A FLAS Fellow's Semester Abroad in Amman

Audrey Dombro, an agricultural and consumer economics student and 2019-20 FLAS fellow, reflects upon her experience studying in Jordan.

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.

Reading Contagion through Boccaccio's Decameron

Dr. Eleonora Stoppino discusses the moments of social and ethical breakdown described by Boccaccio, as well as the potential for reconstruction after the plague.

Conversations on Europe

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

COVID-19 and Liberal Democracy in Hungary

Dr. Zsuzsa Gille responds to the "Enabling Act," passed by the Hungarian Parliament on March 30, 2020.

Videos of Previous Lectures

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Globalizing Education in the 21st Century: The Bologna Reform and Beyond

The Globalizing Education in the 21st Century: The Bologna Reform and Beyond conference was held on October 18-20. The conference was initiated by the division of Global Studies in Education in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership in the College of Education.

The opening keynote address was delivered by Dr. António Nóvoa, Professor Catedrático, Universidade de Lisboa. Dr. Nóvoa's lecture, entitled "Rethinking the Power of Universities in the World", discusses six important dimensions of the Bologna reform. View the video below or by clicking here:

Friday morning's keynote session featured Dr. Laura Engel, Assistant Professor of International Education and International Affairs, George Washington University. Dr. Engel delivered a lecture entitled "Europe's Quest for Quality: Hard Measures and Transnational Education Policy Steering". Dr. Engel spoke about the European Union's use of soft power and hard measures to create comparability, compatibility, and coordination in the standards of quality education. View the video below or by clicking here:

Dr. Fazal Rizvi, Professor of Global Studies in Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education and Emeritus Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, delivered Friday evening's keynote session. Dr. Rizvi discussed the global significance of the Bologna reform on employability and competitiveness and how these changes have been understood in Asia and around the world. View the video below or by clicking here:

For more information on the Globalizing Education in the 21st Century: The Bologna Reform and Beyond conference, visit the conference webpage.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Future of Europe and EU-US Relations: A Public Dialogue with the French and German Consuls General from Chicago

On October 16, Mr. Graham Paul and Dr. Christian Brecht, the French and German Consul Generals from Chicago, engaged in a panel discussion about economic, political, and foreign policy challenges for the European Union. The interviewer and moderator for the panel was David Inge, former WILL-AM 580 host. You may view the panel discussion below or by clicking here:

Mr. Graham Paul assumed the position of Consul General of France in Chicago in June 2010. Prior to the present appointment, Mr. Paul was Deputy Head of the French Embassy in Berlin (2007-2010) and Consul General in Munich (2006-2007). Having joined the Foreign Service in 1984, Mr. Paul has also been posted to Yaoundé, Cameroon; Paris, France and Hamburg, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Tokyo, Japan.

Dr. Christian Brecht has been the German Consul General since August 2012. Prior to his current post, Dr. Brecht was Senior Advisor, Forum of Federations in Ottawa, Canada (2011-2012) and Consul General in Karachi, Pakistan (2008-2011). Dr. Brecht, who holds a Ph.D. in law studies from Geneva, has also held Federal Foreign Office posts in Bonn, Germany; Beijing, China; Rangoon, Myanmar; Santiago, Chile; Sydney, Australia; and Paris, France.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

US Actions on Climate Change in the Next Administration

Warren Lavey, an attorney and economist, is an Affiliate of the University of Illinois EU Center. Lavey contributed to the European Union Institute for Security Studies' (EUISS) "From America With Love" series, in which EU Centers of Excellence identify the issues from the 2012 presidential election campaign that are set to shape future transatlantic relations. In his piece, Lavey discusses the role that climate change will play in the next administration. This article originally appeared on the EUISS website.

