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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Is the EU Conflating Integration with Mobility? Assessing Erasmus after 30 Years

By Adalric Tuten, EUC Staff

During the monthly installment of its Conversations on Europe series, the University of Pittsburgh’s European Union Center (EUC) hosted a video conference entitled “European Integration through Study Abroad: 30 Years of the Erasmus Program.” Panelists included Dr. Sabina Von Dike (University of Pittsburgh), Dr. Theresa Kuhn (University of Amsterdam), Dr. Christof Van Mol (University of Antwerp), and Dr. Florian Stoeckel (University of Exeter). Dr. Jae Jae Spoon, Director of the EUC at the University of Pittsburgh, moderated the panel.

The purpose of the conference was to assess the accomplishments of the 30-year-old Erasmus Program, the European Union’s (EU) billion-euro student and scholar exchange program.  More specifically, the discussion focused on how the Erasmus Program has contributed to increasing European integration through support for international study abroad within the EU.

While all of the participants emphasized the positive nature of the program as a whole, there was division on the kind of impact the program has had on European integration. Based on his 12-country research of the Erasmus Program, Chris Van Mol argued the program has not only had an overstated impact on EU integration, it has even worked in the direction of dividing the EU. This is because those participating in the Erasmus Program have traditionally been university students representing a small, privileged group within the overall EU population. Theresa Kuhn confirmed this point by highlighting that this relatively small and privileged group of Europeans shows a selection effect in favor of the EU and its deepening integration, since this group already approached the program with a favorable view of the EU and its institutions. To remedy this situation, both Van Mol and Kuhn argued in favor of broadening the Erasmus Program to include members of society not traditionally associated with university students, such as vocational school students and government administrators.

Although supportive of this idea of greater program inclusiveness, Florian Stoeckel argued that in his research on Erasmus, he did find a positive correlation between program participation and a stronger sense of EU identity. Yet, he cautioned that his findings stressed a stronger experience of being European, versus possessing an EU political identity. Here, Sabina Van Dike made an important distinction that has evolved over time between a cosmopolitan identity and a European one. Van Dike suggested the cosmopolitan identity reflected a neoliberal and instrumental view of study abroad, grounded in the belief that participation in Erasmus means professional advancement. In this way, she hit on an underlying and unresolved question of the conference: does the Erasmus Program conflate EU integration with increased mobility? Given current political trends within the EU, including the rising popularity of Eurosceptic and nationalistic political parties, one could also ask whether fostering special programs for an already privileged part of the EU population, as the Erasmus Program currently does, has the inadvertent impact of dividing the EU by exacerbating societal differences, for example, along class and age lines?

Watch a recording of the videoconference below:


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

When Boxers Take to the Soccer Field: How Populism is Confounding the Game of EU Integration

By Adalric Tuten, EUC Staff

On November 16, the European Union Center (EUC) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign co-sponsored a lecture by Emilia Zankina, Associate Professor in Political Science and Provost of the American University in Bulgaria. Dr. Zankina’s talk, Theorizing Populism East and West, was part of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center’s (REEEC) New Directions lecture series and addressed the nature of populism in today’s Europe.

The focus of Dr. Zankina’s talk was on the problem of defining and theorizing populism and on discussing her new theoretical approach to the subject. According to Zankina, populism has found renewed interest among scholars due to its success in Europe and around the world. Yet, populism defies easy articulation, because it exhibits chameleon-like traits, making it visible across the political spectrum, in rightwing, centrist, and leftwing forms. Despite this resisting of easy definition, Zankina argued that populism does exhibit some important commonalities that make it a meaningful term for analysis. These include, for instance, reliance on charismatic leaders for political direction, avoidance of specific plans for executing policy, and aggressive assault on the political rules of the game that populist parties see as inhibiting easy resolution of major social crises, such as immigration or economic decline.  In other words, no matter the political message of a particular populist party, be it left, right, or centrist, the party sells itself as the savior of society, because it can bypass the political status quo to rescue the country from ruin and peril.

Here, Zankina forwarded her new theoretical approach for studying populism. Since all political parties sell themselves as able and ready to solve pressing social problems, Zankina distinguishes populism as a political strategy that relies on informal institutions and informal means to do so. Hence, populism promises to reduce political transaction costs by sidestepping formal political processes, such as use of vetoes and checks and balances, to expedite the saving of the nation. By informal, top-down means, Zankina noted, one of Bulgaria’s populist parties promised national salvation within 800 days.

So, what happens, as several audience members inquired, when populist parties win and win within the context of the European Union (EU)? Zankina responded that populist parties adapt to the formal political processes already in place, or they fail to survive. This is because the platforms of the parties are often highly emotional, lacking substantive policy foundations. Only when such parties form coalitions with traditional political parties are they able to carry out sustained policy changes. However, as Zankina further noted, because populist parties succeed through their rejection of formal political rules of the game, they pose challenges for the EU, even when they do not win elections. This is because the EU has no effective means for stopping these parties. As Zankina concluded, harsh reports and sanctions do not work against these parties, causing them to “freeze” the process of EU integration. Subsequently, then, these parties appear to be like boxers taking to the soccer field. They are successful at what they do by not complying with the rules of the game.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Gallery Conversation on "Propositions on a Revolution (Slogans for a Future)"

By Cassia Smith

l-r: Kristin Romberg, Jaleh Mansoor, Tameka Norris, & Terri Weissman
Though the Ten Days event series features several individual events such as lectures and performances, it also includes longer exhibitions dedicated to the themes of revolution and change. One of these exhibitions is the "Propositions on a Revolution (Slogans for a Future)" exhibition at the Krannert Art Museum. Morgan Shafter, a Ph.D. candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures, has written up this exhibition and a gallery conversation featuring it for REEEC's E-News blog. The gallery conversation, which took place September 22, 2017, featured curator Kristin Romberg, as well as contributing artist Tameka Norris, Dr. Jaleh Mansoor, and Dr. Terri Weissman. The exhibition is still running at KAM through December 22.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Universal Prostitution and Concrete Abstraction: The Biopolitics of Abstract Art, 1888-2008

By Cassia Smith

Edouard Manet's "The Balcony" (1869)
On September 21, Dr. Jaleh Mansoor gave a talk on "Universal Prostitution and Concrete Abstraction: Labour and the Biopolitics of 19th-Century Abstract Painting" at the Krannert Art Museum as part of the Ten Days event series. The lecture considers two paintings, one by Manet and one by Seurat, within a Marxist-feminist theory framework. LeiAnna X. Hamel, a Ph.D. candidate in the Slavic Languages and Literatures program, has written up Dr. Mansoor's talk for REEEC's E-News blog, complete with an overview of the main arguments and images of the two main paintings under discussion.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Library Exhibition on 1917

