EU Day 2017

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, December 22, 2015

Video-The Climate for Climage Change Negotiations

On December 11, 2015, the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh held a roundtable discussion entitled "The Climate for Climate Change Negotiations." Panelists included Michaël Aklin, Assistant Professor, Political Science (University of Pittsburgh), Wil Burns, Co-Executive Director, Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment (American University), Thomas Pellerin-Carlin, Research Fellow, European Energy Policy (Jacques Delors Institute), and Leah Stokes, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science (University of California, Santa Barbara). The moderator for this panel was Ron Linden.

From the description of the roundtable discussion;
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21 / CMP 11) in Paris November 30-December 11, 2015 sought to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2⁰C. This will not be an easy goal to reach, as many scientists say the gases already emitted into the atmosphere will inevitably lead to a 2 degree increase. Therefore, the largest emitters (the U.S. and China) must commit to both significant reductions and subsidizing developing countries’ commitment to sustainable energy sources. Expectations are high on all sides – with optimists and pessimists alike touting this as our last chance to avert catastrophe. This session of the European Studies Center's Conversations on Europe series of virtual roundtables assembles a panel of experts to provide their views of what was accomplished and what was lost in the negotiations. Were the dire prognostications reasonable? What are the next steps?
A video of the roundtable discussion can be viewed below or on Youtube.




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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Performing a Herculean Feat

Stefanos Katsikas, director of the Program in Modern Greek Studies,
said support for the program has come from around the world.
This article originally appeared on the College of Liberal Arts and Science website.  The article was written by Dave Evensen.

Small but vibrant Program in Modern Greek Studies at Illinois is set to expand

Financial gifts and renewed commitments of $420,000 will allow the Program in Modern Greek Studies at Illinois to offer more culture courses, develop a new academic minor and online courses, and increase international visibility and impact to improve cross-cultural understanding between the U.S. and Greece.

The additional support comes at an exciting time for the program, which has doubled student enrollments during this academic year alone and has been growing quickly in size and visibility since its establishment in 2008. In recognition of this achievement, strong endorsements for the program have come from prestigious scholars and university administrators from around the world.

Supporters of the program include the Hellenic Studies Support Network of Chicago, which pledged $180,000 over three years; the Onassis Foundation, based in Greece, which has committed $60,000 over three years; and the Houston Family Foundation, which has committed $60,000 over three years. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois has renewed its support of the program by committing $120,000 over three years for language instruction.

Additionally, the program is now included in the Onassis Foundation (USA) University Seminars Program, under which eminent scholars from the U.S. and abroad are sponsored by the Foundation to offer lectures, seminars and courses on a broad range of topics related to Hellenic civilization at selected university campuses in North and South America.

“The program is extremely grateful to our supporters whose generosity allows us to continue our mission to disseminate Hellenic education and culture on campus, in Illinois, and beyond,” said Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, director of the Program in Modern Greek Studies. “We will also keep developing cross-cultural connections with Hellenism that transform the lives of our students.”

The new support allows the program to move toward its goal of obtaining a major endowment to establish a Center for Hellenic Studies, which, if realized, would be the first such center in the Midwest. In conjunction with a new center, the program could offer new study abroad opportunities along with a new major and graduate program in Modern Greek Studies. The center would also serve as a resource for citizens of Greece, Cyprus and the U.S. to share expertise and improve cross-cultural understanding.

The Program in Modern Greek Studies currently offers courses in Modern Greek language at all levels, and collaborates with departments across campus to provide students with over 40 courses annually on the language and culture of Hellenism.

The program has also been active in outreach, having hosted more than 85 events both on and off campus since 2008, including conferences, lectures, musical performances, film screenings and two Greek Film Festivals, and a study abroad course to Cyprus.

“The Houston Family Foundation is very pleased to provide financial support to the new Greek program in addition to our ongoing scholarship program,” said Dennis Houston (BS, ’74, chemical engineering), former chairman and president of ExxonMobil Sales and Supply LLC.

“We are excited about the potential for the new Program in Modern Greek Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign,” he added. “The new program will provide valuable education and experiences to many students as they study Hellenism. Every business woman and man should ‘Become Greek Educated’ by understanding Greek culture and what it teaches.”

More details about the Program for Modern Greek Studies can be found on its new website at moderngreek.illinois.edu.
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Monday, December 14, 2015

Meet Michael Nelson, Kungstenen Scholar 2014

This article written by Helene Komlos Grill originally appeared on the Stockholm University website and was last updated on December 11.  More information about scholarship opportunities similar to Michael Nelson's are available on Stockholm University's website.   To learn more about MAEUS students, such as Michael Nelson, please visit our webpage on the European Union Center website.

We talked to Michael Nelson, an M.A. student in European Union Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who currently studies at Stockholm University thanks to the Kungstenen Scholarship awarded to him in 2014. 

I am doing a Master's in International and Comparative Education. I chose this program because I was always interested in education but never had the chance to formally study it. After getting some work experience related to international education through jobs at the University of Illinois and an internship in Belgium, I thought I had developed a foundation of practical knowledge that could be complimented by academic study.

 Since I envision myself working in higher education administration, I thought I would focus my Master's studies around the topic of educational leadership and management. In some ways I did, but I ultimately decided to research the impact of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine on local university students for my Master's thesis. I think that goes to show that your research interests will change and evolve as you work with your classmates and professors on a wide variety of topics.

 High proficiency of English in Sweden 
It fascinates me that I have been able to do a Master's degree program taught in English in a non-native English speaking country. Prospective American students should know that the level of proficiency of English in Sweden is almost at a native level. I have written several course papers here, and I really feel that I have such an advantage over some other students because I am a native English speaker. Still, my writing skills in English have improved due to the high expectations of my professors. I've observed that professors here expect even more from students' written assignments than American professors, so I have still been able to further develop my critical reasoning and writing skills. 

