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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

1914 Revisited? The EU-US-Russian Triangle

The European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh held a roundtable discussion entitled "1914 Revisted? The EU-US-Russian Triangle" as part of their Conversations on Europe series on  October 21, 2014. The EUC had one panelist participate in this discussion -- Mark Steinberg, Professor of History at the University of Illinois. The other panelists who participated were Carol Saivetz (Harvard); Gregor Thum (University of Pittsburgh); Frank Furedi (author of First World War: Still No End in Sight); and Andrew Konitzer (University of Pittsburgh).

From the abstract for the roundtable:
The centenary anniversary of the Great War has invited numerous  commentators to make comparisons between the events leading up to the outbreak of war in 1914 and the current Ukrainian Crisis. This session of the EUCE’s virtual roundtable series asks experts to comment on these comparisons. Can we learn anything about effective conflict prevention from that earlier period? Or are such comparisons too facile, and deceptive? 

The video can be viewed on YouTube or below:


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Five Faculty Members Named CIC-ALP Fellows

This blog was originally published on the Illinois News Bureau webpage on November 6, 2014.
George Czapar is an EUC-affiliated faculty member.

Five U. of I. faculty members have been named 2014-15 fellows of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s Academic Leadership Program.

The program provides leadership development for accomplished faculty members who are interested in learning more about academic administration. It is designed to introduce faculty members to issues and challenges in higher education and offers them opportunities to meet with leaders at CIC member institutions. Fellows are selected by each CIC campus; the CIC comprises the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago.

“The CIC Academic Leadership Program is a great development program,” said Elabbas Benmamoun, the vice provost for faculty affairs and academic policies and the campus CIC liaison. “The selected fellows, who come from different colleges on campus, get the opportunity to interact with each other and with more than 60 peers from across the CIC.

“In addition to on-campus meetings, the fellows attend seminars covering various topics at the forefront of higher education, such as affordability and access, diversity, globalization, budgeting and public engagement,” he said. “The fellows learn from experienced and effective leaders from various CIC institutions, and hear their insights about leading their complex organizations and dealing with different types of challenges. The feedback we consistently get from former fellows is that the experience was valuable and enriching. Some of our former fellows have gone on to become leaders on our own campus and at other universities.”

This year’s fellows:
Carla E. Cáceres is the director of the School of Integrative Biology and a professor of animal biology at the U. of I. Her research is focused at the interface of population, community and evolution ecology, and addresses questions such as how biodiversity influences community assembly and the spread of infectious diseases. In addition to her research funding from the National Science Foundation, she also is a co-principal investigator on two NSF training grants, one for graduate students (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) and one for undergraduate students (BioMath). She has been recognized for excellence in both research and teaching, including a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the Lynn M. Martin Award for Distinguished Women Teachers.  She earned her B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University.  She joined the U. of I. faculty in 2001.

George F. Czapar is an associate dean and the director of U. of I. Extension and a professor of crop sciences. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in agronomy from the U. of I. and his Ph.D. in agronomy from Iowa State University. His research and Extension programs focused on interdisciplinary projects that address the environmental impacts of agriculture. He also teaches in the Campus Honors Program. He led a Strategic Research Initiative in water quality for the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) and helped establish the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (C-BMP). He previously was the director of the Center for Watershed Science at the Illinois State Water Survey at the Prairie Research Institute and water quality coordinator for U. of I. Extension. Czapar received the Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement and the Award for Excellence in Teaching and Outreach from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Jan Erkert is the head of the department of dance at the U. of I. As artistic director of Jan Erkert and Dancers from 1979-2000, she created more than 70 works that toured nationally and internationally. Erkert and company have been honored with numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Ruth Page Awards for choreography and performance. She has received a Fulbright Scholar Award and is serving on the Fulbright Review Panel. She wrote “Harnessing the Wind: The Art of Teaching Modern Dance,” which was published in 2003, and she has been a master teacher at universities and colleges throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia.  As a professor of dance at Columbia College Chicago from 1990-2006, she garnered many awards including the 1999 Excellence in Teaching Award, and she was a nominee for the U.S. Professor of the Year sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation.

Kevin T. Pitts is a professor of physics at Illinois. He earned his Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Oregon and after a postdoctoral position at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, moved to the U. of I. in 1999. Pitts has been active in high-energy physics research at Fermilab continually since 1994. His research thrust has been heavy-flavor physics and Higgs boson searches with the CDF Experiment operating at the Fermilab Tevatron. Pitts was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy Outstanding Junior Investigator Award in 2002, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2004, a Xerox Award for Outstanding Research in 2007, and was named a University Scholar in 2013. Pitts is now a member of the Muon g-2 experiment, which is slated to run at Fermilab later this decade. As an educator, Pitts has developed a number of new courses aimed at teaching physics and critical thinking to nonscientists. He received the Arnold Nordseick Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014. Pitts served as the associate head for undergraduate programs in physics from 2010-14 and became the associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering in 2014.

Michaelene M. Ostrosky is a Goldstick Family Scholar and the head of the department of special education in the College of Education. She has a strong track record of grant management, scholarly activity and student mentorship. Since arriving at the U. of I. in 1991, Ostrosky has been the principal investigator or co-PI on research, training and technical assistance, leadership and personnel preparation grants totaling more than $20 million. Additionally, she has mentored more than 30 doctoral students, and she has received college and campus awards for her teaching and research. Ostrosky has been involved in research and dissemination on inclusive education, social interaction interventions, social emotional competence and challenging behavior. As a former editor of the Division for Early Childhood’s practitioner journal, Young Exceptional Children, Ostrosky has much experience translating research into user-friendly materials for practitioners. Her more than 100 publications are evidence of her scholarly and applied work, particularly with preschool-age children with disabilities and their families.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Uploading, Downloading, & Reloading EU Policies: Angela Merkel's Efforts to Europeanize a Sustainable Energy Turn-Around

Joyce Mushaben, professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, gave a lecture entitled "Uploading, Downloading, & Reloading EU Policies: Angela Merkel's Efforts to Europeanize a Sustainable Energy Turn-Around" on October 24, 2014 as a part of the EUC's lecture series.