By Cassia Smith

Did you miss the Main Library's September exhibition on the 1917 Russian Revolution? While your chance to have your photo taken with a cardboard cutout of Lenin may be lost to time, you're still in luck! REEEC's e-News blog has a brief writeup of the exhibition and a gallery of images, including the one at left. See display cases, photographs, propaganda material, and yes, a Lenin cutout. Read up on the exhibition, or check the EUC's calendar for upcoming 1917-themed events.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Revolution and Renewal: A Review of the Revolutionary Poetry Slam

By Cassia Smith

Valeria Sobol and David Cooper
In late September, the Ten Days event series co-sponsored by the EUC hosted a revolutionary poetry slam, featuring a combination of classic and original poetry on the theme of revolution. First-year REEEC grad student Jesse Mikhail Wesso attended the poetry slam and wrote about it for REEEC's e-News blog. Click through for pictures of the performers, additional information on Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Wesso's own reflections on the nature of revolution. For other upcoming events, check the EUC calendar and the Ten Days website.

Researching and Teaching in European Tongues: Reflections on the European Union Center's Working Conference for Regional College Faculty

By Adalric Tuten, EUC Staff

How does one study or teach about something as complex as the European Union (EU), a political entity made of 28 different countries (soon to be 27, once the UK leaves), each with its own particular social, economic, cultural, and political complexities? This was the question guiding discussions during the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s European Union Center’s (EUC) conference, “Researching and Teaching the EU: Best Practices and Current Trends in EU Scholarship.” The answers varied, highlighting the rich, innovative, and interdisciplinary direction that study of the EU currently takes, not only in the US, but also around the world. That is, while the majority of faculty and students participating in the conference came from the local region, including from the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago, several came from as far away as Virginia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Taiwan.

The conference held on October 21, came one day after the EUC’s celebration of EU Day and provided scholars and students the opportunity to present their research on the EU. The discussions were diverse and animated as when, for example, Dr. Judith Pintar of the University of Illinois described how she teaches the subject of conflict resolution by using the historical context of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In her talk, “Restaging the Classroom for War: Teaching nationalism through immersive play,” Dr. Pintar captivated audience members with an account of how she utilizes immersive role play by students to teach them about the emotional, psychological, and political complexities associated with war and postwar reconstruction. As Dr. Pintar noted, since the former Yugoslavian countries are already EU member states or slated to be so, her students learn about the challenges related to political, social, and economic integration by countries that formerly fought wars against one another, thus, providing students with a more tangible and visceral learning experience than traditional textbook learning alone offers.

Other presentations that pushed the boundaries of traditional scholarship or that highlighted the variety of approaches to studying and teaching the EU were many, including discussions on immigration and refugee resettlement, language politics in the Balkans, economic growth after the sovereign debt crisis, and the state of EU education in Asia. For example, Achim Hurrelmann, Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University, utilized statistical content analysis to reveal significant insights into the durability of the EU’s democratic institutions by showing how the Eurozone crisis failed to prompt a legitimacy crisis within Europe’s media outlets.

Finally, the conference ended with an exciting look into the future of EU scholarship and teaching by current graduate and undergraduate students from the European Union Center’s MA program and from the University of Chicago’s European Horizons Program. Topics covered a wide range of critical subjects, from projections about the economic aftermath of Brexit to EU-South America relations in the sphere of education and labor. In sum, the main takeaway from the entire conference is that current and future EU-related scholarship and teaching is dynamic, innovative, multidisciplinary and most promising.

Bagpipes, Shawms, and Songs About Knights: Stary Olsa at the Illini Union

By Cassia Smith

Stary Olsa's drum

The Belarusian band Stary Olsa performs medieval, Renaissance, and early baroque music from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and western Europe. They use only period instruments (painstakingly handcrafted from historically accurate materials), such as cistra, Baltic psaltery, shawms, rebec, and Belarusian bagpipe. Over at REEEC's e-News blog, Master's student Sydney Lazarus describes a recent Stary Olsa performance at the Illini Union. (This performance was co-sponsored by the EUC as well as by other units on campus.) In addition to giving insight into the kinds of songs they perform and the instruments the band uses, the article includes pictures of the performance and links to their music.

You can see more Stary Olsa tour dates on their website. To keep up with EUC co-sponsored events, visit the Center calendar.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Studying the European Union in Asia: A Perspective from Taiwan

By Adalric Tuten, EUC Staff

On October 21, 2017, one day after the European Union Center (EUC) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) held its annual EU Day events, the EUC hosted a daylong conference on various topics related to the European Union (EU). Among these, was the keynote lecture that dealt with the burgeoning Asian interest in the EU.

Titled “Development of EU Studies in Asia-Pacific and Its Prospects,” by Dr. Su Hungdah, Jean Monnet Chair Professor at National Taiwan University and Director General of the European Union Center in Taiwan, the talk focused on how the Asian educational system approaches teaching and research related to the EU. According to Dr. Su, Asian interest in the EU emerged relatively late, in the early 1980s, and largely in step with an increasing number of Asian students and scholars traveling to Europe for educational and professional development purposes. As these students and scholars returned to Asia, they realized the need to establish a formal institutional framework for research on the EU that would facilitate the production of knowledge about the EU as well as professional networking opportunities within Asia and with Europe.

Subsequently, EU studies in Asia grew to the point that, by the late 1990s and early 2000s, a number of EU centers, much like the EUC in form and mission, developed. Today, these centers thrive and link a diverse group of Asian countries, from Singapore to Japan, together with the common goal of promoting EU studies. Yet, as Dr. Su highlighted, there exists an asymmetry in focus and concern throughout Asia, namely, that of concentration on EU-China relations. According to Dr. Su, this has to do with China’s rise as an economic powerhouse and emerging global military and political power. Moreover, Dr. Su noted an asymmetry in terms of subject matter focus, with Asian EU centers concentrating mostly on economic and political concerns related to international trade and intergovernmental governance. For example, in terms of Taiwan specifically, Dr. Su noted the predominance of EU studies as a supplementary course of study for political science students.

