A FLAS Fellow's Semester Abroad in Amman

Audrey Dombro, an agricultural and consumer economics student and 2019-20 FLAS fellow, reflects upon her experience studying in Jordan.

Master of Arts in European Union Studies

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois offers the only Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) program in the Western Hemisphere. Learn more here.

Reading Contagion through Boccaccio's Decameron

Dr. Eleonora Stoppino discusses the moments of social and ethical breakdown described by Boccaccio, as well as the potential for reconstruction after the plague.

Conversations on Europe

Watch the collection of online roundtable discussions on different EU issues sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

COVID-19 and Liberal Democracy in Hungary

Dr. Zsuzsa Gille responds to the "Enabling Act," passed by the Hungarian Parliament on March 30, 2020.

Videos of Previous Lectures

Missed an EUC-hosted lecture? Our blog's video tag has archived previous EUC-sponsored lectures.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

EUC Lecture Series: Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Photo by Maxime Larivé
By Rachel Johannigmeier

On March 29, 2016, the EUC hosted the latest event in their Lecture Series. Jean Monnet Chair and Professor of Economics Canan Balkir presented her lecture entitled “Syrian Refugees in Turkey.” 

After a brief introduction of the speaker and the topic by Maxime Larivé, Assistant Director of the EUC, Professor Balkir began her presentation by explaining the situation and the economic perspective she used to view and analyze the plights of Syrians, Turkey, and the European Union. Another element of her presentation was the visual presentation.  Balkir implemented pictures and graphs to strengthen her points. For example, her pictures of the refugee camps in Syria presented a realistic depiction of the Syrian refugees’ situation. 

Balkir first discussed the events since 2011 that built up to the current refugee crisis.  She described the changing relationship between Syria and Turkey, the impact of the Arab Spring, and the effect of ISIS. 

She then addressed the economic impact of Turkey hosting the Syrian refugees. While hosting only 25 percent of Syrian refugees, about 2.5 million dollars is spent every day by the Turkish government to aid this population.  Balkir also addressed the many challenges such as education, health, shelter, employment, social issues, and politics.  With regards to education, Balkir presented questions about the languages and educational systems for the refugees.  Many of the refugees plan to stay in Europe, but their educational beliefs do not always agree with the Turkish government. 

Not only did Balkir discuss the Turkish government’s relationship with the Syrians, but she also discussed the opinions of Turkey’s citizens about the Syrians. Showing statistics from the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), Balkir stated that about 30 percent of Turkish citizens felt that they were forced humanitarians and that refugees should be sent back to the country in its current state. Balkir was shocked that there was an increase in people saying yes to this question.

Balkir finally addressed the EU’s role and response to the situation.  Challenges include the slow rate of policy implementation and the current problem of terrorism.  Based on the topics she discussed, it is clear that to understand how to move forward, there has to be an understanding of the current situation and the events leading up to it. 

The audience remained intrigued by the presentation and discussion about Turkey and Syrian refugees.  These topics will be discussed again later this semester on April 28, 2016 during the Turkish Studies Symposium at the Illini Union.


Monday, March 21, 2016

“The Refugee Crisis and the New Right on the European Periphery” Keynote Lecture: Jószef Böröcz, “Materialist Background to the ‘Migration Crisis in Europe’”

By Raphaela Berding

On March 16, the EU Center sponsored a Symposium on “The Refugee Crisis and the New Right on the European Periphery.” The event was organized by Zsuzsa Gille (Sociology) and George Gasyna (Slavic Languages and Literatures) from the University of Illinois. Various academics presented their research in different areas regarding the Symposium topic.

The keynote address was given by Jószef Böröcz, Professor of Sociology at the Rutgers University in New Jersey. Böröcz lecture was about the “Materialist Background to the ‘Migration Crisis in Europe’.” He critically presented Hungary’s answers and actions towards the refugee crisis.

Hungary’s government under Prime Minister Victor Orban initiated a strong anti-immigrant and anti-immigration billboard campaign to prevent refugees from coming to Hungary. Addressing them in a rather informal and impolite way, the billboards said, for instance, “If you come to Hungary, you must respect our laws and culture.” Furthermore, Hungary’s government made it legally impossible to claim asylum in Hungary, and built up fences in its southern border. Also on the policy suggestions at the EU level, Hungary presented an extreme anti-immigrant posture.

After these actions, the Hungarian government came under criticism for, among other things, failing to stand up to legal principles, such as international laws, the Geneva convention, the acquis communautaire, or even the Hungarian constitution. Hungary’s actions were also marked as politically unacceptable and morally questionable.

