Originally founded in 1998 with the support of the European Union, in 2010 the UI European Union Center became the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere to offer a graduate degree in European Union Studies. Led by Professor A. Bryan Endres, Dr. Matt Rosenstein, and Dr. Sebnem Ozkan, the EU Center has organized an interdisciplinary network of University of Illinois faculty and research centers to expand outreach and course development related to EU Studies across the UI campus. The EU Center at Illinois is both a National Resource Center supported by a US Department of Education Title VI grant, and a European Union Center of Excellence funded by the European Union.
The EU Center at UI was one of four institutions in the US to receive a Jean Monnet grant from the European Union in the 2013 worldwide competition, and the only domestic one to garner a European Module Award. Named for one of the architects of the European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner to the EU, the Jean Monnet Lifelong Learning Programme aims to stimulate specialized teaching, research, and reflection on European integration in institutions of higher education around the globe.
The 21,000 euro (approximately $28,000) award will fund a new project hosted by the European Union Center entitled, “Eastern Europe and EU Integration.” The project will feature a new, team-taught course intended for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, which will present Western and Eastern Europe as interdependent, multicultural, and multinational spaces historically linked through cultural, political, and migratory networks. Interdisciplinary in nature, the course will engage students in European Union studies, political science, Slavic languages and literatures, sociology, anthropology, history, and other fields. The project is also intended to reach audiences beyond the bounds of UI. The EU Center will host lectures by academic experts and policy officials, and workshops for regional educators. In addition, a public project website featuring webcasts of lectures and course materials will be a globally accessible resource.
The project will be coordinated and carried out by a diverse team of faculty. Zsuzsa Gille, Associate Professor of Sociology, specializes in transnational sociology with a focus on the European Union and postsocialist countries of Eastern Europe. Carol Leff, Associate Professor of Political Science, is an expert on government and policy in Eastern Europe during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. David Cooper, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center, will lend his expertise in Czech culture and history. George Gasyna, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and in the Program in Comparative and World Literature, will bring knowledge of Polish culture, history, and immigration to the project.
Additional programs provided by the project will include a session on the integration of Eastern Europe into the European Union at the EU Center’s annual Working Conference for Regional College Faculty, as well as a Summer Curriculum Development Workshop for K-12 teachers focused on the project theme. A link to the project’s public website, and more information about these events and the aforementioned lecture series, will be provided on the EU Center website (http://www.euc.illinois.edu).