Hence, based on Dr. Su Hungdah’s enlightening talk about Asia’s interest in the EU, a number of questions arise related to the future of EU studies in Asia, including about the growing importance of India’s relations with the EU and new frontiers for scholarly and professional inquiry, such as in cultural studies. Whatever the direction the future takes, EU-Asia studies in Asia appears to remain dynamic.

The Russian Revolution as the Mirror of Third World Aspirations

By Cassia Smith

On September 6, Dr. Vijay Prashad kicked off the Ten Days that Shook the World event series with a lecture on the Russian Revolution of 1917 as it was seen by and influenced the Global South, particularly in India. Comparative and World Literature Ph.D. candidate Meagan Smith wrote about the lecture and opening gala for the REEEC e-News blog. She includes a summary of gala festivities as well as an in-depth discussion of Dr. Prashad's arguments and the resulting dialog during Q&A. If you missed the lecture or were hoping for a helpful overview, it's worth checking out!

Visit the Ten Days event series website for more information on upcoming events and the series goals. Visit the EUC's calendar for more co-sponsored events.

Friday, November 10, 2017

In the Service of International Education and Diplomacy: EU Day at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

By Adalric Tuten, EUC Staff Member

Ambasador Lepik at the European Union Center
On October 20, 2017, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) hosted its annual European Union (EU) Day event. This event celebrates the distinguished role of UIUC’s European Union Center (EUC) in promoting transatlantic relations between the US and the EU and in fostering the university’s commitment to serving as one of America’s leading-edge institutions for the study of EU affairs.

The highlight of the celebration is the 'State of the EU Address” and it is the EUC’s tradition to invite the Ambassador of the country holding the presidency to deliver remarks. In honor of Estonia’s current Presidency of the Council of the EU, the EUC invited His Excellency Lauri Lepik, Ambassador of Estonia to the United States, to participate in a number of EU Day activities. These included a roundtable meeting with the EUC’s faculty, staff, and MA students, as well as a “State of the European Union” keynote address open to the public. Following his keynote, the EUC hosted a luncheon with Ambassador Lepik, giving UIUC faculty, students, and the public a chance to visit one-on-one with His Excellency.

Although Ambassador Lepik’s work demanded his return to Washington, DC, after lunch, EU Day festivities continued with a roundtable panel discussion on the subject of the EU’s sovereign debt crisis. UIUC’s Professor of Political Science and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Dr. William Bernhard, moderated the insightful discussion about the economic, social, and political impacts of the EU’s sovereign debt crisis and its impacts since 2009. Panelists included, Dr. Hannah M. Alarian, University of Virginia, Dr. David L. Cleeton, Illinois State University, and Dr. Achim Hurrelmann, Carleton University.

Writing from the vantage point of a EUC insider present for all of the day’s activities, I was impressed by EU Day as one of UIUC’s signature international events open not only to the UIUC community but also the public, highlighting UIUC’s position as the state’s flagship university. For example, even for those residing in the DC area, it is difficult to have direct access to foreign embassy staff. Yet, this is what EU Day offered. Not only did EU MA students have a rare opportunity to meet with Ambassador Lepik to ask questions about Estonia, the EU, and EU-US relations, ranging from Estonia-Russia relations to the development of its digital economy, the public also had the chance to visit with His Excellency directly to learn about one of EU’s most technologically innovative member states . Similarly, EU Day provided the UIUC community and public with an engaging expert panel discussion on one of the world’s most significant economic crises in recent years. In sum, EU Day proved to be a success for both the EUC and UIUC, highlighting the university’s role as a regional and national leader in international studies.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Reflections on "Living Through" the Russian Revolution in The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty

By Cassia Smith

Director Esfir Shub
If you've been following the EUC's calendar, you might have noticed the Ten Days That Shook the World event series taking place around campus. One of these events, part of the Films of the Revolution film series, was a screening of the silent film The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (1927). On REEEC's e-News blog, history undergraduate Rachel Thompson describes her experience attending this screening. In particular, Thompson discusses what she learned about director Esfir Shub and how that context enhanced her experience of the film.

For more on the events in the Ten Days series, check the series website or the EUC calendar (look for events marked [1917/2017 series]).

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mountains of Butter, Lakes of Milk, and the Weird World of EU Agriculture Policy

By Adalric Tuten

What is weirder than agricultural policies? EU agricultural policies, according to Dr. David Bullock, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

On September 22, the European Union Center at UIUC invited Dr. Bullock to give a talk on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The talk was an engaging tour through the policy history of the CAP that, indeed, had audience members confirming Bullock’s conclusion about the eccentricities of EU agricultural policies.

Bullock, an expert on international agricultural economics, explained that the EU’s dramatic agricultural policies are important to understand, since they help explain a wide range of social, economic, and political aspects of the EU. For example, 40% of the EU budget goes into agriculture, with 27% of that going directly to EU farmers. This means about 48 billion Euros goes to farmers. Prior to CAP reforms, especially since 2007 when the EU decoupled price from production quantity, the numbers were even higher, with 60% of the EU budget going toward agriculture. Consequently, these heavy subsidies are a source of heated conflict, especially when the EU threatens to reduce them. The outcome, as Bullock noted, can be mayhem, with angry farmers fearing lost wages pouring milk onto city streets, releasing chickens into the urban wild, or setting tractors on fire, blocking traffic for hours.

But as Bullock also emphasized, CAP has EU integration embedded in its policy core. Subsequently, CAP has improved farming conditions for many EU countries. Today, when we think of EU nations such as France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland, or Italy, we immediately think of world-class agricultural products, from fine wine to cheese to cured hams to olives. We even think of the EU’s lead in rural, eco-tourism, with its signature groomed landscapes and quaint and cozy accommodations.

Yet, problems generated by CAP persist and continue to vex EU policymakers. One such problem is the industrial overhaul of farms, leading to loss of farming jobs and heavy migration of unemployed farmers to cities or other EU countries to find work, as happened in Romania.

To conclude, it is these ups and downs created by CAP that Bullock regards as vital for understanding today’s EU. To learn more about Dr. David Bullock’s insights into CAP, you can watch the subtitled video below.


"Gloomy Finland" and the Russian Imperial Gothic

By Cassia Smith

On September 26, Dr. Valeria Sobol gave a talk based on a chapter of her book-in-progress Haunted Empire: The Gothic and the Russian Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850. Olga Makarova, a graduate student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, has written up the lecture for REEC's e-News.

Professor Sobol's book explores the connection between the Gothic and empire in Russian literature, focusing on the portrayal of Northern and Southern imperial borderlands as uncanny spaces. The lecture offered a brief analysis of Vladimir Odoevsky’s novella “The Salamander” (1844) meant to demonstrate this function of Finland in Russian Gothic literature. Makarova covers Dr. Sobol's main arguments and includes some contextual information for the topic. If you missed this lecture or just need a refresher, the article is worth checking out!


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Unintended Impact of Sanctions in Russia

By Katherine Brown

When Russia invaded Crimea and sent unmarked soldiers into Ukraine in February 2014, the European Union was swift in condemning the actions and utilized sanctions against Russia almost immediately. Sanctions will only be lifted if the Minsk II Agreement’s requirements are implemented – which does not even include anything regarding Crimea’s status. Sanctions are like a penalty; a country is punished for behavior that goes against international norms. The norm Russia broke was the norm of sovereignty, and that did not sit well with the European Union (especially countries who share borders with Russia). For the European Union, who lacks its own official military and thus lacks the ability to respond to hard power with hard power, economic sanctions are the tool of choice. However, if the goal of sanctions is to push Russia to either respect the norm of sovereignty and withdraw troops, or in general to coerce Russia to stop doing what it’s doing, can these sanctions be considered helpful?

Sanctions have been added since 2014, and as we enter 2018, the effects of these sanctions should be examined. The Russian economy has tanked, with some calling Russia’s economic growth, “lethargic.”  While economic problems were expected, something else has come up that was not one of the intended consequences – a tanking birth rate. Sure, if people feel the economic pinch in Russia they are less likely to want to have children if the quality of life they can provide decreases or if feeding another child simply becomes more expensive. However, a 15% decrease in the birth rate is concerning, especially if this trend continues. Dr. Mark Lawrence Schrad, an associate professor of political science at Villanova University said, “it is somewhat ironic that the long-term consequence of sanctions might be to push Russia over a demographic cliff,” instead of an economic cliff.

If we look at the goal of EU sanctions, to encourage Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, these sanctions that have lasted almost a full four years are not successful. If the goal was to encourage the Russian people to view Putin as a war-instigator or an autocrat, these sanctions are absolute disaster for European perceptions. The Russian people do not blame Vladimir Putin for the sanctions, they blame Europe. Russia didn’t ask for sanctions, and European sanctions are created by European politicians – or so that logic goes. Vladimir Putin’s popularity has increased over this time period, indicating the spin he puts on these sanctions is working and working well. 60% of Russians have a negative view of the European Union (70% viewed the US negatively as well) and that poll was from 2015,  and 70% of Russians believe they should continue its present politics in spite of sanctions. With the new data on Russian demographics coming out, one has to wonder how Putin will spin this and what those consequences are. If Putin, as I believe, spins the data to suggest the EU and US sanctions are attempts to wipe-out Russia (and Russian people), Ukraine could be the least of the EU’s problems. The European Union must keep in mind the way Russians are viewing these sanctions, especially as they seek to continue sanctions through 2018. The perception problem is a threat to EU security.


1 Srinivas Mazumdaru, “Western Sanctions and Languid Russian Economy,” DW, February 2, 2017
2 Mark Lawrence Schrad, “Western Sanctions are Shrinking Russia’s Population,” Foreign Policy, October 19, 2017
3 Jill Dougherty, “Russia’s Middle Class: We don’t blame Putin,” December 10, 2015 CNN


Katherine Brown is a graduate student at the European Union Center and Chair of the Illinois Student Government Subcommittee on Graduate & Professional Student Affairs.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Proposed EU Copyright Reform Sparks Protests

By Cassia Smith

On September 6, 2017, a coalition of 15 organizations representing European academia, libraries, and research and digital rights communities delivered an open letter to the European Union’s Legal Affairs Committee. In that letter, this coalition, led by SPARC Europe, protested potentially harmful provisions in the current draft of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. These organizations called for significant amendments be made to the directive, and called for like-minded organizations to add their names to the signatory list by October 1. The amended letter will be delivered to the Legal Affairs Committee sometime this month.

In particular, the letter is concerned with Articles 11 and 13 of the draft directive, which these organizations fear could significantly impact Open Access and Open Science in the EU. According to the letter, Article 11 proposes that “links to news stories and the use of titles, headlines, and fragments of information… become subject to licensing,” and that these requirements be extended to academic publishing as well. This proposed requirement could have a significant impact not only on the public’s ability to access and evaluate the news, but also on researchers’ ability to share research.

Article 13 proposes significant restrictions on public-access repositories of scientific publications and research data, which would significantly increase the administrative and technical burden on the organizations that host and support these repositories. The letter also calls for smaller revisions to a number of other directive articles to promote best practices and ensure access to various resources from educational institutions.

These issues are a concern for many communities within education and research. The Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) organization is a signatory on the letter, and is encouraging concerned librarians from EU countries to request a meeting with their MEPs to express opposition to the proposed copyright changes. Libraries often help administer the repositories that are affected by the Article 13 restrictions, and the proposed changes in Article 11 could impact already-expensive academic journal subscriptions. These restrictions are also in conflict with libraries’ stated mission of improving access to knowledge, learning, and research. The final draft of this proposal could have an effect not only on scientists’ ability to share and conduct research, but also on libraries’ historic role as gateways to scholarship and knowledge.

You can read the full letter with all of its recommended revisions on the SPARC Europe website. The proposed Directive itself can be downloaded from the European Commission’s website.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Panel Discussion Blog: New Leaders of Transatlantic Relations: Future Prospects

By Adalric Tuten

When Donald Trump won the US presidential election, how did the European Union (EU) member states react? Has Donald Trump’s victory encouraged populist politics within the EU? What has Donald Trump’s presidency meant for US, EU, and Russia relations? Where does Brexit fit into this recent drama in American and EU electoral politics?

To address these and related questions, the European Union Center (EUC) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) held its Opening Roundtable and Fall Reception on August 29, titled New Leaders of Transatlantic Relations: Future Prospects.

The Roundtable featured 3 prominent UIUC faculty members: Dr. Scott Althaus, Professor of Political Science and Director of UIUC’s Cline Center for Democracy; Dr. Zsuzsa Gille, Professor of Sociology and Director of Global Studies at UIUC; and, Dr. Kostas Kourtikakis, Teaching Associate Professor of Political Science. Dr. Neil Vander Most, Visiting Coordinator of Academic Programs at the EUC and specialist on EU immigration and radical right parties in the EU, moderated the panel discussion.