by Warren Lavey

For over two decades the EU has established a track record in global leadership on climate change. While producing mixed results, the EU remains committed to regional and global policies and actions advancing energy sustainability. Although sovereign debt, financial and other economic distresses have rocked the EU since 2008, these difficulties have not lessened the prominence of climate change on the EU’s political agenda. In contrast, the US has failed to keep pace with the EU’s standards in terms of domestic policies as well as participation in international agreements to reduce harmful emissions. Regardless of who wins, the next US administration will face high expectations by the EU for stronger action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The EU’s commitment to mitigating climate change is linked to US actions in at least four dimensions. First, the centrepiece of the EU’s actions caps greenhouse gas emissions (leading to 2020 emissions at 21 per cent below the 2005 level) and allows trading of emission allowances with the EU Emissions Trading System covering around 11,000 power and industrial plants in 30 countries. In 2012, the EU expanded this programme to include aviation operations in Europe as well as announcing technical and financial assistance to China in designing and implementing programmes for emissions trading. In direct conflict with the EU’s programme, bills were approved by the US House in October 2011 and Senate in September 2012 to exempt US airlines from having to purchase allowances under the EU system. More broadly, the US has fallen behind the EU on national incentives to reduce emissions. The Senate failed to follow the House in approving a programme to cap and trade allowances in 2009, and neither party has supported such legislation since then. Similarly, strong Congressional and industrial opposition confronted the US Environmental Protection Agency’s proposals for limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing facilities.

Second, at international conferences in 2009 and 2010, the EU, US and other developed countries pledged significant financial resources to help developing nations mitigate and adapt to climate change – about US $30 billion in the 2010-12 ‘fast start’ programme, and about US $100 billion annually by 2020. The EU committed to provide about one-third of fast start financing, and gave about US $7 billion in 2010-11. Along the same lines but less drastically than the EU, the US increased its international climate financing to US $5 billion in 2010-11. The EU expects that the US and other developed countries will cooperate in scaling up finances available to tackle climate change between 2013 and 2020. As a result of these pledges, the next US administration faces heavier financing obligations to aid climate change actions in developing countries.

Third, the EU is pressing for an ambitious, comprehensive and legally binding global climate agreement in 2015 to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol. The EU has repeatedly signalled its desire for a strong new international agreement, including among others: the commitment in 2008 to a 20 per cent reduction target for its region by 2020 compared to its 1990 level, raising the share of energy produced by wind, solar and biomass to 20 per cent by 2020, proposing to increase the spending on climate-relevant measures to at least 20 per cent in the EU’s budget in 2014-20, and endorsing the target for 2050 of reducing EU emissions by 80-95 per cent compared to 1990 levels as part of collective efforts by developed countries to reduce their emissions by a similar degree.

In contrast to the EU’s efforts, the US did not sign the Kyoto Protocol and has not adopted national standards for renewable energy production or emissions reductions. Emissions in the US in 2010 were 10.5 per cent above its 1990 level. Since the EU adopted its target in 2008, the US (as well as China, India and some other major emitters) have not followed the EU’s lead to create a binding global agreement on emissions limitations. The next US administration will have to decide whether to cooperate with the EU in seeking a binding commitment encompassing all or almost all major emitters. Such US participation would require not only Senate approval but also stronger federal actions on clean energy and energy efficiency.

Finally, recent actions by the EU’s largest member countries further demonstrate Europe’s deep commitment to addressing climate change. In particular, Germany’s subsidies yielded 7.5 gigawatts of solar installations in 2011, and France adopted major laws in 2009 and 2010 strengthening many environmental programmes, including renovating 400,000 buildings annually in a bid to achieve 38 per cent less energy consumption by buildings in 2020. Furthermore, the United Kingdom’s Department of Health released a report in September 2012 on the risks to public health from climate change, which forecasted that the nation’s annual heat-related deaths will rise from 2,000 in 2010 to 12,000 in 2080. These actions have highlighted Europe’s expectation for stronger US clean energy and energy efficiency programmes to lessen US emissions (19 per cent of global total).

