EU Awards Two Grants to EU Center

The EU Center at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana has received two prestigious grants from the European Union, the Getting to Know Europe grant and the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence grant.

Teach-In: European Refugee Crisis

On September 22nd, a teach-in about the recent refugee crisis in Europe was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Read about it here.

European Parliament Oversight

The European Union Center co-sponsored a presentation given by Prof. Nuria Esther Font Borrás from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Read more about it here

Back to School at What Cost?

Watch the online roundtable discussion sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

A Minute with Richard Tempest

Read the Illinois News Bureau Online's interview with EU-affialiated faculty member Richard Tempest.

Videos of Previous Lectures

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Testing the Limits of the EU--Greece, the Economy, and Refugee Crises

This article was written by Carlo Di-Giulio for the European Union Center.  The subject of this article is the roundtable discussion held on October 30th, 2015.  To view the video of the event, please visit our article here

Testing the Limits of the EU -- Greece, the Economy, and Refugee Crises

Greece is facing many problems in these days. The economic crisis is not over yet, the cast of a “Grexit” shadow is not too far away, and refugees from the Middle-East are fleeing their homes, where war is destroying the past – let’s think about the destruction of the archeological sites in Palmyra – and making the future dark and uncertain.

With all these problems in mind, discussing about Greece and its future was not an easy task for the panelists. First, the economic crisis has deeply been conditioned in Greece and the Greek people in their lifestyle, their hopes and their plans for the future. Second, the refugee crisis puts Greece on the spot as the front-end of institutional and organizational weaknesses of the European Union.

The unemployment rate in Greece touches the 26%, with a peak of more than 50% of that number being members of the youth population. No wonder the middle class is taking advantage of cheap flights to leave Greece and travel to a European destination that offers better job opportunities with the chance of going back home very easily.  For instance, low-cost companies offer round trips for less than 70 euros from Athens to London.

The crisis is also producing a de-urbanization effect. In the countryside, agriculture is still ensures some jobs (e.g. olive production), but is in the cities that the crisis has really had a dramatic impact.

Still, the consequences are deeper and worse than that. "Brain drain" frustrates all the efforts – and money spent – for Greek youth’s education. Emigration affects the quality of democracy, as well as the age of the population, and this causes deep consequences on the general political equilibrium.

Sadly, the European Union was not very active during the Euro crisis, even though the institutions of the EU after the Treaty of Lisbon were supposed to be stronger and more powerful than before. A growth of intergovernmental treaties not involving the EU Commission fosters the idea that the importance of the EU institutions is decreasing in the eye of single member states and citizens as well.

The refugee crisis tells us a lot about these problems and shows how the EU cannot tackle them alone. Yet, the EU has a lot of potential, and with better strategies to interact with neighbor countries and strategic partners (e.g. Russia or Turkey, addressed for a long time as problems) it may be able to emerge as one.

However, the refugee crisis is not only a European problem. It is a global emergency. If Europe cannot think to solve this problem alone, the world cannot close its eyes to something that has to do with human rights and human dignity.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Right to Accessible Information for Global Citizenship: UNESCO’s Programme for Persons with Disabilities

Photo by Carlo Di-Giulio
On October 27th, the European Union Center and the Center for Global Studies co-sponsored the Annual Mortenson Center's Distinguished Lecture, "Right to Accessible Information for Global Citizenship: UNESCO's Programme for Persons with Disabilities.   This article was written by Carlo Di-Giulio, a graduate assistant at the European Union Center.  

In times when comprehensive information is available to us in just a few clicks, and opening a webpage becomes easier and faster every day, we might forget that around the world, accessibility is still an issue for many. We should take a few minutes to think about how disabilities can change everyday life – digital access included – for those who are affected. We should consider how many people suffer because of access limitations around the world and how those numbers are evolving. Then, we may want to think about all the barriers that a person can encounter when trying to access information.

People with disabilities represented the 10% of the global population in the 1970s, and today the number has increased to 15%. The idea that one billion people have a disability around the world really pushes us to seriously consider ways to guarantee everyone full access to services and information.

Linguistic barriers are another limit to accessibility. In a global environment like the Internet, multilingualism might be necessary to avoid exclusion. Curiously if we think about it, it does not represent a problem only for language speaking minorities. If the English language is widely used online as the most common one, and an English-only website is not accessible to a non-English speaker, valuable information contained in foreign websites (take as an example news about a local conflict, or about specific national policies), might be out of reach even for the language speaking majority.

Especially in today's world, accessibility has to be considered a Human Right. A limitation in accessing the Internet is a barrier to accessing information and knowledge. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is actively working for improving accessibility all around the world.  They are trying to reduce barriers that can foster poverty, exclusion, illiteracy, unemployment, and many other problems that impede harmonized development and true global participation. Workshops, conferences and other initiatives aim to sensitize governments, companies and even public opinion.