The moderator’s initial talking point centered on the recent and dramatic election outcomes in the US and the EU and what these outcomes mean for relations between the US and the EU. From this talking point, the panel addressed many critical themes, including: the impact of the Trump presidency on US-EU-Russia relations; the rise of nationalistic or populist politics in both the EU and the US; the impact of populist politics on the media; concern about the future of US power in the world; and the consequences of Brexit for EU-US relations and the future of populist politics in the EU.

Highlights of the discussion are many, and EU Blog readers are encouraged to view the video of the panel discussion posted along with this blog.


Thursday, May 18, 2017


By AnnaMarie Bliss
On May 3, 2017, the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh and the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence at Florida International University held a videoconference discussion entitled "Transatlantic Relations after the first 100 days" to discuss EU/U.S. relations following the beginning of the Trump Administration. Panelists included Alasdair Young (Professor of International Affairs, Co-Director for the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies, The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Tech), Kathleen McInnis (International Security Analyst, Congressional Research Service), and Michael H. Smith (Professor in European Politics, University of Warwick). Markus ThielAssoc. Prof. & Director, Jean Monnet EU Center of Excellence, Florida International University, acted as the moderator.

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign co-sponsored the event, hosting a viewing and discussion space on campus.

Event abstract:
The referendum on Brexit and the new foreign policy priorities of American President Donald Trump hold the potential for significantly altering EU-US relations over the next few years. What are the prospects for a multi-lateral trade agreement? Have new security concerns changed traditional defense priorities? How does the current state of the Transatlantic relationship compare to other episodes in its history? What can American businesses and professionals expect moving forward?

A video recording of the event can be viewed here:


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Atlantic Expedition - Rediscovering Germany and reinventing the transatlantic partnership

All of the Atlantic Expedition fellows gathered at Eurogate,
an independent shipping terminal in Hamburg,
on the first day of expedition
By Eric Swenson

Eric Swenson is the director of external relations at MacMurray College.  He submitted his article, "Empires of Innovation" to the Atlantic Expedition Fellowship Program through the Atlantische Initiative, and was accepted as one of the Expedition's Fellows.  He became aware of the opportunity through the European Union Center 

When I graduated from UIUC in 2015, I chose to celebrate by taking my family for a meal at a German restaurant, Bayern Stube, in Gibson City, Illinois. As we settled in, I explained what the dishes were and offered my recommendations. My grandmother in particular needed quite a bit of coaxing to make a decision, and the reason wasn’t lost on me. My grandmother survived the Blitz.

I witnessed a profound transformation. A woman who refused even to speak to my grandfather’s German descended cousins when she first came to America ate authentic German food, served by a German family, and she loved it!

Yet her experience is ancient history. I certainly do not remember the devastation of world war, but today their legacy remains the foundation of our Western society through the institutions and partnerships built by nations determined to change. Today, the transatlantic partnership is as important as ever, but it faces unprecedented challenges.

Statue of King John of Saxony outside
the Semperoper opera house in Dresden
In response, Atlantische Initiative, a non-partisan, non-profit, and independent organization founded in Berlin, has established the Atlantic Expedition fellowship program, and I have had the pleasure of participating as a fellow since December. Designed to accommodate young professionals (35 and under) from diverse backgrounds, it aims to gather future leaders to modernize the transatlantic agenda through collaboratively developing policy recommendations and by engaging government, business, and civic leaders in the US and Germany.

I learned about this great opportunity through the European Union Center at UIUC, and I was accepted into the program after successfully submitting an article for publication for the application process. I joined the technology and innovation working group, and all 30 fellows spent the next several weeks preparing policy memos within their disciplines. Then the real fun started! At the end of February, we gathered in Germany to begin a weeklong tour, visiting Hamburg, Dresden, and Berlin, where we presented our ideas to these German leaders.

The trip was beyond exceptional! Certainly, the opportunity to challenge and debate experts was incredibly rewarding and broadened my perspective. But perhaps the best part was the truly exceptional fellows in the program. Not only are they knowledgeable and talented within their fields, but they are also thoughtful, dynamic, and engaging. By the end of the trip, I had substantially broadened my network and built new friendships. We are now finalizing our group memos, and on April 9th, a final joint memo will be released.
Me Presenting policy recommendations around trade
on tech innovation to the Chief of the State Chancellery
and State Minister, Dr. Fritz Jaeckel, in Dresden

But the Atlantic Expedition program doesn’t end here. This fall, a second expedition will travel to Chicago and Houston, and I cannot recommend the opportunity highly enough! The folks at Atlantische Initiative have put together an incredible program, and they’re seeking people of all backgrounds. Do not be discouraged if your area of expertise lies outside the typical transatlantic dialogue. Your ideas add value!

For the transatlantic partnership to grow and thrive, we need to embrace change and seek new ideas. This trip showed me the vastness of the challenge, but I remain optimistic. I saw real change happen when my grandmother sat down at a German table. The challenge for us is no greater than hers. And the people at Atlantische Initiative have given me a place to begin.

Below are more photos of Eric Swenson's trip. All photos in this article courtesy of Eric Swenson:

The Church of Our Lady in Dresden, which
burned during the bombing of Dresden
Interior View of the Church of Our Lady
in Dresden showing the stone altar and carvings

Rachel Hoff, Director of Defense Analysis at the American Action forum, presents defense recommendations at the Bundestag on the last day of the expedition

View of the Elbphilharmonic concert hall in Hamburg during a boat tour of Europe's second largest port

Hamburg's historic warehouse district along the waterfront

The Hamburg Waterfront

Atlantic Expedition fellows gathered to discuss the feedback received during presentations and to organize changes to the memo


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

EUC Graduate Research Associate Recognized with Awards for Leadership and Volunteer Service

The European Union Center would like to congratulate EUC Graduate Research Associate Alexandra van Doren for being named as the winner of the 2017 Graduate Student Leadership Award and for being recognized as the 2017 Graduate Student Volunteer of the Year.

The Graduate Student Leadership Award is presented by the University of Illinois Graduate College.  It is used to recognize the work and service of graduate students, especially leadership towards projects that have a positive impact at the University of Illinois and the Urbana-Champaign community.   The Office of Volunteer Programs presents various awards in recognition of individual and group volunteer efforts in the community.  

Alexandra is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative and World literatures.  Her research is focused on genocide and human rights, particularly the Holocaust.  She serves as a Graduate Research Associate at the EUC and has the responsibility of Associate Editor for the EUC Paper Series.