In the end, Böröcz touched upon the differences between Eastern and Western Europe. In this regard he mentioned the concept of dependence, meaning by that a network which is more important for one actor than for the other. He also talked about the feeling of “ressentiment” of those who serve and are dominated.

Böröcz did not only outline Hungary’s answers to the refugee crisis but also tried to find reasons for these actions. The differences between Eastern and Western Europe are visible in many terms and it shows in the current migrant crisis.

Raphaela Berding is a MAEUS student and graduate assistant at the European Union Center.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Keynote Lecture: The Honorable Mary Robinson, “Climate Justice after Paris: opportunities, challenges, and priorities”

By Carlo Di Giulio

It was an absolutely enlightening speech on March 10th, at the I-Hotel in Champaign, when the Honorable Mary Robinson commented on the Paris Agreement and the challenges of climate justice waiting ahead for all of us. The keynote was part of the two days workshop, “Climate Change and its Impact: Risks and Inequalities” co-sponsored by more than thirty offices, colleges, departments, and centers at the University of Illinois, including the European Union Center.

Last December in Paris, 196 heads of states attended the COP 21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in order to negotiate an agreement aimed to reduce and eventually stop climate change. The Paris Agreement sets important goals and measures that will become binding if signed by at least 55 countries that are producing overall more than half of global emissions.

In the opinion of the Honorable Mary Robinson, the Paris agreement delivered what was expected. 188 countries committed earlier to the UN and intensive, yet transparent work of governments, civil society and businesses – with small countries involved in the process since the very beginning of the “road to Paris” – have helped to agree on strong countermeasures to one of the plagues of our century. The outcome of COP21 is a large, binding agreement that still minds national conditions and differences, but unlike the previous agreements and protocols, attributes a share of responsibilities to all the countries involved. Among the main goals of the agreement is a drastic reduction in carbon emissions containing the increase of temperature to a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit as compared to pre-industrial levels, marks a fundamental turn in the optic of saving our future generations.

However, there are still a few adjustments that are required to the agreement. The provision of implementation and enforcement measures are two of them. For instance, authoritarian regimes may represent an obstacle to its effectiveness. Another problem related to implementation is the absence of financial support to help developing countries to be compliant, since technical measures may be too costly and not affordable for them.

In general, we took big steps forward, and we may look to 2030 with excitement and hope, a word that the Honorable Robinson repeatedly stressed during her speech. The future of the next generations is in our commitment to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.  The Paris Agreement was a clear sign of this commitment.

Carlo Di-Giulio is a MAEUS student and graduate assistant at the European Union Center. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

EUC Lecture Series on Race, Globalization and Education “Transcultural teens: performing youth identities in French cités”

By Paula Jaime Agramon

On March 14, 2016, the EUC Lecture Series on Race, Globalization and Education hosted the lecture “Transcultural teens: performing youth identities in French cités” by Chantal Tetreault. Chantal Tetreault is the Assistant Professor Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University.  She can be reached at tetreau7@msu.edu.  

During her lecture, Chantal Tetreault discussed her research on teenagers and identity in France.  Chantal’s research was performed in France in suburbs around cities that are considered spaces of migration, social exclusion and racialized marginalization. These spaces are denominated ‘les cités’ and they are becoming a place for an emergent youth subculture.
Chantal Tetreault, MSU Department of Anthropology

In her research, Chantal wanted to study how youth subculture in les cités are developing transcultural communicative genres that involve their French culture knowledge as French born citizens and the culture of their families, who in most cases come from Algeria.

Teens create a peer-based culture in which they elaborate and create new communicative traits. For example, they use certain Arab-origin words used by their parents in different and innovative ways that allow them to ‘get away’ with name-calling and jokes.

She found that teens are developing a youth subculture that not only extends in between ‘les cités.’ It is a subculture that is spreading across the general middle-class youth population.

Paula Jaime Agramon is a MAEUS student and graduate assistant at the European Union Center.

For more past lectures from the EUC, please visit our website's archives.

Friday, March 11, 2016

MAEUS Alum Michael Nelson's Ukrainian Research

Mike Nelson and EducationUSA alum Kostyantyn
By Michael Nelson

Recently, MAEUS alum, Michael Nelson was in Ukraine as a part of his research at Stockholm University.  Here is his personal statement about his recent experience:

"I went to Vinnytsia, Ukraine to conduct research for my Master's thesis to completely my degree in International and Comparative Education from Stockholm University.

