A FLAS Fellow's Semester Abroad in Amman

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

Master of Arts in European Union Studies

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

Reading Contagion through Boccaccio's Decameron

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

Conversations on Europe

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

COVID-19 and Liberal Democracy in Hungary

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

Videos of Previous Lectures

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

Thursday, 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!

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