The EU’s policies are closer to Barack Obama’s energy programme than to Mitt Romney’s position. Neither US presidential candidate highlights climate change issues as a matter of domestic policy or international relations. While both men seek energy security, neither candidate supports an energy tax or cap-and-trade which would reduce consumption as well as emissions. Obama promises to develop more clean energy and increase energy efficiency and indeed his presidency has witnessed federal support for renewable energy installations and research, regulations raising fuel efficiency of vehicles, stricter limits on emissions by coal power plants, funding for high-speed railroads, and other actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Romney offers a different course for energy touted as producing more economic growth. He embraces coal and other fossil fuels (ending federal subsidies for wind and solar energy), opposes many environmental regulations - perceiving them as imposing job-killing costs on domestic industries and households - and mocks Obama’s efforts to mitigate rising sea levels.

Independently of the election's outcome, the EU expects strong actions by the next US administration to tackle climate change. But a large gap is likely to remain, especially under Romney, between the EU positions and the domestic programmes and international commitments of the US.

Warren Lavey, an attorney and economist who was a partner at the global law firm Skadden, Arps, is an Affiliate of the University of Illinois EU Center, Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Geology and Agriculture at the University of Illinois, Senior Fellow at the Environmental Law and Policy Center (Chicago, Illinois), and Senior Regulatory Counsel at American Clean Skies Foundation (Washington, DC)

Photo Credit © European Union, 2012


Utne Reader magazine honors Dr. Mahir Saul with its Visionaries Award

Dr. Mahir Saul, Professor of Anthropology and EUC affiliated faculty member, has been awarded with Utne Reader magazine's 2012 Visionary Award. The award honors Dr. Saul's advocacy for African film, and his work designing a films series showcasing African cinema for the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

Read Utne Reader's article about Dr. Saul's ongoing support for African film, both here and abroad.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Q & A with Dr. Stefanos Katsikas

On October 11, Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, Director of Modern Greek Studies and Lecturer of Linguistics and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, was interviewed by Associate Editor Maria Karamitsos of The Greek Star. This article is reprinted with permission from The Greek Star ©2012. Visit www.thegreekstar.com.

by Maria Karamitsos

This week, The Greek Star’s Associate Editor caught up with Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, the new director and lecturer at the Modern Greek Studies Program at the University of Illinois.

Where are you from?

Mouria, northwest of Thessaly.

What inspired this career path?

I’ve always liked reading and history, hearing stories and past experiences of older people and reading history books. Greece’s historical past is very rich and history plays an important role to the country’s education and culture, which is difficult for someone to ignore anyway. My uncle was a role model; he’s Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki.

Tell us about yourself.

I studied history at Ionian University in Corfu. I earned numerous grants by the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY). With a grant, I pursued postgraduate studies at School of Slavonic and East European
Studies (SSEES), University College London (UCL). I got an MA in Southeast European Studies from SSEES in 1999 and a PhD in 2006; my research examined the mechanisms and factors which influenced the foreign policy of Bulgaria during the late Cold War and post-Cold War years. I did field research in Bulgaria (mainly in Sofia), met very interesting people and made very good friends. I also interviewed key political figures of Bulgarian politics in the Cold and post-Cold War period. I then wrote my first monograph, Negotiating Diplomacy in the New Europe: Foreign Policy in Post-Communist Bulgaria (London, 2011), which won a Scouloudi Publication Award from the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

I lived in London for 13 years, and was actively involved in the life of the Greek community of London,
including the Greek Orthodox Church.

What’s Greece’s role in the Balkan region?