Challenging and rewarding academics 

Studying at Stockholm University has been a wonderful experience. As one of the top 100 universities in the world, the academics here are challenging and rewarding. I feel well-prepared for my future, whether I apply for jobs or to doctoral studies. It has been exciting to learn some Swedish, but everyone can speak English here, making it an easy adjustment for American students. I've been able to experience Swedish culture, ranging from daily fika breaks to ice skating at Kungsträdgården. 

A pleasant place to live 
Stockholm is a really pleasant place to live. I notice it most with my health, as here I definitely spend more time outside getting fresh air, and get more exercise from walking around and exploring. This is an international city full of people from different backgrounds, so I constantly meet new people with interesting stories to share. That also means there is a wide variety of tasty food! Finally, there is always something going on here, like concerts from every popular singer or band you could ever want to see. 



Making friends from around the world 
One last thought: I will really cherish the friendships I've made in Stockholm. I imagined that I would make a lot of Swedish friends, but I never knew that actually I would be making friends from around the world. Already, I have travelled to new friends' home countries because of the relationships I've made in Stockholm (not to mention all of the cheap flights and ferries available from Stockholm to other countries). I feel confident that my friendships made here will be lifelong. Tusen tack for this amazing experience!

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Greeks from Agamemnon to Alexander the Great-A Private Viewing at the Field Museum, Chicago

Photos by Lindsay Ozburn
On Friday, December 4th, Lindsay Ozburn, a Master's student with the European Union Center at the University of Illinois, attended a private viewing of the Field Museum’s new exhibit, "The Greeks: from Agamemnon to Alexander the Great". This special showing was a fundraising event for the Modern Greek Studies Program , also at U of I, in an effort to share the beauty of ancient Greek culture to the Midwest and garner support for the continuation and advancement of the program. Modern Greek Studies Program Director Dr. Stefanos Katsikas announced the successful establishment of an undergraduate minor, as well as his campaign for the establishment of undergraduate and graduate degrees in Hellenic Studies. The establishment of such programs would offer more study abroad opportunities, internships, and inter-University cooperation. The overwhelming support and attendance of more than 200 donors, drawing from Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni, the Greek-American community in Chicago, friends of the MGS program, as well as distinguished guest Greek Consul General in Chicago Polyxeni Petropoulou, highlighted the positive impact the program’s wonderful accomplishments which have helped connect the Greek-American community and its supporters throughout the Midwest.

This fascinating and unique exhibit features over 500 artifacts from 21 National Museums in Greece, including many pieces that have never before left the country. One of the exhibition project managers, Susan Neill, described it as the largest exhibition of ancient Greek culture in North America in twenty-five years. Organized into six ‘zones’, the exhibit takes you on a chronological journey of development in Greek history, from roughly 6500 B.C.E up to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.E. The first zones set the stage for the rest of the exhibit, showing the development of Greek culture, trade, war, and its decline.

Figure 1: Golden Roundels

What differentiates this exhibit from others is its focus on the individual. While some are not known by name, guests can see how ancient Greek citizens were represented in death. Glimpsing at the treasures within their tombs, one can see what was most important to them during their lifetime and how they wished to be remembered. This allows a more personable encounter, rather than simply looking at artifacts outside of the scope of everyday life in ancient Greece. A highlight of this experience includes a glimpse into a priestess’s burial, who was covered in over 200 stunning golden roundels. While this exhibit features only a fraction of those gold pieces, they were nevertheless stunning. The very delicate, intricate detailing on every piece exemplifies this priestess’s importance in life and in death, as well as the pride ancient Greek craftsmen and women took in their work.

An additional highlight is the interactive nature of the exhibit. While guests cannot touch the original artifacts, there are plenty of replicas available that allow guests to step back in time and experience the materials used in crafting and the intricate carvings created by skillful hands. The curators also employ the use of videos to transport viewers into the tombs in which many artifacts were discovered. One of these videos incorporates a touch screen that helps guests explore the façade of Phillip II’s tomb.

Figure 2, Funeral Mask, "First" Mask of Agamemnon

One of Lindsay's favorite exhibits were the golden masks of Agamemnon – not just because of their beauty, but because of the slightly comical story of their discovery. The first mask associated with the mythological Agamemnon was discovered around the 1870s in Mycenae. However, shortly after this, a second funeral mask was discovered that, due to its splendor, became known as what we now consider the official mask of Agamemnon. Their presence at the Field museum particularly special, as the first funeral mask has never left Greece and the replica of the second mask is highly prized. Some other notable artifacts include the second bust of Alexander the Great, a very unique boar tusk helmet, and many delicately-painted amphorae depicting scenes from Homer’s Iliad.

Figure 3, Mask of Agamemnon (replica)
Connected by thought, religion, athleticism, and democratic practice, the exhibit is highly recommended. It is unique that so many precious artifacts were allowed out of their homes to be enjoyed in Chicago. The sheer volume of artifacts makes it impossible to get through in just one visit. “If something catches your eye”, says Neill, “follow it.” The items that surprise you will be worth an second look, such as the tools of democracy used to select people for jury service. Do so every time you visit the exhibit, and you will be sure to have a unique, captivating experience every time.

Designed to bring people together and transcend boundaries, the exhibit is the product of four North American museums collaborating with their Greek partners. After spending several weeks at the Field Museum, it will travel to Washington, D.C. to be on display at the National Geographic Museum.

Lindsay Ozburn is a graduate student in the European Union Studies Program, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow in Modern Greek, and is also perusing a minor in Cultural Heritage Management through the U of I’s CHAMP program.
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Monday, December 7, 2015

A Night of Cultural Exploration

Photo by Raphaela Berding
By Raphaela Berding


On December 6, the European Union Center contributed to “A Night of Cultural Exploration” at Clark-Lindsey Village. Students of the Recreation, Sport, and Tourism program at the University of Illinois organized the event to create a unique experience for the community of Clark-Lindsey Village which is home to former University of Illinois professors and alumni.

Raphaela Berding, a German student in the Master of Arts in European Union Studies program and the German Club at Parkland Community College organized a Saint Nicholas themed performance as the day of the event was the feast day of Saint Nicholas. This day is especially celebrated in Germany to remember Nicholas’ reputation as a gift bringer for the poor. The Clark-Lindsey residents were engaged in this part on the German culture.  In order to serve the purpose of Saint Nicholas day, to announce the Christmas time, three German Christmas songs were sung.

The European Union Center was happy to be able to contribute to the event and thereby show how culturally diverse the European Union is. Thanks to the many European students currently enrolled in the program, the EUC can experience Europe’s cultural diversity from first hand experience.
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rescue & Prevent: Responses to Europe's Migration Crisis (VIDEO)

The University of Pittsburgh's European Studies Center holds videoconferences every semester, and the EU Center at the University of Illinois co-sponsors these events.  The EUC hosts an event space for these live conferences, and details about these videoconference locations can be found on the EUC's calendar.

On Tuesday, November 17 the EUC co-sponsored the Dialogue on Europe Videoconference organized by the European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Joanna Kakissis, foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, Andrea Segre, sociologist and documentary filmmaker, Martin Xuereb, director of Migrant Offshore Aid Station, and Alessandro Bertani, Vice President of the organization “Emergency” participated in the panel and discussed Europe’s migrant crisis.

 The conference began with a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Then Dr. Ronald Linden, director of the European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh, in his introductory statement addressed some of the complicated questions raised by the Paris’ events and began the discussion with the panelists. Various topics were addressed, such as the influence of the media on citizens regarding the refugees and the lack of cooperation between EU countries.

 Towards the end of the videoconference the audience had the chance to ask questions to the panelists. Given the size of the audience and the number of questions they asked it shows that the people in the US are also concerned about what is happening in Europe.

The next and last videoconference for this semester will take place on December 11. This conversation will concern the Paris Climate Talks that will be ongoing at that time.

The videoconference can be viewed below, or at the University of Pittsburgh's youtube page by clicking here:


Article by: Raphaela Berding


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Monday, November 30, 2015

Angela Merkel: A Pastor’s Daughter in a “Difficult Fatherland” -- Reconciling East and West German Identities

Image courtesy of Metropolico
On November 9th 2015, The European Union Center sponsored a lecture by Joyce Marie Mushaben titled "Angela Merkel: A Pastor’s Daughter in a “Difficult Fatherland” -- Reconciling East and West German Identities."  Joyce Mushaben works at the University of Missouri - St. Louis as Curators' Professor and Research Fellow in the Center for International Studies.  

Angela Merkel is undoubtedly one of the most significant figures of the European landscape in the last decade. Hailing from East Germany and born in 1954, she has gone through some of the most important changes of her country and the entirety of Europe since WWII. Perhaps the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the USSR represented a victory for “western” ideals and society. The clear contrast between East and West Germany, however, did not necessarily end up easily merging together on the same path, and the unification of the two Germanies was often disregarded as an improvement on many issues.

In the eyes of German people, the images of West German police forces beating demonstrators in 1968 events were still clear; there were also clear differences between East and West in social policies aimed to protect women rights, such as rights to abortion or child-care. All this contributed to conflicting views, reinforcing the idea that not all of East Germany practices were deplorable.

Angela Merkel understood that it was necessary to open a debate on it, that it was necessary to cease the exclusive reference to West German values as the leading ones. Merkel became the minister of women’s affairs and was able to bring together eastern and western standards in a time when women’s conditions were still different. She established integration policies and programs, trying to improve the labor force and further unifying the country. She referred to immigration not as a plague, but as a normal component of a country’s political existence.

What emerged from Prof. Mushaben’s lecture was an insightful image of the Chancellor of Germany, a contextual picture of politics, history and social awareness.

By: Carlo Di-Giulio
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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 

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

 Eligibility:
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: studyabroad.illinois.edu
Contact us: sao-europe@illinois.edu

Further Resources: 

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



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Monday, November 9, 2015

European Union Studies Conference 2015-16

Image from October 30th roundtable preceding the EU Studies Conference
This article was written by Raphaela Berding, a MAEUS student and graduate assistant at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign European Union Center.  Here, she recounts the experience of the 2015-16 EU Studies Conference sponsored by the EU Center. For more information on this event, please visit the conference's webpage.  

It was not easy for Anna Stenport, Director of the European Union Center at the University of Illinois, to open this year's EU Center’s working conference.  However, this was not a bad thing. Pre-discussion exchanges were very engaging among the 33 participants of the conference “Researching and Teaching the EU: Best Practices and Current Trends in EU Scholarship."These participants came together in the Illini Union on Saturday, October 31, to present their research and share their knowledge on topics relevant to the EU.

After saying some introductory words, Anna Stenport gave the floor to the new Associate Director of the EU Center, Maxime Larivé.  Maxime introduced himself and thanked the EUC staff for its support before introducing the first Panel of the conference “Impact and Effectiveness of EU Institutions and Policy Instruments.”  David Cleeton (Economics, Illinois States University), Serpil Kahraman (Economics, Yasar University, Turkey), and Paskal Zhelev (International Economic Relations and Business, University of National and World Economy, Bulgaria) presented their research on economic issues of the EU.  They addressed topics such as the EU impact on regional financial inequality in Turkey's banking system and the results of EU membership for one of the poorest member states of the EU, Bulgaria.

