Political Science at UWindsor

EU Study Abroad Program

University of Windsor/University of Western Ontario 12th Annual European Union Study Abroad Program (3-16 May, 2020)

"EU as a Global Actor"

About the Program

To truly understand a society there is no substitute for actually spending time there—meeting its people, experiencing its sights and sounds, and having the opportunity to question and hear from its own experts where they live and work. One gains from such an experience an understanding and appreciation of the lived realityof another society. This is something that cannot be acquired from books or in a classroom that is thousands of miles from the subject that one is studying. Being there, immersed in a society, its culture and its daily rhythms, can transform knowledgeinto understanding. 

This is what our European Union Study Abroad Program aims to achieve: an understanding and an appreciation of the texture of EU politics and the context within which this remarkable  if occasionally troubled enterprise in integration is unfolding. Of course this understanding cannot be achieved in mere weeks! But it is a beginning. And for those of you who wish to take the next step, building on what you have learned about European politics and the challenges facing the EU, this EU Study Abroad Program should help take you to this next level of understanding. 

This is not a classroom-based course. The itinerary, which will be available by the end of March 2020, will include about 40 hours of meetings with officials of all the major EU institutions and NATO, the Canadian, US, Russian, UK, Chinese and Turkish country missions to the EU, and spokespersons for many NGOs, including International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and Payoke, as well as media persons. Cultural activities are included, including a day trip to Bruges, where we will also have a meeting at the College of Europe, and Paris, which is a jam-packed cultural day. A breakdown of estimated costs is available here.

What happens after this experience is up to you. You may decide to spend a semester or full year studying in Europe. You may become interested in a career in international business, diplomacy or the media, focusing on Europe. But whatever you do in your future studies and career, you will be enriched by the experience of living for a couple of weeks in one of Europe’s oldest and most renowned university towns, Leuven, Belgium, minutes by train from Brussels, the administrative seat of the EU and the crossroads of modern Europe.

Students will stay at the Irish College (www.leuveninstitute.eu) in Leuven, home of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. KUL is one of Europe’s great universities, founded in 1425. Although its past reputation was based mainly on philosophy and theology, in recent decades KUL also has been known for work in such fields as international law, political science and sociology, engineering and medicine. It has been a magnet for scholars and students since the days of Erasmus and is today, in fact, a member of the Erasmus network that enables European students to take courses toward their degrees at major universities across Europe.

2019 EU Study Abroad Program Participants in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

2019 EU Study Abroad Program group at the Arc de Triomphe, France.

What some of the 2018 participants said about the program

This is a program that has truly changed my life as it has made once seemingly distant ambitions seem much more achievable and it has given me an insight into the European Union that I would not have otherwise been able to receive. From our meeting at NATO to our interactions with the staff at the various foreign missions, this trip has been the most transformative experience in my academic career.  —University of Windsor student

Going beyond the specifics of what I learned at the various institutions that we visited, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to not only experience these incredible institutions and to shape my views on European and global politics both but to have challenged myself socially and culturally by traveling to new parts of the world. I had the great pleasure to meet and connect with students from different ethnicities and backgrounds, all of whom had found themselves in this course for a variety of diverse reasons. I got to spend my time with an exceptionally bright and eager to learn group of students and that will forever be my greatest takeaway from this trip.  —Western University student

2019 EU Study Abroad Participants at the European Parliament

The EU Parliament Hemicycle, visited by the group on the second day of the program

Program Requirements

1. Attendance at two pre-departure meetings to be held in Windsor and London in the winter 2020 semester 

2. Research paper (15 pages), due no later than June 15th: 60% 

3. Journal or blog (short daily entries, involving your reflections on program activities: total length 5-7 pages), due no later than June 15th: 20% *

4. Participation (attending all sessions and cultural activities): 20%*

* Requirements #3 and #4 are pass/fail. You must submit a journal/blog and you must attend all program activities, unless illness prevents you from doing so. Your numerical grade for the course is based on the research paper, requirement #2.

The paper and your journal should be sent in Word or PDF format.

The Oude Markt in Leuven, Belgium

University students throng to the cafés during the exam period, when our group is in Belgium. This is the Oude Markt, a few minutes from where our group stays.

This Year’s Theme:  The EU as a Global Actor

From modest beginnings in 1950 as the European Coal and Steel Community, with a membership of six states and functions that were limited to trade and economics, the EU has evolved into an association of 27 member-states (as this is written we are assuming that the UK will, in fact, leave the EU, as a majority of Britons voted to do in the June 2016 referendum) representing an economic market of over 400 million people.  Since the 1990s the EU has been taking steps toward playing a more active role in the world, developing aspects of a unified approach to world and regional issues that goes beyond the foreign policies of its member-states.  In this course we will examine such questions as the degree to which collective EU action has and can replace that of sovereign member-states when it comes to external relations; the role and effectiveness of the EU in certain international conflicts, humanitarian crises, international terrorism and in particular regions of the world; and whether the EU represents a new form of influence in the world and has the potential to rival or even replace the United States as the voice of western democratic values.

The EU as a global actor has been our central theme for the past few years, which means a special focus on the activities of the European External Action Service, the EU's counterpart to the US State Department. But as is the case every year we will spend much of our time examining the institutions and processes of the EU and certain other international institutions in order to arrive at a better appreciation of the nature of international governance.

2019 EU Study Abroad Participants at the EEAS in Brussels, BelgiumAt the

European External Action Service, the EU's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

About the Paper

Suggested topics include the following:

  • Parties, Ideologies and Coalitions in the EU Parliament: How Does It All Work?
  • Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once asked, “When I want to talk to Europe, who do I call?”  Who would the Secretary of State call today and why?
  • Conflicting visions between member-states of the EU.
  • The EU without the UK: Who wins and who loses?
  • EU-Russia relations.
  • EU-China relations.
  • Can an integrated EU security policy and military force under a unified command replace state sovereignty over these matters?
  • The role of human rights in the EU’s foreign policy.

Some of you have backgrounds and interests outside of political science and international relations. If anyone would like to explore the possibility of a format other than the research paper or a topic other than the options listed above, you need only contact us about this. Over the years we have found that most students make up their minds about their paper topic by week two of the program, after having attended meetings and talked to various speakers and to their fellow students about what they've seen and heard.

Suggested Readings

2019 EU Study Abroad Program Participants in front of the Chinese Mission to the EU

2019 EU Study Abroad Program group at the Chinese Mission to the EU.

For more information, contact Dr. Stephen Brooks at brooks3@uwindsor.ca

University of Windsor students: To apply, download the application form here, complete it, and email it to Dr. Brooks at brooks3@uwindsor.ca no later than December 23, 2019.

Western University students: You must apply through Western International. Click on https://www.uwo.ca/international/learning/go_abroad/facultyled_programs.html, then click on Atlas and enter the keyword "Belgium." 

Offers of acceptance for the 2020 program may be made as early as late December, 2019. We endeavor to have roughly equal numbers of students from Windsor and Western, the two partner institutions in this program. 

Those accepted into the program will be required to pay a $300 non-refundable deposit toward the cost of accommodation by the end of January, 2020. The precise date and manner of payment will be announced. 

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