Mike Nelson and students

I connected with several administrators from Ukrainian universities last summer when I worked for the EducationUSA Leadership Institute in Champaign that was hosted by the office of Global Education and Training at the University of Illinois, and the representatives from Donetsk National University and Vinnytsia National Technical University were able to help me organize focus group sessions with their students. Donetsk National University had to move over 500 miles to Vinnytsia as a result of the conflict in the Donbass, so it was especially interesting to hear from students about that subject."

Michael Nelson's experience through the Stockholm University is sponsored by Illinois Strategic International Partnerships (ISIP), the Illinois-Sweden Program for Educational and Research Exchange (INSPIRE), 2016 Heiskell Award Winner for International Partnerships.

From the INSPIRE website:
The goal with INSPIRE is to establish a transnational partnership alliance between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) and three leading research universities in Stockholm, Sweden. This partnership was initiated with KTH Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and quickly expanded to include Stockholm University (SU). We are now actively exploring potential avenues of collaboration with Karolinska Institutet (KI). Together, these top Swedish universities include faculties of engineering, humanities, law, medicine, natural sciences, and social sciences. This partnership alliance is a collaborative venture of well-matched, peer institutions and is expected to be fully reciprocal.
Mike Nelson and Iryna

The EUC is always proud to see the experiences and opportunities of alumni.  The Master of Arts in European Union Studies at the University of Illinois is designed to meet the needs of three constituencies of students: those seeking to combine area expertise with professional training; those proceeding to disciplinary-based doctoral work; and those seeking a stand-alone, professional degree. To learn more about the program and alumni from the program, visit the webpage on the EUC website.

Mike Nelson and EducationUSA alum Nick

Michael Nelson is a MAEUS alum of the EUC at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mike previously interned at the Fulbright Commission in Belgium and most recently received a scholarship to study at Stockholm University in Sweden.  Learn more about him here.

All photos credited to Michael Nelson.


Friday, March 4, 2016

EU Day 2016-Resolving Refugee Crisis Highlights Dutch EU Presidency Goals

Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson (left) and
EUC Director Anna Stenport welcomed
His Excellency Henne Schuwer for the
14th Annual EU Day at Illinois.
This article originally appeared on Illinois International News on March 3, 2016.  This article, "Resolving Refugee Crisis Highlights Dutch EU Presidency Goals" by Matt Vanderzalm, can also be viewed on its original platform online by clicking here

Amid civil war in Syria and Iraq, millions of those nations’ citizens have sought refuge in countries around the region and throughout the world.

The arrival of these refugees in Europe has caused a crisis that must be addressed immediately, according to His Excellency Henne Schuwer, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the U.S., who delivered the keynote address during the 14th Annual EU Day on February 29th at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Netherlands, which assumed the Presidency of the European Union in January, has highlighted the refugee issue as a top priority for its six-month term.

More than 1.5 million refugees came to the EU in 2015, escaping a war that has waged non-stop since 2011. In that time, Turkey and Germany have taken in millions of people; currently, two percent of Sweden’s population is comprised of refugees, according to Schuwer. Acknowledging that the EU and countries around the world must accept refugees per the 1951 Refugee Convention, he said that the EU must allocate refugee distribution based on available space and financial security. “The Netherlands, a densely populated country, would have difficulty accepting huge numbers [of refugees],” Schuwer said.

He said the EU must task nations on its “outer borders” to act as an efficient gateway for managing the flood of refugees. Turkey has already been given more than $3 billion to create refugee camps, he said. Since the EU has no Coast Guard, Schuwer called on southern neighbors to show solidarity with refugees and work create a tenable situation in the region.

In addition to the refugee issue, Schuwer pointed out other matters that the EU will need to prioritize in the coming months, including the aftermath of the recent economic crises. The notable financial issues face by some members of the EU—such as Greece and Spain—should cause greater “openness” within the EU of individual countries’ budgetary processes, he said.

“We need to make these rules and regulations as stringent as possible,” Schuwer said. “We need to guarantee the reserves of banks across the EU.”

The Dutch Ambassador also pointed to two other challenges the EU will face: implementing changes dictated by the recent accord, COP21, to address climate change, and retaining the United Kingdom in the EU. As a member who eschews participation in the Eurozone, the UK could more easily leave the EU than most states. As one of the largest economies in the EU, Schuwer emphasized the importance of retaining the UK within the EU while disclaiming a situation where a member is exempt from regulations by which EU states are expected to abide.

“[The Netherlands] has a long history of trade, of partnership with [the UK],” Schuwer said. “We’re in favor of the UK staying. But we’re not going to create special rules.”

UK voters will decide June 23 whether or not to remain in the EU. Polls indicate that voters are fairly evenly split ahead of the referendum.