The second panel, “Impact and Effectiveness of EU Policies,” addressed topics regarding labor, environment, and society in the EU.  Juan Ramon Rivera Sanchez (Law, Alicante University, Spain) gave a proposal about Social Clause on TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), Jeanie Bukowski (International Studies, Bradley University) was especially happy to present her research to a group of interested people with her presentation "A New Water Culture on the Iberian Peninsula? Evaluating Epistemic Community Impact on Policy Change.”  The last speaker of the second panel, Elza Ibroschewa (Mass Communications, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), discussed the portrayal of Bulgarian women in advertising and the impact of EU regulations on it.

Another highlight of this year’s conference was the keynote address by Michael McGowan, former Member of Parliament and British journalist.  His visit to UIUC's campus was organized by the EU Center. In his address, he shared stories about his time as an active politician and achievements of the EU. He highlighted that the EU has managed to cooperate within the Union and outside of it, and the EU Parliament has made a contribution to dealing with the world. Since he was the former President of the Development and Co-operation Committee of the European Parliament, he passionately spoke about the contribution of the EU with regards to the development of the third world.  He also expressed that this was an important endeavor of the EU. Towards the end of his address he tried to answer a question about where the European Union was going. He warned the participants that it was important to move away from the arrogance of the West.  He also stressed that the European Union needs to learn how to cooperate not only with people holding the same views but also with people who have different and opposing views. McGowan sees this as a way forward for the EU. He closed his address by expressing his positive impression of the experiences he has had while being on UIUC campus and at the EU Center. He was impressed by the diversity and research of the people on campus, saying that it was a great method for tackling problems.

McGowan’s keynote address was before the last and third panel, “EU Governance an EU as a Global Actor.”  Aaron Russell Martin (Political Science, Loyola University Chicago) presented a theory discussed in his dissertation,“Party Group Switching in the European Parliament: Developing a Multi-Level Theory.” After Martin, Kolja Raube (Centre for European Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium)  presented “Interparliamentary Cooperation in EU External Action."  Closing that panel, Maxime Larivé presented “Doing Global Research on Perception: The Misunderstood Partner," and this presentation discussed ways to clarify the perception of the European Union in the US and what the EU can learn from the way Americans think about their Atlantic neighbor.

After a short break, the panels and conference were closed by a roundtable discussion on “Strategies for Teaching in the EU” and closing remarks. The EU Center was delighted by the fruitful and interesting talks and presentations at the conference. The EU Center would also like to extend their gratitude to all the participants for their contributions!


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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Video: Roundtable: Testing the Limits of the EU: Greece, the economy and refugee crises

On October 30, 2015, the EU Center held a Roundtable Discussion concerning Greece, the economy, and the refugee crisis.  The European Union Center sponsors and co-sponsors many events similar to this.  To look at upcoming EUC events, please visit our calendar.

Discussing and understanding pertinent issues in the European Union today is a step in the right direction for developing solutions.  The European Union Center hosted a roundtable discussion that provided an environment of learning and questioning.

Panel members of this discussion included: Stefanos Katsikas, Director of Modern Greek Studies, School of Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics (SLCL), University of Illinois; Benjamin Lough, Social Work, University of Illinois; Michael McGowan, Former MEP (Member of the European Parliament) and British Journalist; Kolja Raube, Visiting Scholar, European Union Center, University of Illinois, Centre for European Studies, Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU-Leuven; Marina Terkourafi, Linguistics, University of Illinois; and moderator Anna Westerstahl Stenport, Director of the European Union Center, Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois.

The roundtable and Mr. McGowan's visit are organized by the European Union Center.  Generous support for Mr. Michael McGowan’s visit is also provided by the European Parliament Former Members Association through its "EP to Campus” programme, which is in part sponsored by CANDRIAM.  The European Union Center is a National Resource Center, funded through a US Department of Education Title VI grant, and a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence funded through the European Union.  The EUC is also funded in part by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the Delegation of the EU to the US.

To learn more about the discussion, please watch the video below or watch it in a different window


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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

EU Luncheon

This article originally appeared on the Illinois State University's Department of Politics and Government website . The article was written by Arafat Kabir, and it was published on November 1st.  All photos used in this re-presentation of the original article are from the original article.  The European Union Center at the University of Illinois attends events such as this one to engage in learning about the issues and concerns of the European Union. 

How is the European Union (EU) commonly viewed in the United States? How efficiently does the union of 28 European countries function? Is there anything that the United States can learn from the European Union? These were some of the questions raised and discussed at a luncheon hosted by the Department of Politics and Government on October 28.

 The round-table discussion was led by Michael McGowan, a veteran journalist and a former member of the EU Parliament from the United Kingdom. Also in attendance were Mr. Maxime H. A. Larivé, Mr. Neil Vander Most, and Mr. Kolja Raube from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s European Union Center (EUC). The speakers were welcomed and introduced by the Chair of the Economics Department, Professor David Cleeton. Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, from the department also attended.

 While hoping for the best, McGowan cautioned that a number of internal and external challenges could impede the Union’s growth. Pointing at the referendum slated for 2017 that would decide Britain’s stay in the EU, he opined it would not be wise to stay away from the world’s single largest market. Britain can go alone, but “will lose its voice in European affairs,” said the former European parliamentarian.