After the end of the Cold War, Greece wished to play an important economic and political role in the Balkans. In a way the Greek political class often regarded the Balkans as the country’s ‘near abroad’, trying to increase its political and economic influence on that region and in some respects its attitude was similar to that of the post-Soviet Russian elite towards countries which formed the Soviet Union in the Cold War. This attitude and policies are often justified by the common historical and cultural commonalities which Greeks share with other Balkan peoples: for centuries, people in that region had close political, economic and cultural links and often Greeks found themselves living with non-Greeks under the same state authority, as was the case in the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The majority of Slavs in the region share the Eastern Orthodox religion. Many Greek governments followed constructive policies in the region after the Cold War. They assisted peace-making in conflict-torn areas—particularly in former Yugoslavia—encouraged and facilitated investment of Greek businesses and assisted the membership of Balkan states in NATO and EU. These policies were often disturbed by nationalism and bilateral problems such as the name issue with FYROM and Greece’s often problematic relationship with Turkey. The current economic crisis in Greece undermines any prospects for it to be an important political and economic player in the region in the future.

Greeks have been shaped by history: WWII, occupation and Civil War transformed a generation, with mistrust for each other as well as the government and foreign intervention. They had to become very wily to survive. These learned instincts were passed to the next generation, who took them to a new level. How do you think the next generation will evolve with the aftermath of the crisis? Will they be even craftier, more corrupt, or will they emerge on a new path?

History is not something static and unchangeable. Historical events often impact and stigmatize people, generate views and every day practices which can last for some time, but other future events come to
alter (and sometimes ameliorate) past views, behavior and practices.

From the end of the 1950s through early 1970s, Greece saw unprecedented economic growth (the ‘Greek economic miracle’) and society changed a lot in relation to what it was. During the same period, state administration—though discriminatory toward a large section of the Greek society
(mainly those with communist and leftist political views)—was in some respects more effective than the state and public administration of the last thirty years. On the other hand, phenomena such as mistrust towards fellow citizens and the government; foreign intervention can be also traced before WWII. How the next generation will evolve in the aftermath of the crisis depends on whether Greece follows the path of political and economic reforms and remains in the Euro zone and EU, or opts out. Political instability, social turmoil and unrest (possibly conflict), corruption, crime, xenophobia, racism and the rise of the extreme right will prevail for a longtime as Greece will remain at the margins of Europe. Whether in or outside the Euro zone (and possibly the EU), Greece is expected to be different from what it has been in the last thirty to thirty-five years.

What recommendations would you make to Greece to exit the crisis?

The three most important ones are: the Greek government must contribute to work closely with its European partners and the IMF to promote reforms that already committed; adopt policies which encourage productivity in a fields where the country can be competitive in world markets so that jobs would be created and unemployment (especially among youngsters) falls; promote drastic reforms in the country’s political, judicial and education systems.

How can Greece become a player in the Balkans?

Develop a strong economy and an efficient public administration, stick to its Western and European
orientation, conduct a creative and constructive diplomacy towards the region and follow a foreign policy free from nationalistic practices and stereotypes of the past.

What do you think is the future of this region?

This depends on a number off actors, which Balkan societies are often unable to control. I hope and wish that the Balkans became a region of long-lasting peace, economic prosperity, cooperation and creativity.

You’ve joined U of I.

I'll lead and contribute to the establishment, teaching and research environment of the Modern Greek Studies at U of I. The university has a very good reputation as a vibrant research environment that every young scholar would like to join. For example, its Balkan and East European studies program is among the best in the world, with a number of world-leading Balkan and East European scholars. Its Modern Greek Studies program is new and dynamic, allowing room for creativity. The prospect of developing and making it shine in the Midwest and effectively compete with other Hellenic and Greek studies programs in North America renders it a challenging and fascinating project and an obligation we owe to the large and historic Greek community of Illinois which absolutely deserves such a prospect. What I also find challenging is promoting Modern Geek studies and culture at a time that the recent economic crisis in Greece has tarnished the country’s positive image abroad.

I’ll contribute to teaching and research, and to the program’s further visibility and establishment. There’s
much to be done in this area; I’ll need and seek the Greek community’s support. My previous research and teaching experience in the fields of Modern Greek, European, Balkan and East Mediterranean studies will help me to integrate the program in the research and teaching conducted in research centers at U of I which support the program’s activities, such as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the European Union Center, the Department of Linguistics, and the Russian, European and East European Studies Center.

