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.

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

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.

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.

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.

“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 

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

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:
Contact us:

Further Resources: 

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


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!


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


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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