 Britain’s traditionally conservative attitude to the European Union is not pervasive among the other member nations, thinks Raube, a visiting scholar from University of Leuven. “Despite criticism, the EU has slowly started to take collective foreign policy,” said Raube. When asked what he thinks would help demonstrate such collective approach, Raube mentioned foreign aid as an example. The EU’s promising future was echoed by Mr. Larivé who said that the European Union is functioning smoothly despite a pessimism arisen from one after another crisis – whether it is the common currency Euro or Greek debts.

In fact, the European Union, according to Vander Most, has a lot to offer to other nations including the United States. That the representative system at the European Parliament has facilitated conflicting voices to be heard is a great example for any democracy in the world, said Vander Most, who works as an instructor at EUC.

 The discussion generated questions on a range of topics including the Ukraine crisis, Syria, and human rights issues. Michaelene Cox, an associate professor, moderated the Q & A session.








 Story by Arafat Kabir for Illinois State University's Department of Politics and Government
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

VIDEO: Teach-In: Refugee Crisis in Europe



The European Union Center was one of the co-sponsors for this Teach-In about the Refugee Crisis in Europe held on September 22, 2015. The EUC Blog has earlier coverage of this event available here.  This video presents the whole discussion, and is hosted through Media Space at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The  Refugee Crisis in Europe is still incredibly prominent in our society today.  Much has been said about the topic, and on September 22nd, a Teach-In about the Refugee Crisis was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The purpose of this discussion was to present an open space containing varying people and opinions.  A brief summary of this event follows:
This panel discussion looks at the diplomatic, political, social, and humanitarian law implications of the influx of large populations of refugees into Europe. The speakers also shed light on the situation in Germany, Greece and Hungary and discuss the EU policies that address (or fail to address) the crisis.
To view the discussion, you can watch the video on a new page or with the video player below this text.


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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"New Trends in the EU Industrial Policy - Implications for Bulgaria”


On October 16, the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was one of the sponsors for a lecture presented by Visiting Scholar Paskal Zhelev.  Carlo Di Giulio was one of the attendees of the lecture, and he wrote this piece about the event.  
As a sponsor and co-sponsor, the European Union Center brings different lecturers and presentations to campus throughout the academic year.  For more information on future events, please visit our calendar.  

It was a nice and informal atmosphere on Friday the 16th at Lucy Ellis Lounge where Paskal Zhelev had explained the implications of the EU Industrial Policy from a historical and international perspective. At the end of the lecture, a participative public stretched the schedule by more than 20 minutes asking questions and debating on the topic, as Prof. Zhelev was glad to answer and keep the debate lively and interesting.

After a period of abandonment of structured Industrial Policies and towards the end of the recent Economic crisis, the EU has taken a U-turn on IP relying more on the self-regulatory power of markets as suggested by the Neo-liberal approach. The need to relaunch a weakened manufacturing sector, important challenges brought by globalization, and the observation of successful Industrial Policies in the Eastern Asian region have led to conspicuous investments on IP and the adoption of broad reforms, such as the Europe 2020 strategy. However, the case of Bulgaria shows how the poorest member states are facing policy hurdles that can hardly be removed without direct actions by the EU institutions in modifying the terms for accessing monetary funds. Bulgaria was indeed forced to adopt a horizontal IP after its accession to the EU, but only after a period of liberalization and deindustrialization. As a consequence, a lowering in the industrial capabilities of the country has not been fulfilled by a favorable IP, which has instead provided support to unprofitable activities. Although part of the responsibilities should probably be addressed to Bulgaria itself, as it was not able to maximize the opportunities offered with the EU accession, one of the main issues still resides on the design of EU policies, too often made for high competitive countries.

 At the end of the lecture, while the EU strategy can be considered still beneficial, doubts are casted on a few details, especially in terms of equality among member states. Light has been shed on the Bulgarian approach and more consciousness of its limits and past mistakes could be a lesson for the future.

Carlo Di Giulio is a graduate assistant at the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Europe's Jews: Past, Present, Future? (Video)

A virtual roundtable entitled "Europe's Jews: Past Present, Future?" was organized by the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh was held on October 22, 2015.

Panelists included: Gunther Jikeli, Indiana University, author of Muslim Antisemitism in Europe; Andrew Srulevitch, Director of European Affairs and Assistant Director of International Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League; Ben Judah, author and journalist, who has written on Britain’s Jews for Politico and Tablet; and David Weinberg, Professor Emeritus, Wayne State University and author of Recovering a Voice: West European Jewish Communities after the Holocaust.

From the description of the virtual roundtable:
By all accounts, the number of anti-Semitic incidents—including violent attacks on synagogues, businesses and individuals—has reached a postwar high across Europe. Official responses and those of community leaders have varied, as have explanations. Some point to the re-emergence of age-old European attitudes or populist political parties while others suggest a link to Europe’s changing demographic or a reflection of the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This edition of Conversations on Europe explores the current situation of Jewish communities in light of Europe’s past and with a view toward the future. Center Director Ron Linden moderates.
A video of the roundtable can be viewed below or on Youtube:


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European Union Center Movie Night-Eurochannel Shorts: My Dear Family-Funny Games

Photo Still from "Homer's Disease" courtesy of Eurochannel
Article by Raphaela Berding

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois hosts "Movie Nights" every semester.  This semester, the movie nights will consist of short films presented by Eurochannel. Eurochannel is the award-winning television channel featuring premium European entertainment with the biggest stars in cinema, TV and music. Eurochannel is available on Sling International. To learn more, you can become a fan on Facebook on www.facebook.com/eurochannel and follow on Twitter www.twitter.com/eurochannel.  

On Tuesday, October 13, the EUC hosted the first European Union Center Movie Night in the Fall 2015 Semester.  This Movie Night presented the seventh edition of the Eurochannel Short Films Tour, "My Dear Family." Seven short films from different European countries were shown, and all of these were in their original language with subtitles in English, which increased the experience's authenticity.