Besides the teaching of Modern Greek languages, the program’s first component which is now well-established, other fields must be developed, such as introducing courses on history, politics, literature, film, linguistics; increase the number of undergraduate students; the development of postgraduate studies and the recruitment of PhD students. In addition, the program can promote research in various fields of Modern Greek studies, including the history and current life of the Greek community in Illinois and other Greek Diaspora communities in America. Finally, through its research and social activities the program can bring the Greek community of Illinois closer to Greece and Cyprus.



Monday, October 22, 2012

The European Union's Nobel Peace Prize: Interview with Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, Professor John McCormick and Director Stefanos Katsikas

On October 18, Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, Director of Modern Greek Studies, University of Illinois, João Vale de Almeida, the European Union Ambassador to the United States, and John McCormick, Professor of European Union Politics, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis spoke with Focus, a radio interview program on Champaign-Urbana's NPR station, WILL-AM 580, about the Nobel Committee's decision to award the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize.

To listen to the interview, click here or visit its Focus page.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Diffusion Through Democracy

On October 5, Katerina Linos, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and recipient of the Larry Neal Prize for Excellence in EU Scholarship, delivered a lecture on her award-winning article, “Diffusion through Democracy,” published in the American Journal of Political Science (55.3). The Larry Neal Prize was initiated by the EU Center at Illinois to recognize excellent research conducted by affiliated faculty of the ten EU Centers of Excellence located throughout the United States. You can watch her full lecture below or by clicking here:

Katerina Linos' research and teaching interests include international law, comparative law, European Union law, employment law and health care law. To address questions in these fields, her work combines legal analysis with empirical methods. In Compliance with European Union Directives, she explores empirically why the most integrated international community we know, the European Union, stumbled in its efforts to harmonize the laws of its member states. In Path Dependence in Discrimination Law, she compares early race discrimination cases in the U.S., and early sex discrimination cases in the E.U., and illustrates how early doctrinal developments predict the success and failure of current national origin, age, disability, and sexual orientation claims in the two jurisdictions. In her current project, Diffusion through Democracy (forthcoming, American Journal of Political Science), Linos examines why soft international law and transnational norms often trigger major national legal reforms, despite the strong constraints domestic constituencies impose on leaders of democratic states. Prior to joining the Boalt faculty, Linos was an International Law Fellow and Lecturer at Harvard Law School, where she had previously received her J.D. She also recently completed a Ph.D. in political science at Harvard, in parallel with a junior fellowship at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Illinois International: Globalizing Education in Europe and Beyond

On October 10, Edwin Kreuzer, EUC visiting scholar and Professor of Mechanics at Hamburg University of Technology, joined University of Illinois Professor Cameron McCarthy and moderator Nicole Tami to discuss "Globalizing Education in Europe and Beyond" on Illinois International's first episode of the season. You can watch their full discussion below or by clicking here.

Illinois International: Globalizing Education in Europe and Beyond

Edwin J. Kreuzer is Professor of Mechanics at Hamburg University of Technology in Hamburg, Germany, where he serves as the Head of Research Section Mechanics and Ocean Engineering. He also served as the President of the Hamburg Univ. of Technology from 2005-2011. He received a M.S. in Studies in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Munich, a Ph.D from the University of Stuttgart, and a “Habilitation” in mechanics from the University of Stuttgart. He has held teaching positions at the Univ. of Stuttgart, Federal University of Rio de Janiero, Hamburg Univ. of Technology, and the Univ. of California, Berkeley. Over the years he has served as a Co-Editor of the book series Advances in Mechanics and a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Zeitschrift für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik (ZAMM) - Journal of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics. He has been a member of the Deutsches Komitee für Mechanik Board, the Congress Committee of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, the Hamburg Academy of Sciences (where he is a Founding Member), the European Academy of Science and Arts, and the German Academy of Science and Engineering.