Alexandra has been recognized for her work towards creating a refugee welcome center.  Influenced by the Syrian refugee crisis of 2015, Alexandra founded the non-profit Three Spinners in January 2016.   This organization serves refugees in the Urbana-Champaign community by providing access to resources they need to start new lives here.  The organization is currently in the process of working towards establishing a Refugee Resettlement Program with other community organizations in Urbana-Champaign.

The EUC would like to congratulate Alexandra for her hard work and would like to extend best wishes to Three Spinners as the organization continues to make progress!

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Impact of Political Climate on the Resilience of Refugees, Unaccompanied Minors, and Immigrants - Brown Bag Panel

By Rachel Johannigmeier

On April 20th, I had the pleasure of attending a Brown-Bag event featuring a panel of experts who have worked with refugees, immigrants, and unaccompanied minors.  This event was put on by the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois and was co-sponsored by the European Union Center.

The panel of experts included Lucia Maldonado of the Urbana School District, Ha Ho of the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center, and Mike Doyle of the Campus YMCA.  Tara Powell of the School of Social Work acted as moderator and presented the initial questions to the panelists.

It was fascinating to hear from all the panelists as the services they offered were different from each other.  However, the emotions and concerns of the people they work with are very similar, especially with the uncertainty of policies from the current political administration.  In her experiences at the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance, Ha Ho noted that people used to come with questions with a clear goal in mind; now, the questions are uncertain because the future is uncertain for many immigrants.

Even in these times, there has still been a supportive response from community members in Champaign-Urbana.  Mike Doyle noted that he has never seen an issue that had brought in such a community response.

There are still areas that could use improvement.  Lucia Maldonado made the excellent point that there are still many gaps with regards to supporting processes such as medical procedures.  For example, there was an instance of one of her students who spent two weeks trying to obtain medical services and was hindered by many obstacles.

Near the end, the panelists addressed ways in which people can help.  Mike Doyle recommended supporting the organizations that are already providing services to the community.  While volunteering is a potential opportunity in the future, Mike Doyle recommended patience for those wanting to become volunteers; Organizations are trying to develop plans to best serve community, and at the moment may not have any volunteer opportunities.

Lucia Maldonado highlighted the need for respecting families and providing them with privacy in these times.  Also, for those involved in social work, it is incredibly important to explore what is currently offered and ask questions about the services they are not offering.

The discussion between audience and panelists was productive, and I learned a great deal about my community and steps to take to provide support for members of our community affected by the current political climate.  During the final question, Ha Ho reflected on the fact that while there are great parts of our country, we know that we could be better.  In these times, it is important to think critically and reflect on ways to improve services for all.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Award-winning UIUC Model European Union Finishes Season with Big Wins at Indiana University

Photo courtesy of Neil Vander Most
On April 22nd, the Model European Union Team for the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign finished its 2016-2017 season with more awards and recognition at the Midwest Model European Union tournament at Indiana University. The team, organized by the European Union Center and fully funded through its “Getting to Know Europe” grant from the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, was recognized as the second best team in the tournament, competing against 23 other teams from 17 different institutions. In addition to its group recognition, the following Illinois students were recognized for their superior work in their councils:

  • Emilee McArdle (Global Studies, French and Italian) – 3rd Place – Environment Council
  • Sonam Kotadia (Global Studies, Germanic Languages and Literatures) – 3rd Place – Justice and Home Affairs Council
  • Benjamin Norton (Mathematics) – 4th Place – Economics and Finance (EcoFin) Council
  • Justin Tomczyk (Political Science) – 5th Place – European Council

This recognition builds upon the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s success at the University of Pittsburgh’s 2017 Undergraduate Model EU Tournament. Held February 24-25, Justin Tomczyk was also recognized as one of five best speakers at that event.

The European Union Center’s Model EU program is one opportunity available to students interested in studying the European Union at UIUC. It works particularly well together with the EU Center’s new Five Year BA/MA program, which offers undergraduates the opportunity to take graduate courses during their senior year, opening up the possibility for these students to earn a MA in EU Studies in one year instead of two. Model EU allows these and other undergraduates the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the EU in an exciting, strategic environment. Additionally, the interpersonal experiences and public speaking skills developed through participating in Model European Union events can be applied beyond the classroom in a variety of settings after graduation.

The European Union Center is very proud of the excellent work its Model EU team has done this year, and looks forward to representing the academic excellence and European expertise of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign next year! The European Union Center will again be offering courses that incorporate Model EU next year, namely EURO 199 (Fall 2017) and EURO 490 (Spring 2018). Students are encouraged to enroll and participate in this valuable learning experience!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Could France be the next chapter in a populist surge?

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
This article was originally published on April 25, 2017 on the Illinois News Bureau. It has been republished here with permission. The original can be found here

By Craig Chamberlain

Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate in France’s presidential race, is a “major piece of the Western populism puzzle,” with influence that could have lasting consequences for France and the European Union, says Maxime Larivé, the associate director of the EU Center at the U. of I.

Two of 11 candidates are left standing after France’s first-round presidential election April 23: a far-right populist and a centrist never before elected to office. Voters will choose between them May 7, and the future of the European Union could be at stake. Maxime Larivé, the associate director of the EU Center at the University of Illinois, is a French citizen who has lived in the U.S. for 13 years. His research focuses on European security and defense policy, and he has studied public perceptions of the EU for the European Commission. He spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

What’s different in how France elects its president, versus the U.S.? And what’s different about this particular election?

All French elections – presidential, legislative and municipal – are organized around a two-round system featuring a broad range of parties, as opposed to the dual-party system in the U.S., with primaries and then one general election. The president is elected through a direct vote, rather than through an electoral college, and appoints a prime minister who forms the government.

This presidential election is quite interesting in that for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic, since 1958, neither a Republican nor Socialist candidate is present in the second round. For the first time, the two candidates, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! (Onwards) and Marine Le Pen of the Front National, embody the political anti-establishment.

Le Pen’s far-right message has gotten surprising traction in this election. Can she win?

In the era of Brexit and Trump, it is undeniable that Le Pen can become the next president of France. In 2002, her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, shocked France when he made it to the second round; it was considered an accident. In 2017, Marine Le Pen was expected to be in the second round and, in fact, to receive higher numbers and lead the first round. This was not the case, even though she managed to attract 21.4 percent of voters, the highest results in the FN’s history.