Family has been the core of European society.  It is the vital energy that moves countries and changes almost every aspect of life, from economics, to politics, and to arts. This familiar spirit was captured in these ten minute short films with stories about families, their challenges and greatest accomplishments. Through the eyes of the filmmakers and guided by their creativity, the viewers discover fascinating different cultural experiences.

Film topics vary from an unhappily married screenwriter who struggles to write a romantic scene, to a young IT specialist who is confronted with his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, and to a clumsy father who is trusted by his girlfriend to look after the family.  These aspects of family life and potential problems were touched upon and presented in creative and funny ways.

Each of the films was different in its nature, and provided a dynamic experience for the viewers. Everyone, disregarding their origin, has probably experienced one of the dilemmas that was presented and could therefore identify with it. Even though the viewers and filmmakers are culturally different from each other, the theme of families having obstacles all over the world displays similarities.

 The next European movie night will be hosted on Tuesday, November 3, 6PM.  The theme of these films will be "My Dear Family-the First Day of the Rest of Your Life."

Raphaela Berding is a Graduate Assistant at the European Union Center.  Eurochannel is available on Sling International. To learn more, you can become a fan on Facebook on www.facebook.com/eurochannel and follow on Twitter www.twitter.com/eurochannel.  


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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The law of the land-Sustainability Research Conducted by Professor Jody Endres and Rayane Aguiar

The information in this article appeared originally on International Innovation's website in October, 2015. A copy of the article can be found on their website here. Jody Endres is an EUC affiliated faculty and Rayane Aguiar is a Master of Arts in European Union Studies alum.

At first glance, it may appear that farming is not as harmful to the environment like other practices such as drilling for fossil fuels or overfishing. However, environmental concerns can stem from agricultural practices, and each farmer has a different idea of how their work impacts the environment. Dr. Jody Endres and PhD candidate Rayane Aguiar have been conducting research on the implementation of "agricultural policy" around the world to create some consistency.

Dr. Endres' research

...focuses on the legal environmental regimes that surround biomass-based cropping systems. “Renewable energy policy in Europe is driving discussions in the US about how to verify the sustainability of bioenergy feedstocks, whether for transportation fuels or power, particularly for export to Europe,” she explains. [...]For more than seven years, Endres has been concerned with developing new standards for biofuels sustainability that can encourage a sustainable system like the one maintained in Europe – or even, ultimately, a perennial cropping system. “Bioenergy served as the perfect platform to consider how to redesign agricultural and forested landscapes to include more diverse systems that can include many perennial bioenergy crops,” she enthuses. Indeed, with rising consumer concern in the US over forest use for biofuels, private and public organisations have never been under greater pressure to ensure that the agri-forest supply chain is sustainable. In order to achieve this, though, sustainability attributes must be measured and legal frameworks developed.
Since the late 2000s, Endres has been examining topics such as the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive and the US Clean Water Act to help guide her research in agricultural policy. She has also worked on grants to continue her work.

Dr. Endres' research also collaborate with Rayane Aguiar's research.  "The objective of Aguiar’s research is to mobilise her holistic view of how law and policies can be used to remedy societal and environmental problems, in turn supporting sustainable farming on local and global scales." Together, the two work together to gather information and research regarding changes in agricultural policy.

To learn more about Endres and Aguiar's research, the full article and interview questions can be found on International Innovation's website .


Jody Endres is Professor of Law in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her JD from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2000. Her research centres on how to develop integrated sustainability policy at the nexus of agricultural, environmental and energy systems, and her current work includes institutional and comparative approaches for building green development metrics in law and policy. She is also involved in several national and international collaborations.

Rayane Aguiar is a lab student of Endres, conducting PhD research on environmental law and policies, and sustainable farming at the local and global level.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

North of the Northern Lights: A New Way of Perceiving the Crocker Land Expedition of 1913-1917

Photo from the Spurlock Museum Collection
"North of the Northern Lights: Exploring the Crocker Land Arctic Expedition 1913–1917" is a current exhibit at the Spurlock Museum that is co-sponsored by the European Union Center. The exhibit will be available from October 6, 2015 to July 31, 2015. Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public.

I would like to preface this article with the fact that I knew nothing about the Crocker Land Expedition before I went to the “North of the Northern Lights” exhibit at the Spurlock Museum. After my visit to the exhibit, I found that I had not only learned new information, but I also gained a new perspective.

The exhibit starts with an examination of the initial results and lasting impact of the Crocker Land Expedition of 1913-1917. The exhibit is arranged in a way to examine the expedition's hope of having "carefully laid plans" versus the "chaotic" reality they faced and tried to control. The pictures are a testament to this line of thinking, as on closer examination, the photos tend to be posed or feature little context of the people or situation. This information at first may not initially seem important, but upon further exploration of the guides and online module provided by the Spurlock Museum, it is an important perspective to consider when viewing this information.

The Crocker Land Arctic Expedition, led by Donald MacMillan, was established to provide proof that Crocker Land was a real place.  In fact, the University of Illinois helped co-sponsor this expedition. MacMillan's team learned that Crocker Land was actually a mirage, but the team found new information and items in their time in Crocker Land.

The "North of the Northern Lights" exhibit consists of about 200 physical artifacts and 4500 photos.  The museum does a wonderful job of of putting as much as they can in the exhibit.  Reading or browsing through the guides is crucial though for understanding the context of these items.

Many items are present in the Spurlock Museum, but not every item has accurate context.  These items and information would never have been available without the help of the Inuit people who were largely unrepresented in initial reports by expedition members.  The exhibit at the Spurlock Museum aims to rectify these mistakes, but some information is unfortunately lost to the past.