Dr. Cameron McCarthy is Director of Global Studies in Education, Communication Scholar and University Scholar in the Department of Educational Policy, Leadership and Organization (EPOL) and in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor McCarthy teaches courses in globalization sudies, postcolonialism, mass communications theory and cultural studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has published widely on topics related to globalization, canon formation, race and the class conquest of the city, postcolonialism, problems with neoMarxist writings on race and education, institutional support for teaching, and school ritual and adolescent identities in journals such as Harvard Educational Review, Oxford Review of Education, Studies in Linguistic Sciences, The British Journal of the Sociology of Education, The European Journal of Cultural Studies and Education, Contemporary Sociology, Communications Inquiry, Cultural Studies, Discourse among many others. Professor McCarthy is currently one of the lead-investigators of the “Elite Schools in Globalizing Circumstances” global ethnography study of youth and education across 5 continents: Australia, Africa, India, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.


EUC Director Bryan Endres Featured in "A Minute With..."

EUC Director A. Bryan Endres was featured in the News Bureau's "A Minute With..." series. In his interview with the News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain, Bryan discusses the Nobel Committee's decision to award the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. This article originally appeared on the News Bureau's website.

Not everyone celebrated the recent announcement that the 27-nation European Union had been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which most often goes to individuals. Given its ongoing debt crisis, political infighting and debt-related upheaval in member countries such as Greece and Spain, many skeptics reacted to the news with ridicule and humor. So why the award, and why now? Bryan Endres, the director of the European Union Center and a professor of agricultural law at Illinois, discussed the award and the reaction in an interview with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

What do you understand about the Nobel committee’s reasoning in naming the EU for this year’s peace prize?

The Nobel Peace Prize ideally recognizes people or institutions who have created or provided substantial support for peace, broadly defined. This is a challenging task because peace is a subjective concept, and the selection by the Nobel committee is often viewed through a political lens. In light of the current financial crisis that has raised questions, both internally and abroad, about the future of the euro currency and the European Union, there has been a predictably skeptical response to the EU’s prize.

This is not the first Nobel Peace Prize controversy, of course. When the committee selected President Obama for the award in 2009, many thought that he had not yet accomplished enough for such a prestigious award. Regardless, the Nobel committee decided that the decades of peace on a continent that had been plagued by centuries of conflict provided a sufficient reason to award the EU the prize.

How would you make the case for the EU getting this honor?

The EU has facilitated the ability of 27 member countries to put behind them centuries of conflict. Old enemies now cooperate and the 17 in the eurozone share a common currency. Economic cooperation has led to political cooperation. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the EU encouraged Eastern European countries to reject communism and choose democracy. All EU member states must uphold certain human and minority rights.

The significant, although hopefully temporary, financial problems in the eurozone are unlikely to negate long-standing peace in Europe. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize will hopefully reinvigorate those who have started to forget the underlying rationale of the EU since its inception in the post-World War II 1950s – ensuring a peaceful Europe.

Given its inability to resolve an ongoing debt crisis, some Americans could be forgiven for seeing the EU as now dysfunctional and possibly better off dissolved. What do we need to know that might put the current situation into perspective?

Political motives have shaped the formation of the EU more so than economic reasons, despite the EU being first and foremost an economic institution. The origin of the EU – the European Coal and Steel Community – was a political mechanism to unite France and Germany and prevent future wars through the coordinated control of two key inputs for militarization: coal and steel. Similarly, Germany backed the creation of the euro in part to demonstrate that a post-Cold War unified Germany was not a threat to a peaceful Europe.

The EU ranks maintaining peace as its number one goal. At this point, there would be tremendous negative financial consequences if the euro were abolished and the EU dissolved. Despite the financial crisis, the EU continues to be the world’s largest economy and the largest trading partner of the U.S.

Despite the economic conflicts, it is hard to imagine a repeat of the world wars that devastated Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Should we give the EU much of the credit?

The EU has certainly played a role in deterring major wars from occurring in Europe. The effects of war in Europe would cause severe negative impacts in trade and most likely end the common market. Another important factor in maintaining peace in Europe, of course, is NATO. Bear in mind, NATO headquarters is a 10-minute bus ride from the EU institutions in Brussels. This is a close partnership, which makes an armed conflict among EU member states improbable. Although some critics of the EU’s peace prize have said that NATO deserves the award instead, the political and economic integration made possible through the EU deserves a tremendous amount of credit.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

EUC Affiliated Faculty Involved in Project to Improve Access to Education for Greek Roma

EUC Affiliated faculty Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis are members of The Education and Lifelong Learning Project, which works towards improving access to education and promoting social inclusion for Roma children and families in Greece. This article originally appeared on the News Bureau website.

by Sharita Forest

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — As Greece struggles to rebuild its shattered economy, humanitarian agencies worry about the impact that the nation’s stringent reductions in wages and social services may have on vulnerable populations such as the Roma (also known as Romani, gypsies and travelers), many of whom live in extreme poverty on society’s fringes.

Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis
Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, education professors at the University of Illinois, are members of a project team working to improve access to education and promote social inclusion for Roma children and families in Greece. Funded by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive and policymaking body, the Education and Lifelong Learning Project is one component of the commission’s far-reaching strategy for promoting the welfare of Roma children, youth and adults.

“We’re very pleased with the way this project is trying to intervene, and it’s very different from other projects,” Kalantzis said. “But it’s a big, difficult agenda for Greece and for Europe because these communities have been nomadic communities for centuries and outside of the mainstream. We did a lot of work in Australia with Aboriginal communities and that is why they valued our expertise as educators.”

Litsa Tressou and Soula Mitikido, faculty members at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, are the principal investigators on the project. The $7 million euro program involves more than 80 professionals – including education scholars such as Cope and Kalantzis as well as social workers and psychologists – who have forged partnerships with stakeholders in the Roma communities and the schools to address the educational, cultural and social barriers that affect the Roma.

Europe’s 10-12 million Roma are its largest ethnic minority and some of its poorest and most marginalized citizens. Throughout Greece, many Roma families live in shacks constructed from rubbish that lack electricity and running water, squatting in shantytowns on public land until forcibly evicted.

“For Europe, it’s pretty disturbing,” Cope said. “It’s a very common thing in the Third World but not very common in Europe. It’s a very bad situation, so this project is trying to address this. The issues are specific and unusual, but they’re also universal.”

The European Union estimates that less than half of Roma children finish primary school, and just 10 percent attend secondary school. As many as a third of Roma children never receive any formal education, and many adults, particularly those in nomadic clans, are illiterate or functionally illiterate.

At school, Roma children often face language barriers, social rejection by peers and their families, and segregation within classrooms or schools, or incorrect assignment to special education programs that limit their learning opportunities. Poverty and nomadic lifestyles saddle Roma children with learning deficits that teachers and the educational system lack the training, time and flexibility to address.

“What this project does, which is unusual, is it takes the principals and the teachers into these communities to get to know the humanity of the Roma people,” Kalantzis said. “On common ground, it becomes a very different kind of relationship. They put a social worker/psychologist and an educator in every one of the Roma communities, and together with the community leaders organize transport of the children to school. They also give a lot of assistance to the families, especially the women, to help them value formal education and support the children in attending school.”

Social workers, in conjunction with facilitators in the Roma communities, monitor children’s progress and address obstacles that might impede their school attendance, such as transportation. Getting children to school is a significant problem for many families since Roma often live in isolated settlements, and Greece lacks both public transit and school bus systems.

The project is addressing issues of discrimination and stigmatization through cultural diversity training and professional development opportunities for teachers and school officials, including workshops on pedagogical issues, classroom management and teaching Greek as a second language. Adult Literacy Centers have been opened to help Roma youth and adults earn school certificates and tackle barriers to employment.

Cope and Kalantzis, who are marital as well as research partners, became involved early on and collaborated on the project framework. This summer, they conducted site visits at three disparate Roma communities to evaluate the initiative’s effectiveness midway through the program, gather stakeholders’ perspectives and provide critical feedback.