From Dr. Mushaben's abstract:
European integration owes much to the formal as well as informal "downloading" of  Community values and binding operational concepts. Despite its ongoing democratic deficits, the integration process also gratns individual member states many opportunities for "uploading" benchmarks, indicators and best practices, e.g., by way of expert committees and national “personnel loans” to the relevant DGs. Angela Merkel’s performance at the 2007 G-8 Summit  at Heiligendamm earned her the title of “Climate Chancellor” well before other leaders were willing to put global warming and sustainable energy policies on the international agenda. Jettisoning an SPD-Green decision to cap the life-span of the country’s nuclear plants by 2020 when she was re-elected in 2009, Merkel reversed course 180-degrees following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi melt-down, dramatically accelerating Germany's own Energy Turn-around. By 2012, Germany had exceeded several EU 2020 targets, while also creating 1.8 million green-technology jobs.  It therefore has a solid stake in compelling other member-states to follow its lead. This paper argues that while Merkel’s  “visibility” as a mover-and-shaker in the Euro-crisis has impeded her ability to take an obvious lead in the EU energy field, the last ten years do provide evidence of a substantial amount of  “policy uploading” by Germany,  especially in relation to tougher GHG emissions standards  and  accelerated renewable energy adoption on the part of other  member-states.

A video of the lecture is available to view in the EUC's video library or below:


Value Clash Redux: The Revival of Normative Politics in the EU's Relations with Russia?

On October 3, 2014, Joan DeBardeleben, director of Carleton Univerisity's European Union Centre of Excellence, gave a lecture entitled "Value Clash Redux: The Revival of Normative Politics in the EU's Relations with Russia?" as part of the EUCE Directors Lecture series.

Dr. DeBardeleben's abstract:
To what degree are tensions between the EU and Russia rooted in  a clash of basic political values, or do  they have more to with differing economic and geopolitical interests?  In recent years the EU has toned down its efforts to export its political values to Russia, as its normative agenda took a back seat to energy security and economics interests; at the same time  Russia  also took a more pragmatic approach to its relations with the West. The speaker explores why, nonetheless,  ‘value clash’ now seems to have  reemerged between the EU and Russia, whether the EU’s  own policies  may have contributed to this shift, and what can be done about it.

A video of the lecture is available to view in the EUC's video library or below:


Monday, November 3, 2014

Studying the EU at a Distance

This blog was originally posted to the European Voice on October 16, 2014.

by Ian Mundell

Students as far afield as the United States and New Zealand are keeping a close eye on developments in the European Union.

Europe would appear to be the natural home for anyone interested in EU studies, yet there are plenty of academics around the world who study Europe from a distance. There are even students who leave Europe in order to get a better perspective on European Union affairs.

“The great advantage is to know how a world power like the United States views Europe,” says Ilias Bolaris, who studied political science and public administration in Athens, then law in Nicosia, before joining the EU studies master’s programme at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I believe this is a clearer and much more objective view, far from national versus supranational political debates or the narrow regionalist or nationalistic prejudices evident, for example, in how German elites describe the current situation in the Mediterranean countries.”

And if going west involves a crash course in US politics, then so much the better, says Simone Kaiser, who came to Illinois after studying conference interpreting in Graz, Austria. “Studying the EU in the US has the nice side-effect of learning a lot about the American political system, US institutions and policies, especially in such diverging areas as social and labour policy, environmental standards and government.”

Both students started out with personal connections that planted the seed of studying in the US, but the final decision was strategic.
“I would not have enrolled in any other programme,” says Kaiser, “and would most probably not have moved to the US at all, but would have decided to try my luck at the concours for the EU’s conference-interpreting service instead.”

European studies master’s degrees in the US often take an area-studies approach, covering the history, politics, cultures and languages of the region in a way that is broader than programmes in Europe. Illinois is something of an exception, offering a master’s degree that deals explicitly with the European Union, covering its history, institutions, governance and policies. Even so, there are differences.

“Naturally we are interested particularly in the transatlantic relationship, as opposed merely to having interest in the internal dynamics of Europe or European integration,” says Matt Rosenstein, director of graduate studies at the university’s European Union Center. “We also approach EU studies in a comparative way, quite possibly with greater emphasis on this approach than a student might be exposed to in Europe.” Federalism, for example, might be examined in both the EU and US contexts.

View from New Zealand
 The benefits of a different perspective also apply in New Zealand. “The external perception of the EU can be quite different – and sometimes more benign – from internal perspectives,” explains Martin Holland, director of the National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury. “Students interested in the EU’s global policies, such as development or CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] or in the concept of ‘normative power Europe’, have the advantage of seeing at first-hand how far the EU’s message is being heard – or ignored – outside the EU28.”

This external perspective is built into the centre’s undergraduate and graduate EU studies programmes. “Topics that might seem to be simply internal EU questions – agriculture or the eurozone, for example – are additionally explored from an external perspective: how do these policies have an impact on our region?” Holland says.

As in the US, local comparisons are important. For example, when talking about Europe’s approach to integration, it is useful to look for parallels in ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

So far most of the centre’s international students have come in at the PhD level, both from the EU and its neighbours and from Asia. But Holland hopes that will change. “We are just about to launch a new taught one-year master’s degree on the EU in the Asia-Pacific, and are hopeful that this will prove to be an innovative and attractive option for EU-based students.”

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