Furthermore, UNESCO is actively producing recommendations and guidelines in order to set global standards on accessibility. The ultimate goal is to achieve a world where any person can feel involved in the world where he or she lives. Access to information, knowledge and consciousness of the global environment is the only way to become a real global citizen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Former MEP Michael McGowan's Visit to the European Union Center

This article was written by Neil Vander Most for the European Union Center.  

On Wednesday October 28th, 2015, the European Union Center, working in close coordination with Illinois State University, organized a day of activities involving former Member of the European Parliament Michael McGowan and visiting scholar from the Catholic University of Leuven, Dr. Kolja Raube. Together, these gentlemen met with a number of students and faculty members both at Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University.

These two distinguished scholars brought with them a wealth of experience and information about the institutions and politics of the European Union. Former MEP Michael McGowan of the UK was the president of the Committee on Development and Cooperation and is an expert on the international relations of the European Union. He is also a former journalist and broadcaster with BBC television and radio. For Dr. Raube, he is a senior researcher for the Leuven Center for Global Governance Studies and the Programme Coordinator for the Catholic University of Leuven’s Center for European Studies. He has an active research agenda that investigates the foreign policy of the European Union, especially its coherence on the global stage and the role that the European Parliament plays in steering such policy responses.

Together with EU Center Staff and EU Affiliated Faculty Member Dr. David Cleeton, Mr. McGowan and Dr. Raube met with students in ISU’s Economics and Political Science programs. They fielded a range of thought-provoking questions about the various challenges that face the modern European Union. These included the threat of a British exit from the EU, the Euro and migrant crises, and the current state of the Schengen area. Later, this group visited Illinois Wesleyan University to attend one of their economics courses which lead to further productive discussions about the state of the modern European Union.

The next day, on October 29th, the European Union Center sponsored a question and answer session with Mr. McGowan at the University of Illinois. Meeting with a large number of students and faculty from all disciplines on campus, Mr. McGowan further shared his expertise and unique perspective. Mr. McGowan’s unique position as both an insider and outsider to the EU allowed him to field a wide variety of difficult questions with thoughtfulness and ease. Speaking as a former Member of the EU Parliament, he gave insightful responses about the way the EU actually functions and how it responds to events in the world. And, as a British citizen and politician, he was also able to speak to doubts in his home country about the effectiveness and legitimacy of the EU and put these feelings into a larger context. Mr. McGowan also addressed questions about the recent election of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labor Party in the UK and the consequences of this leadership change on British politics more broadly.

The interests of the students and faculty at ISU, IWU, and the University of Illinois led to numerous constructive discussions that challenged and informed all involved. These exchanges of ideas ultimately helped strengthen transatlantic ties.

“Travel to the Frontlines of Climate Change and the Arctic with a Unique Illinois Interdisciplinary Field Site Course”

Used with permission from Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan
“Travel to the Frontlines of Climate Change and the Arctic with a Unique Illinois Interdisciplinary Field Site Course”

SCAN 386, GLBL 386, or SESE 386 (6 credits):
SAO-LAS: Stockholm Summer Arctic Program
June 7 - July 7, 2016

The Stockholm Summer Arctic Program is an intensive, five-week program, which takes place in Stockholm, Sweden and a field site in Northern Scandinavia, above the Arctic Circle. Students in this interdisciplinary program learn about issues related to human settlement and exploration, resource extraction, environmental conservation, historical and industrial heritage management and international governance in the Arctic region. With case studies from Sweden and the Nordic societies as the focal point, students draw from first-hand visits to historical and industrial heritage sites, interviews with political institutions and indigenous groups, in order to understand how these actors have shaped and been shaped by their Arctic environment over a long-term historical perspective.

Is this program a good fit for you? 

Are you interested in the following academic areas?

Anthropology; Communications; Earth, Society and Environment; English and Comp. Literature; Geology; Global Studies; History; Media Studies; Natural Resource and Environment Sciences; Political Science; Scandinavian Studies & German Studies; Sociology

 If so, this could be a great program for you!

Estimated program cost: $7,000 

I4I Scholarship - $500
IPS Scholarships - $300-$3,000
Discipline-Specific & Additional Scholarships available on the Illinois Abroad & Global Exchange website! 

You'll need: GPA - 3.0; minimum Junior status (by Fall 2016).
Program Dates: June 7 – July 7, 2016
Application Deadline - February 15, 2016

Apply online today at:
Contact us:

Further Resources: 

European Union Center (EUC)
Innovation Immersion Program (IIP)
Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange