EU Day

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, July 16, 2013

“Wait and See” vs. “Try and See”: the Transatlantic Debate Over GMOs

by Brent Rosenstein

When it comes to highly controversial, hot button issues in the transatlantic relationship, crops may not be the first topic that springs into one’s head. Nevertheless, the creation and sale of genetically modified crops, especially those intended for human consumption or animal feed, remains a major point of contention between the United States and the European Union. As Professor Gerhart Ryffel pointed out in a lecture he gave at the University of Illinois on April 24th, this stems largely from diverging cultural approaches to the issue.
When discussing this matter, Professor Ryffel said that Europeans, who, in general, remain staunchly opposed to the sale of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), have adopted a “Wait and See” approach to modified crops. That is, they tend to prohibit the development and usage of GMOs unless it can be proved that they are entirely safe. The US, by contrast, has taken what Ryffel refers to as a “Try and See” approach, meaning that they tend to experiment with GMOs and see what happens. This is, in essence, a more colloquial way of describing the US’ position of “Sound Science” and the EU’s position of the “Precautionary Principle”.1 Assessing the cultural causes and implications of these labels could easily be a thesis or dissertation unto itself. However, one aspect of this dichotomy that does not seem to be addressed nearly as often is the question of whether these labels are really appropriate at all.

Some scholars have argued that the contrast between the “Precautionary Principle” and “Sound Science” has more or less become a stereotype that oversimplifies the true number of positions and the complexity of the issue.2 There is almost certainly something to this, as no groups can really be as homogenous as these are often portrayed as being. As a simple example, it has been noted that in the case of the EU, the European Commission tends to be in favor of opening the single market to GMOs, and it is the European public that provides the primary opposition.3 On the other hand, for a topic as large and controversial as GMOs, a certain degree of oversimplification is unfortunately necessary, otherwise it would be far too complex for reasonable public debate to be possible. Granted, a more nuanced and informed debate is always better, but the extent of this should be determined by the level of debate (i.e. public, academic, policy making, etc.)

In any case, there is one voice that often gets drowned out in these debates: the scientists actively conducting the research into the effects of genetically modifying organisms. As was pointed out in Professor Ryffel’s lecture, while scientific studies are often cited, by one side the other, the cited studies are at times heavily biased and/or of suspect credibility. It seems that for a scientific issue, the findings of the scientific community involved should have a larger impact than the politics of the matter.

Brent Rosenstein is a first year student in the Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) program at the University of Illinois. His research interests include international security efforts and human rights issues within the EU.

1Joseph Murphy, Les Levidow, and Susan Carr, “Regulatory Standards for Environmental Risks: Understanding the US-European Union Conflict over Genetically Modified Crops,” Social Studies of Science 36, no. 1 (February 1, 2006): 133. Ibid., 134.

2Ibid., 134.

3Paulette Kurzer and Alice Cooper, “Consumer Activism, EU Institutions and Global Markets: The Struggle over Biotech Foods,” Journal of Public Policy 27, no. 2 (May 1, 2007).

Photo: "Corn Field," Wikimedia Commons:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Turkey and its Black Sea Neighbors: A Common Regional Identity?

Countries of the Black Sea Region
by Allyce Husband

On April 19, 2013, University of Illinois faculty and students had the privilege of listening to Professor Ronald H. Linden present a lecture titled Turkey and its Black Sea Neighbors: Foreign Relations in an Area of Transition. According to Professor Linden, Turkey is a point of intersection for different neighborhoods in the Black Sea region1. As one of the leaders who is creating its own community and relationships in the Black Sea region, Turkey and its ties with other neighboring countries make it a case worthy of analysis. Russia, for instance, built a nuclear power plant in Turkey, despite differences in their politics toward Syria. After examining Turkey’s power and diplomatic initiatives in the Black Sea region, Professor Linden concluded that Turkey is assertive in establishing its own framework in the region2. Aside from energy dependence, there are real economic benefits, such as trade, tourism, and investment returns that can be gained by Turkey playing a stronger role in the region. While discussions about Turkey’s ascension to the European Union continue to remain stagnant, Turkey is busy building its own community. The European Union needs Turkey for several reasons, including energy. Turkey does not seem to be waiting around for the European Union to let them in and is moving forward with initiatives in its own neighborhood.

After listening to Professor Linden’s lecture, the geographical characteristics of the Black Sea region seemed similar with the Mediterranean in terms of implications for identity formation and the proximity of different histories, cultures, and customs. While the economic opportunities, possibilities for trade and energy make the Black Sea region an intriguing area, the region is also an area rich in history and culture that creates different notions of an emerging regional identity.

The Mediterranean is geographically linked and shares a common past, but each country remains diverse3. While the Mediterranean is an intersecting point for Europe and Africa, clear boundaries are established in terms of religion, culture, politics, and economics. Initiatives, such as a University exchange where students in different Mediterranean universities visit other countries, are aimed at strengthening Mediterranean identity and contributing to a sense of community in the region.

In the Black Sea region, on the other hand, individuals tend to see themselves as post- Soviet or South Eastern European, but a specific Black Sea identity is missing. The lack of regional understanding makes it difficult to acknowledge a common identity. Countries such as Romania and Moldova, however, are perceived as being close countries due to language and historical ties4. Other neighboring countries, however, possess far more differences.

A common identity contributes to problem solving and increases the possibility that countries in these regions will work together. As Turkey asserts its identity, influence, and strengthens its partnerships, it will be interesting to witness if a “Black Sea Community” with a common identity truly emerges.

Allyce Husband is a second year student in the Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) degree program at the University of Illinois. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Psychology from the University of Illinois in 2011. This summer, Allyce worked for the U.S. Department of State as an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France. As an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Florence, Italy and will be spending the fall semester abroad at the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy. Allyce was awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for Italian language study for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years. She was also awarded a summer FLAS Fellowship to study French in Paris prior to her internship. Her research interests have included immigration and the media. In her free time, Allyce loves to cook and travel.  

1Linden, R. (2013, April). Turkey and its Black Sea Neighbors: Foreign Relations in an Area of Transition. EUCE Center of Excellence Director Lecture Series. Lecture conducted from University of Illinois, Champaign, IL.

2Linden, R. (2013, April). Turkey and its Black Sea Neighbors: Foreign Relations in an Area of Transition. EUCE Center of Excellence Director Lecture Series. Lecture conducted from University of Illinois, Champaign, IL.

3The Mediterranean identity: What is it and who uses it? (n.d.) Department of Anthropology: University of Illinois. [Brochure]. Anderzon, H: Author.

4Ustun, C. (n.d.). Lack of regional understanding and of a common identity in the Black Sea region. EU 4 Seas. Retrieved from

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Trans-Atlantic Partnership in Cultural Heritage

In December 2012, the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP) and the University of Birmingham’s Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) in the United Kingdom signed a formal document of collaboration (Memorandum of Understanding/MoU), authorized by the two universities. The event took place at the University of Birmingham and included—representing UIUC—CHAMP’s director, Helaine Silverman (Anthropology), Timothy Barnes (Director, Office of Strategic Partnerships), Wayne Pitard (Director, Spurlock Museum), Paul Kapp (School of Architecture and Lynne Dearborn (School of Architecture). The Associate Director of the European Union Center, Matt Rosenstein, was unable to participate due to a winter illness.

The collaboration is conceived under the framework of “Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage.” Among the planned activities are joint workshops (the first of which was held on the UIUC campus on May 23-24, 2013 around the theme of popular culture and heritage), conferences, publications, shared museum exhibitions, and the development of teaching modules. EUC has provided funding to Helaine Silverman for a working trip this summer (June 2013) during which time she and her counterpart, Professor Mike Robinson, IIICH director, refined a study abroad program for UIUC undergraduates that will be offered in England in May 2014. While Mike Robinson was on campus in May of this year (2013) he met with Bryan Endres (EUC director) and Matt Rosenstein to discuss more ways in which IIICH and the EUC could collaborate, expanding the direct CHAMP-IIICH collaboration.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Finding a Home for Turkish Studies

by Brent Rosenstein

It is amazing how the academic studies of certain topics can become reflective of the topics themselves. For instance, it is not unknown for scholars studying particular writers to adopt distinctive elements from their subject’s style of prose. From my own experience, doing intensive research with Roman sources resulted in passive constructions (very common in Latin language works) creeping into my other writings. As Professor Ronald Linden, Director of the University of Pittsburgh's European Union Center of Excellence, pointed out at a talk he gave here on April 19th, Turkish Studies programs often have trouble finding a home in university settings, with no one really agreeing on what departments it should go along with. This is fitting, as a tremendously similar debate is ongoing as to where the country of Turkey really belongs: is it European, Middle Eastern, or something else?

Fortunately, even if only for scholars, the placement of Turkish Studies is likely an easier problem to solve than the placement of Turkey itself, although one might not think so looking at the state of the field currently. For example, searching for “Turkish Studies” in an article database yields content flagged as Middle Eastern Studies, African Studies, Jewish Studies, and Russian and East European Studies, amongst others.1 Similarly, the Turkish Studies Program here at the University of Illinois works with the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; the European Union Center; the Center for Global Studies; and the Center for business Education and Research.2 Granted, while the areas covered by these centers are by no means mutually exclusive, it shows that Turkish Studies can fall into a variety of other fields.

Examining this phenomenon leads to the ever-present academic inquiry of “Why is this important?” That is, why is it so important to try to classify Turkish Studies into one of the other area studies groupings? It seems likely that there are plenty of arguments that one could make about the bureaucratic benefits of lumping it in with one of the other area studies, or that many universities may not be able to sustain an independent Turkish Studies Program. However, from the perspective of those in the field, maintaining that level of independence may not be such a bad thing. Take, for instance, the Turkish Studies Program at Illinois, and the list of centers that it regularly works with. Perhaps there is some benefit from being able to claim affiliation with all of these groups, and not just one of them. There is certainly the infrastructural benefit of being able to more readily share resources with all of these centers, but there could also be a more intellectual aspect to this. While saying that it does not really fit in to the other area studies groupings could have a somewhat negative connotation, maybe it should be held up as a point of pride instead. Perhaps it should be a meeting ground for studies of Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the Middle East. Maybe Turkish Studies should serve as the same type of crossroads that Turkey itself does.

Brent Rosenstein is a first year student in the Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) program at the University of Illinois. His research interests include international security efforts and human rights issues within the EU.

1“Project MUSE,” accessed April 25, 2013,

2“About Turkish Studies,” accessed April 25, 2013,

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