Historically, the FN was created as a counterforce on the extreme right, bringing in many pro-Vichy and pro-colonization sympathizers, among others. The self-conscious process of “dediabolization” (decontamination) of the party began in 2011 when Marine Le Pen inherited the leadership of the party. The only element that changed is the narrative and image of the party, while the substance of the political agenda remains true to its early days.

There was a terrorist incident in the heart of Paris just a few days before the recent vote. How much do you think that might have influenced the outcome?

The current climate in France and in Europe certainly plays in favor of the extreme right and even the conservative right. However, it is uncertain whether the recent attack, killing a policeman, affected the decision of the last undecided voters or attracted moderate right-wing voters towards Le Pen. Certainly, the attack plays in favor of her overall narrative of France on the brink of collapse, in a clash of civilization, a broken society. The use of fear as a political tool figures in the arsenal of extreme rights around the world.

Part of Le Pen’s popularity has been based on her suggestion that France leave the EU, and this follows Great Britain’s vote to do the same. How does this fit within her larger message?

Le Pen frames the world into a black-and-white portrait, patriots versus globalists. Her platform is embedded into the lost past of French grandeur and exceptionalism. The EU is the cause of all trouble, with its open borders, market economy and multiculturalism. She envisions a traditional France protected behind walls, with a protectionist trading model and a foreign policy balancing the U.S. and Russia. The Brexit vote was about regaining national sovereignty and full control of rules of governance.

With over 21 percent of the French electorate attracted by this argument, Le Pen is a major piece of the Western populism puzzle. Her influence is real, with potentially lasting consequences on France, the EU and the Western liberal order.

What do you think many Europeans are missing in their perception of the EU and its value?

The European Union offers a set of institutions and a framework solidifying peace and relative growth at home and national leverage on the international stage. However, the EU has a problem of perception and appeal at home. The domestic narratives across Europe are that Brussels governs and undermines national sovereignty.

Quite to the contrary, the European Union is the sum of its member states. The political decisions remain in the hands of the heads of state and government. In fact, the design of the EU has been effectuated over the last 60 years through intergovernmentalism and intense bargaining among member states.

To reach Maxime Larivé (pronounced la-REEV), call 217-265-8178; email; @MLarive on Twitter.

Larivé also provided his take on the French election in a segment on WBEZ’s Worldview program on April 24.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Is Democracy on the Wane in Turkey?

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Is Democracy on the Wane in Turkey?

By Craig Chamberlain, Social Sciences Editor at the Illinois News Bureau

Originally published on the Illinois News Bureau on 4/19/17. Republished here with permission.

Once hailed as a model for Islamic democracy,Turkey plays a key role in both the Syrian refugee crisis and the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State. On April 16, however, Turkish voters appear to have approved sweeping constitutional changes that many opponents and observers see as another big step in a years-long march toward authoritarianism under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. University of Illinois political science professor Avital Livny specializes in the study of Turkish identity politics and is finishing a book on Islamic-based activism in Turkey and the wider Muslim world. She spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

What were the key changes approved in the April 16 referendum?

The constitutional changes ranged from more minor administrative tweaks to major changes to the structure of political power in Turkey. The president’s role has been greatly expanded while the prime minister’s has been eliminated – the president will now serve as both head of state and head of government. He will also now have complete authority to appoint and remove cabinet members, as well as the vice president, a new position.

At the same time, he can now maintain an affiliation with a political party, and presidential and parliamentary elections will now take place in tandem, to the likely benefit of the president’s party. And while presidential decrees are now subject to judicial review, the constitutional court has been shrunk from 17 members to 15, with the president having the power to appoint 12 and parliament the remaining three. Meanwhile, the entire system of military courts has been dismantled.

How were these changes justified and what are the fears of opponents?

These changes have largely been justified as a necessary corrective to the 1982 constitution, put into place during Turkey’s last period of military rule. But last year’s failed coup attempt has also loomed large: Erdogan has argued that the fracturing of power under a parliamentary system is inherently destabilizing and that the concentration of power in the president’s hands is a safer bet in terms of security, as well as economic growth.

Opponents of the reform package are concerned about the removal of so many checks on the president’s authority, especially at the expense of the judiciary. With the new constitution in place, Erdogan will likely remain unchecked at the helm of the Turkish state until at least the next presidential election in 2019, if not beyond.

What happens now, especially given that opponents are questioning the legitimacy of the vote?

It is difficult to predict the future, but it seems likely that this will remain a contested issue for some time yet. While President Trump seems to have accepted the vote, a number of international organizations have questioned its validity. Regardless, I expect Erdogan’s government will push ahead with the changes, and opponents will have little recourse but to go forward. Protests will likely continue, probably with renewed fervor. But the imprisonment of members of the Kurdish political movement in Turkey speaks to the risks involved in even peaceful opposition.

How did the Kurds figure into this vote?

The Kurdish vote was always expected to play a large role in the outcome. Whereas Kurdish political leaders had called for the boycott of a referendum in 2010, they were explicit in their support for voting “no” this time around. That said, there were concerns that the Kurdish community, clustered in the southeastern regions of Turkey, could be disenfranchised. An analysis of the preliminary vote tallies would indicate that this may have been the case. Turnout was exceptionally low in many of these areas, and there were fewer "no" votes than would have been expected given past electoral results.

President Erdogan and his AKP party are Islamic in their ideology, in a country that has traditionally kept religion out of politics. Some might see that as a key factor in their moves toward centralized control. But is that the case?

My reading of the situation is that Islam played a negligible role in the most recent campaign. Instead, it would appear to have been a pretty straightforward power grab. There were at least a handful of references to Islam during the campaign, but I have seen little evidence that the centralization of power is aimed at installing a more religiously based political system in Turkey. Sure, Erdogan's government will continue making religiously laden statements or even small policy changes aimed at appeasing the more conservative members of its base, but this is a far cry from shari’a law – even if it may feel like a big shift away from Turkey’s staunchly secularist past.

Many people have viewed Erdogan’s success as evidence of a religious resurgence in Turkey. But you argue in your upcoming book that this trend, surprisingly, has little to do with faith. Can you explain?

The success of an Islamic-based party in Turkish politics, along with the rise of Islamic-based economics, has been a shock to observers and participants alike. But I have found little evidence that religiosity is on the rise in Turkey, nor do the most-pious people seem to be the main constituents of these Islamic-based groups.