What the Spurlock Museum can do is to present the information in a way that encourages museum visitors to examine the "accuracy" of historical evidence.  On my trip, I spent a great deal of time exploring the guides and information available at the exhibit.  More importantly, I opened up my mind to questions.

The Spurlock Museum accomplishes many ambitious goals with their exhibit, and it was an incredibly fascinating use of my time.  This exhibit is open from October 6th to July 31st, and if you want to absorb all the information you can, you may consider visiting the exhibit more than once.

Rachel Johannigmeier is a Graduate Assistant at the European Union Center and a student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

For more information on the Spurlock Museum, please visit their website



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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Minute With...Richard Tempest: Why has Putin's Napoleonic 'cold charisma' made him so popular in Russia?

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
This article, written by Craig Chamberlain, originally appeared on October 9, 2015 on the Illinois News Bureau Online.  

Vladimir Putin is making headlines again, this time by intervening in Syria’s civil war. At the end of September, the Russian president began a bombing campaign against rebel forces, including ISIS but also U.S.-supported groups, and has announced he is sending ground forces into the country. Some commentators have suggested his bold moves make President Obama look weak by comparison and risk a Cold War-style confrontation. Richard Tempest, a U. of I. professor of Slavic languages and literatures, sees Putin’s actions in keeping with his “cold” charisma, a style of leadership he shares with Napoleon. Tempest has written and taught extensively on both Putin and political leadership styles and is this fall teaching a course on Putin and Napoleon for the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain. 

So what is cold charisma and how do you see it demonstrated in Putin’s actions? Why has it made Putin so popular in Russia?

 Cold charisma posits an emotional distance between the public figure and his or her audience. Also, there is an element of menace in the cold charismatic’s self-presentation. Hollywood actors provide a useful point of reference for the different types of political charisma. In the case of Putin, think Daniel Craig as James Bond. Athletic, brutal and patriotic, in other words.

 Putin’s policies and public image resonated with the Russian public after the politically tumultuous and economically trying 1990s, which were presided over by an ailing and erratic Boris Yeltsin. After he became prime minister in 1999 and president in 2000, Putin displayed an unexpected – probably even to himself – ability to appeal to broad swaths of the public by projecting self-confidence, vigor and decisiveness. That is to say, he turned out to be a skillful politician.

 He was able to articulate a widespread feeling of resentment among his countrymen that Russia had been taken advantage of by the West after the fall of communism. Putin’s core message, that the country has risen from its knees, continues to resonate with most Russians, despite falling living standards.

Will a leader like Obama, who you say exhibits “cool” charisma, always suffer by comparison?

Not necessarily. Think of charisma as a filter through which a given politician, in this case Obama, projects his identity and image to the U.S. public. President Kennedy was a cool charismatic, yet in his interactions with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev – who was flamboyantly brutal in his public pronouncements and actions – Kennedy was realistic and practical, an example of realpolitik in the context of the Cold War. Their relationship was in no way contingent on the poetics of Kennedy’s political appeal inside the United States. 

By the same token, the stylistics of Obama’s self-presentation are primarily functional within his domestic political space. In any case, the cool quality that helped Obama win the presidency in 2008 has arguably dissipated. Putin and Obama are working to advance their respective foreign policy agendas rather than engaging in a charisma contest.

Putin’s moves in Syria, similar to his moves last year in Ukraine, have raised fears about broader Russian aggression. Your course compares Putin to Napoleon, who conquered much of Europe two centuries ago. How do you read Putin’s motives? And how dangerous can he be?

Putin is a rational actor within his own set of assumptions, which may not be adequate to the facts on the ground. I’m reminded of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s alleged comment that he lives in his own world. Also, he is an able tactician but not a strategic thinker. For instance, the annexation of the Crimea last year boosted Putin’s domestic popularity to unprecedented heights but weakened Russia’s position internationally and compounded its economic problems.

Like any politician, the Russian president is motivated by a range of considerations. He has framed his Syrian gambit or gamble as being in Russia’s national interest, while using it to put pressure on the United States and its allies and to maintain his political support at home, particularly following the inconclusive results of the intervention in eastern Ukraine.

The personality-based character of the Putin administration was summed up by Vyacheslav Volodin, his deputy chief of staff, who last October declared that “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin.” These are worrying words. In my OLLI course, I compare the Russian president to Napoleon mostly in terms of their charismatic self-presentation. Putin is not a would-be world conqueror. He does see himself, however, as the leader of a great power that is laying claim to its own sphere of influence while challenging the perceived imposition of power by the U.S. In Putin’s book, geopolitics is a zero-sum game.

The danger lies in the volatility of the Syrian situation, with multiple local and external, nonstate and state actors generating a plethora of military variables. These may produce an unexpected clash of arms between, say, Russia and Turkey, a NATO member – note the recent incursion into that country’s air space by a Russian military aircraft, which was intercepted by Turkish F-16s. It would take just a twitch of a pilot’s thumb on the fire button to escalate tensions to the level of a shooting war.

Craig Chamberlain is a staff member for the Illinois News Bureau 
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Friday, October 9, 2015

La Langue et l’Identité dans le Monde Francophone, or Language and Identity in the Francophone World


On September 28 2015, the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh held a roundtable discussion entitled "La Langue et l’Identité dans le Monde Francophone" or "Language and Identity in the Francophone World." Panelists included: Abdellah Taia (Moroccan novelist and filmmaker), Nadia Fadi (Professor of Social Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium), and Denis Provencher (Professor of French and Intercultural Communication, University of Maryland, Baltimore County).

