rule. On March 14, 2018, one of these men joined other activists and teachers to discuss nonviolent protest past and present.

A black and white photo of Martin Luther King, Jr gripping a lectern with both hands and leaning toward them and toward the viewer. His gaze is up and to the left, and his lips are slightly pursed as though he is about to speak.
Martin Luther King, Jr in 1964
(Source: Library of Congress via Wikimedia)
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in response to a letter he had received from a group of white pastors who objected to some of his actions and rhetoric. This letter has become one of the classics of the American Civil Rights movement, as it briefly but clearly describes both King's point of view and the moment in which he was working. Decades later, in 1985, King's writing would also inspire a democratic activist imprisoned under communist rule in Poland: Adam Michnik. Michnik wrote a letter that was smuggled to his fellow underground activists and eventually made its way to the editor of the New York Review of Books, who published it under the title "Letter from the Gdansk Prison." Building off King's legacy of nonviolent protest and love for his fellow man, Michnik advocated against a continuation of violent protest against the communist regime and for a program of civil disobedience similar to King's strategy.

On March 14 of this year, Michnik spoke by videoconference to students at the College of Lake County on the influence King had on his idea, on the legacy of his own letter, and on protest in the current political climate. Professor Cathy Colton spoke on the history and ideas of King's original letter, and young activists working in the area of nonviolence today rounded out the program. This event was organized by the Center for Nonviolence at the College of Lake County and co-sponsored by the European Union Center, the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, the Peace Exchange, and the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training.

A black and white photo of a thin white man in a plaid shirt and jeans. He is standing slightly above the photographer in a stairwell, and leaning slightly back and to the side to grip the railing. He is smiling slightly while squinting against a bright light.
Adam Michnik in 1991
In his main remarks, Michnik states that one of the things he found most useful in King's writing was that King faced two opponents to his work: The government-sanctioned oppression of Jim Crow segregation and other systematized racism; and the widespread acceptance of these practices by the public. Michnik felt he also faced two similar opponents: The oppressive, anti-democratic communist government on the one hand, but also the "stupidity" and populism that he saw feeding into widespread consent to Soviet rule. At the time he was imprisoned, violent protest against the Communist Party was common. However, he felt this was leading to an ineffective vicious cycle of violence on both sides. He made the analogy that they knew how to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but now he and his colleagues needed to understand how to make fish soup back into an aquarium. They needed to learn how to make dead things alive again. Michnik felt that King's policy of nonviolence and love toward his oppressors was the answer to this conundrum.

Towards the end of his talk, Michnik spoke of disappointing turns in the politics of both Poland and the United States. Though he did not have a positive opinion of recent political developments in either country, Michnik said that he was an optimist. Speaking through an interpreter, he said, "I know one thing: if we decide to follow in the steps of Martin Luther King, we are sure not to be defeated. Maybe we will not have political success, but we will win as people. And is there anything more important than to live one's life in accord with oneself?" He referenced Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech and urged those present not to give up on their dreams.

You can listen to the entire program by downloading the wav file. (Mac users may need to use the free media software VLC Player in order to view the video.) The video quality is poor due to the limitations of the web conference software used to facilitate the live event, but aside from some crosstalk when Michnik joins the video conference the audio is fairly good. In addition to the remarks from the scheduled speakers, there is also a question and answer period where audience members ask for Michnik's perspective on recent Polish legislation denying Nazi collaboration, advice for young protesters, and Catholicism under communist rule. The entire recording is about an hour and forty-five minutes long, and provides a range of perspectives on and experiences in nonviolent political activism.


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