On the climate change issue, Schuwer said he was “optimistic common sense will prevail.” He said the EU must curtail its reliance on Russian energy, replace fossil fuels as a primary energy source, and continue to employ and advance clean energy initiatives. COP 21, an agreement among 195 countries to immediately work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, vitally includes previously reluctant China and the U.S. The global pact could help spur world-wide efforts to curb carbon output beyond the EU, he said.

European Union Day at the University of Illinois is an annual celebration of transatlantic relations and strives to promote a better understanding between the peoples of the United States and the European Union. EU Day is open to the public and provides citizens with the opportunity to learn about the importance of the European Union to the United States and its role in promoting international relations. Invited guests and dignitaries included members of the Diplomatic Corps from Washington, DC, members of the Consular Corps from Chicago, business leaders, state and local government officials, and faculty and students from universities and high schools throughout Illinois. 

For more information, visit: http://europe.illinois.edu/

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Professor Michelle Egan
CHAMPAIGN-The European Union Center at the University of Illinois is pleased to announce that Professor Michelle Egan of the School of International Service at American University is the 2015 recipient of the Larry Neal Prize for Excellence in EU Studies, for her book Single Markets: Economic Integration in Europe and the United States published by Oxford University Press. The Larry Neal Prize was initiated by the EU Center at Illinois to recognize excellent research conducted by affiliated faculty of the EU Centers of Excellence located throughout the United States and Canada.

From the Oxford University Press description:
This ambitious volume provides a trenchant and timely analysis of the creation of a single market in both the EU and the US. Comparing the experience of the US during the nineteenth century and the single market of the EU in the twentieth century, Single Markets demonstrates how the political economy of single market formation has followed remarkably similar trajectories. Both cases show evidence of interplay between different levels of government in determining distributive outcomes; evolution of a legal framework for the market; and development of new regulatory strategies to deal with changing economic realities. The book illustrates the process of market consolidation through a detailed comparison of the so-called four freedoms: the removal of border controls; and the largely unrestricted transfer of goods, services, and capital across different jurisdictions. In both cases, establishing one market, one currency, and a more unified banking and financial system transformed largely autonomous or sovereign constituent units into a more unified economic entity.  Single Markets also sheds light on critically important questions for both comparativists and international relations scholars regarding the nature of territorial governance and the construction of state interests. The book's interdisciplinary approach to focusing on crucial political and economic developments on both sides of the Atlantic will be of interest to scholars in political science, public policy, law, and history.

Single Markets
Dr. Egan is a professor at American University, and besides her work with the School of International Service, she is an Affiliate Faculty Member in the Department of History, the coordinator of the European and Russian Studies Program, and faculty advisor for European Studies Certificate. She is also the Series Editor for Palgrave Series in EU Studies, and is the Vice President of the European Union Studies Association. She holds a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh

In honor of Professor Emeritus of Economics Larry Neal, the founding director of the European Union Center at the University of Illinois, the EU Center created the “Larry Neal Prize for Excellence in EU Scholarship” through the generous funds from the European Commission’s European Union Center of Excellence grant. Each year the Center solicits submissions of both books and articles that address current issues faced by the European Union and in transatlatlantic relations. Submissions are encouraged from all disciplinary fields. Visit the University of Illinois EU Center web site for more information about the award submission procedures

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

EU Day 2016-Student Meeting

Photo by Marta Schneider
By Raphaela Berding

On the morning of February 29, EU Day 2016, MAEUS and FLAS students had the chance to come together with His Excellency, Henne Schuwer, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the United States, the Head of the Economic Department Remco Zeeuw and the Consul General of the Netherlands, Klaas van der Tempel in an informal student meeting, and had the chance to talk to the Dutch diplomats before the Ambassador gave his keynote address.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands, representing the country that holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, delivered the keynote speech for the 14th annual EU day, organized by the European Union Center. EU Day is celebrated annually in order to promote a better understanding between the peoples of the United States and the European Union.

Photo by Marta Schneider
The conversation with Ambassador Schuwer concerned the importance of a European identity. The Ambassador pointed out that in order to create a feeling of solidarity, which is especially significant regarding the current situation of the European Union, it is important to have a common identity. He cited Jean Monnet, founding father of the European Union, who said that “If I had to do it [the EU] again, I would begin with culture”, referring to the important role culture and identity plays in European integration.

For the MAEUS students it was a great experience to have an insightful conversation with the Dutch Ambassador and ask him about EU topics relevant to their interest.

Raphaela Berding is a first year MAEUS student at the European Union Center at the University of Illinois.  She also serves as a research assistant at the EUC. 

Marta Schneider is the Digital Communications Specialist at Illinois International.  For her position she is involved in website design, web content development, and social media management. 


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