Instead, it seems that references to Islam are less about advancing some sort of an Islamic agenda and more about solving a quintessential collective-action problem: large-scale political and economic activity requires that individuals trust one another enough to be willing to work together. But levels of interpersonal trust in Turkey are remarkably low. By referencing an identity that most voters and consumers have in common, Islamic-based movements are able to tap into the feelings of trust that people naturally have in members of their own identity group, making political and economic cooperation possible.

To reach Avital Livny, call 217-265-6796; email

Friday, April 14, 2017

EUC Washington D.C. Trip 2017 - Part Six - Atlantic Council

By Sonam Kotadia

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 25. This article is Part Six of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students. In this article, Sonam Kotadia discusses the trip to the Atlantic Council. Previous entries in the series can be found here. Entries on previous DC trips can be found here.

Our second meeting of the trip was at the Atlantic Council. A leading think tank in the field of international affairs, the Council was founded in 1961 in the hopes of bolstering transatlantic ties. In the past few decades, it has expanded its focus beyond Europe to include all corners of the globe. Nestled in the heart of DC, just a block away from K Street – the infamous lobbying district – the Council was a short, pleasant walk from the EU Delegation.

We had the pleasure of meeting with two staff members. They first introduced us to the history of the organization and a few of its current projects, most notably the Future Europe Initiative. Understandably of the most interest to us, this relatively new program focuses specifically on European and transatlantic affairs. One of our hosts then gave us her top tips for living and working as a young professional in the capital. A native of Slovakia, she provided insight into how non-US citizens can maneuver through and be successful in DC. She stressed the importance of internships and networking, a theme we would hear echoed over and over throughout the week. Afterwards, our other host gave us a brief rundown of what he believes are the most pressing challenges facing the EU. We had the opportunity to ask questions, which sparked some interesting and insightful discussion. Before we knew it, we ran out of time and had to hurry to our next appointment!

The trip to DC was a fantastic opportunity to learn about what career paths are available with a MA in European Union Studies. It could not have happened at a better time: I have recently begun to question whether I still want to pursue my previous career goals. After hearing the experiences of professionals in a wide range of positions and expertise, I feel more confident that I will find the right path for myself.

EUC Washington D.C. Trip - Part Five - Pew Research Center

By Jessica Mrase

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 25. This article is Part Five of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students. In this article, Jessica Mrase discusses the trip to Pew Research Center. Previous entries in the series can be found here. Entries on previous DC trips can be found here

This spring break I had the great honor of joining my fellow MAEUS students and Professor Vander Most on a trip to the nation’s capital to explore an array of careers that may appeal to our particular area of study. While in D.C., we had the opportunity to meet with several organizations, including the EU Delegation,  the Department of State, and the Library of Congress, as well as state offices in the Capitol. However, I was most interested in our final visit on our first day of appointments. Our last stop of the day was at the Pew Research Center where Jacob Poushter, Senior Researcher, welcomed us. He introduced the facility as a nonprofit fact tank that does not take a position in any policies. At Pew, experts conduct global public opinion research and focus on transatlantic issues. Mr. Poushter then gave a presentation on how staff members conduct their research and how that research is published.

As of its most recent annual report (Spring 2016), Mr. Poushter reviewed some of the highlights from the center’s European Public Opinion Survey. In the survey, several current topics were touched upon. Mr. Poushter discussed the presence of refugees and other minorities in Europe and the importance of language in national identity. He then continued to address the statistics based on survey results concerning Brexit and the recent U.S. presidential campaigns. As this report was published before the triggering of Article 50 and the U.S. election results and inauguration, Mr. Poushter is looking forward to further research exploring how Europeans will feel come this spring and the next.

The Pew Research Center’s website contains salient topics on all areas of the globe and are fascinating for anyone who may be interested in further research. The website also includes interactive tools where visitors are encouraged to participate in online polls. Under the “Careers” link on the website, Pew has listed internships for anyone considering learning about working for a fact tank. Pew is a fantastic resource for MAEUS students in the process of writing their theses or for anyone who is curious about statistics on current EU sentiments.

The full article detailing Mr. Poushter’s 2016 research can be found at under “Europeans Face the World Divided.”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

EUC Washington D.C. Trip 2017 - Part Four - Library of Congress

By Rafael Rodriguez

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 25. This article is Part Four of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students. In this article, Rafael Rodriguez discusses the trip to the Library of Congress. Previous entries in the series can be found here. Entries on previous DC trips can be found here.

As described in my statement of purpose to attend the trip, it is important to take full advantage of all the opportunities to create networks and establish new points of reference whether for academic or professional purposes. The trip to Washington D.C. opened a new opportunity for the students of the European Union Center to connect even better with each other and the faculty participating in the trip. Beyond that, we all had the chance to connect with very interesting people with professional paths that serve as an example for our future professional paths.

On the third day of our visit and as the last meeting of the day, we visited the Law Library of Congress. We were received by Dr. Jenny W. Gesley, Foreign Law Specialist; Luis Acosta, Chief of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Division; and Dante Figueroa, also Foreign Law Specialist. After the proper introductions, Mr. Acosta took some time to kindly present the way in which the website has been shaped to provide easy access for the public to the files in the library. As the largest law library in the world with a collection of about 5 million items, they told us about the type of relevant requests that they sometimes receive from different nation states, that, due to internal conflicts, have their files destroyed. The presentation was a systematic orientation on how to properly use the search engine of the website and even to request research assistance on US, foreign, international, and comparative law.

We found it very interesting that the services provided by the library go beyond a simple book keeping process. The Law Library of Congress offers, as mentioned, research assistance, but also in-classroom and virtual orientations, courses, and information sessions regarding legal research. They also provide constant connection with their public through email newsletters, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, the bulletin of their Global Legal Monitor, the development of a mobile application, and programs and events organized annually to strengthen the understanding of global legal issues. One of those technological aspects that I found very relevant for today’s society, is their blog titled “In Custodia Legis”, in which several articles are posted regarding global legal matters, congress developments, and legal history with different international perspectives.

To conclude our visit to the library, Mr. Clifton Brown, an employee at the library for more than 30 years, gave us a tour of the basement of the library where most of the archives are. We could look at books more than 2 centuries old, and we saw the incredible level of organization that the library has gone through to keep records and easy access to the files. In summary, this was one of the most interesting meetings since we got to understand better the relevance of the Library of the Congress and some of the specifics of why it is currently the biggest law library in the world.

For more information on the different services offered by the library:

Cookie Settings