From the abstract of the roundtable discussion:
Dans le monde francophone, quelles sont les relations entre l’identité linguistique, l’identité nationale, le sexe, et la sexualité?
or
This session will be an all-French Conversation on Language and Identity in France, Belgium, and the Maghreb.

A video of the conference can be viewed below or on YouTube:


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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Back to School at What Cost? Comparing Higher Education Models in the US and Europe



On September 17 2015, The Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh held a roundtable discussion entitled "Back to School at What Cost? Comparing Higher Education Models in the US and Europe" as part of their Conversations on Europe series. The panel participants included: Dr. John Weidman (Professor of Higher and International Development Education, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh), Professor Liudvika Leisyte (Professor of Higher Education, Center for Higher Education at TU Dortmund, Germany), Dr. John Douglass (Senior Research Fellow in Public Policy and Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley), and Goldie Blumenstyk (Senior Writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education). European Studies Center Director Ron Linden moderates.

From the description for the roundtable:
In this installment of the University of Pittsburgh's European Studies Center's monthly virtual roundtables series, a panel of experts reflects upon some of the most significant differences between the US and European models of higher education. In particular, they look at the question of who pays for students to go to University, and how much it costs both the individual and society.
A video of the conference can be viewed below or on YouTube :



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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The European Parliament oversight of EU-level agencies through written questions

Photo by Francisco Antunes
by Neil Vander Most

On Friday September 25th, 2015, the Department of Political Science and European Union Center sponsored a presentation given by Prof. Nuria Esther Font Borrás from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Her presentation, entitled “The European Parliament oversight of EU-level agencies through written questions” details the interesting findings found in her newest publication in the Journal of European Public Policy this month. 

Among the EU’s many institutions, the European Parliament is the least understood, due in part to its complexity, uniqueness, and continuing evolution in political significance. Prof. Font and her associates cast light on one aspect of this organization, its ability to oversee and ensure the accountability of the many agencies that work with Brussels to help the European Union better serve the lives of its constituents. Prof. Font is particularly interested in the role that written questions played in this process. Asked by individual members of the European Parliament (MEPs), these questions are sent to the European Commission, where they are investigated until an answer is found. Prof. Font studied the characteristics of the MEPs that most frequently asked these questions, as well as which agencies received the most of them.

 Through conducting a thorough and compelling statistical analysis, Prof. Font discovers many interesting findings. She finds that MEPs who were in opposition parties in their national governments were far more likely to submit written questions than those whose parties were in power. Furthermore, she notes that larger and more socially salient (ie: frequently appearing in the news) agencies received more written questions than those who are smaller or less well-known.

 Prof. Font’s work help us better understand the complicated processes involved in European governance. The fact that MEPs in their national opposition are significantly more likely to pose written questions suggests these members are utilizing written questions to gather information, closing gaps between them and the better endowed competitor parties in power nationally. One would not expect to see national politics at play in a popularly elected branch of a European institution! This finding is a poignant reminder of the stubborn importance of national politics within the European project.

 Additionally, Prof. Font’s findings on which agencies receive written question oversight raises a number of thought-provoking questions. On one hand, it may seem appropriate that the largest agencies and those in the forefront of the public’s mind receive the most oversight, as their overall impact should be more clear and immediate to the average European. However, as Prof. Font herself notes, this leaves the constellation of smaller, less well-known agencies with little to no oversight! While individually these agencies may be small or less well-known, together they make up over 75% of all European agencies, drawing approximately half of all funding allocated towards agencies (Font and Duran, 2015). This lopsided allocation of oversight could negatively impact the performance and legitimacy of these important European organizations. Studies such as those done by Prof. Font and her colleagues are critical to better understand and improve the performance of political actors.

Cited
-Font, Nuria and Ixchel Perez Duran. “The European Parliament oversight of EU agencies through written questions.” Journal of European Public Policy. Published Online 9/18/15.

The author, Neil Vander Most, is a current Ph.D student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teach-In: European Refugee Crisis

Photo of teach-in taken by Raphaela Berding
On September 22nd, a teach-in about the recent refugee crisis in Europe was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The European Union Center was one of the sponsors along with: The Center for Global Studies, Program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives, and Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. This article was written by Raphaela Berding, a MAEUS student with the European Union Center.

The auditorium in Bevier Hall was packed. Many students followed the invitation of the European Union Center and the Center for Global Studies for a teach-in on the refugee crisis in Europe in which four speakers looked at the diplomatic, political, social and humanitarian law implications of the influx of large populations of refugees coming mostly from Syria into Europe. In their respective fields, Herbert Quelle, Consul General of the German Consulate in Chicago, Zsuzsa Gille, Professor in Sociology, Kostas Kourtikakis, Professor in Political Science, and Lesley Wexler, Professor in Law from the University of Illinois presented important information related to the crisis. Gille and Quelle also talked about the situation in Hungary and Germany, two countries that have been constantly present in the media during the last weeks for their stance on the crisis. They neutrally reflected on how their countries face the crisis and gave their opinion. Gille, who is from Hungary, pointed out that it is important not to judge all Hungarians for rejecting to take in refugees.

 At the end of their talks, students had the chance to ask questions to the panelists. The fact that they came from many different fields, such as History, Political Science or Engineering showed that the crisis is affecting everyone and that it has drawn attention to people all over the world.

 The teach-in left people very satisfied. At the end of the day, the question about what will happen in Europe and how the situation will develop remains. One can only make speculations about the progression of the crisis, and about whether or not Europe will handle it positively and adapt to new circumstances. There is also speculation about which solution the heads of the nation states will come to, which is especially important. As Kourtikakis claimed, what is often forgotten in the debate about the refugee crisis is the second crisis, that Europe has not overcome yet.
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