“The Roma men said that this project mattered to their community, and then they’d explain why in these economic terms,” Kalantzis said. “For the men it was this economic imperative – their survival in a Greece that’s now in financial collapse.”

One of the researchers’ recommendations – and their emphasis during the next project phase – will be helping teachers learn how to use multimedia tools to achieve their instructional goals, reach students who may be unable or unwilling to attend schools and offer new learning strategies.

“New technology allows you an opportunity to reach people in a way you couldn’t before,” Kalantzis said. “You’d be surprised at how many of them were able to access a computer or had a mobile phone. And if they’re not going to go to a regular school because of the prejudice and the difficulties, the new technology offers the possibility of taking learning to them and taking community to them. And funding a bunch of computers in a community resource center is a lot cheaper than building a school.”

Telling stories using video, music or other new media can strengthen children’s literacy skills by integrating their existing knowledge and life experiences in ways that seem “more dynamic, exciting and relevant” than conventional literacy activities, Cope said.

The researchers plan to return to northern Greece for site visits at other Roma communities, although a date has not been set.

“For us, as educators, every one of these sites matters,” Kalantzis added. “How do you get engagement? Teach language? Deal with prejudice? These are things that we as educators deal with all the time in different contexts. These are just the hardest of contexts, which test your expertise and can be very heartbreaking.

“We’ve been doing this work now for over 25 years. We’re committed to making a difference in the most difficult communities because if you don’t do that, it’s a blight on everybody’s aspirations.”

Cope is a faculty member in the department of education policy, organization and leadership, which is a unit in the College of Education at Illinois. Kalantzis is a faculty member in the department of curriculum and instruction as well as dean of the college.

The couple recently released both a Web-based multimedia environment for literacy activities called Scholar and a new book, titled “Literacies” (Cambridge University Press, 2012), which explores the use of new media in literacy instruction.

Photo of Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis by L. Brian Stauffer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Comparative regional integration: the EU and Latin America in the time of crisis

On September 28, Joaquín Roy, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Director of University of Miami European Union Center and Co-Director of the Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence, delivered a lecture entitled "Comparative regional integration: the EU and Latin America in the time of crisis". Dr. Roy's lecture is part of the European Union Center's EUCE Director Lecture Series. You can watch his full lecture below or by clicking here:

Joaquín Roy is Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Director of University of Miami European Union Center and Co-Director of the Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence. He received his law degree from the University of Barcelona and his doctorate from Georgetown University. He was previously on the faculty of the School of International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University and of Emory University. His research and teaching areas are the history of political ideas, Latin American thought, intellectual history and literature, contemporary ideologies, regional integration, transitions to democracy, and human rights policies. His regional focus is the European Union, and European-Latin American relations, and on Cuba, Argentina, Spain, and Central America. Dr. Roy has published over 200 academic articles and reviews, and he is the author, editor, or co-editor of 25 books, among them The Reconstruction of Central America: the Role of the European Community (North-South Center, 1991), The Ibero-American Space/ El Espacio Iberoamericano (U.Miami/University of Barcelona, 1996), Cuba, the U.S. and the Helms-Burton Doctrine: International Reactions (University of Florida Press, 2000), Las relaciones exteriores de la Unión Europea (México: UNAM, 2001), Retos de la integración regional: Europa y América (México: UNAM, 2003), La Unión Europea y el TLCAN (México: UNAM, 2004), The European Union and Regional Integration (Miami: EU Center, 2005), La Unión Europea y la integración regional (Buenos Aires: CARI/ U. Tres de Febrero, 2005), Towards the Completion of Europe (Miami: EU Center, 2006) and A Historical Dictionary of the European Union (Scarecrow Press / Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). He has also published over 1,300 columns and essays in newspapers and magazines. Among his awards is the Encomienda of the Order of Merit bestowed by King Juan Carlos of Spain.


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