Political Science at UWindsor

EU Study Abroad Program


University of Windsor/Western University

14th Annual

European Union Study Abroad Program

May 5 - May 18, 2024


At NATO headquarters in May 2023


     POLS 4880

"The EU as a Global Actor"

 About the Program               

One of the best ways to gain an understanding of a society—perhaps the best way—is to meet its people, experience in person its streetscapes and soundscapes, and have the opportunity to question and hear from its own experts at their places of work. One acquires from such an experience a depth of knowledge and an appreciation of the lived reality of another society.  Being there, immersed in a society, its culture and its daily rhythms, can transform knowledge into 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--now in its second half-century--continues to evolve. 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 in your studies or along your career path.

This is not a classroom-based course. Our program’s model involves experiential learning and an immersive cultural experience. With the exception of an annual lecture from a professor at the College of Europe, the rest of our 14-day program consists of briefings from policy-makers, administrators, politicians, diplomats, journalists and NGO researchers at their places of work. This keeps us constantly on the go, travelling between locations and institutions by train, metro and on foot. This movement is, in fact, part of your cultural immersion. You will experience personally and on a daily basis the rhythms of life in Belgium and in Brussels, the administrative capital of Europe.

The itinerary, which will be available by the end of March 2024, will include about 40 hours of meetings with officials of all the major EU institutions and NATO, the Canadian, Russian, UK, Chinese and Turkish country missions to the EU, and spokespersons for many NGOs, including International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, the World Wildlife Fund 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 to Antwerp, where we will visit the Stadhuis (City Hall) and the ModeMuseum (Fashion Museum of Antwerp).

Students will stay at the Irish College (https://irishcollegeleuven.eu/) in Leuven, which is home to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. KUL is one of Europe’s great universities, founded in 1425. Its past reputation was based mainly on philosophy and theology. In recent decades, however, 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.

At the German Permanent Delegation to the EU
with Ambassador Thomas Ossowski


What some participants have 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


Program Requirements

1. Attendance at two pre-departure meetings to be held in Windsor, London students joining online, in the winter 2024 semester.

2. Research paper (15 pages), due no later than June 17th: 60%

3. Journal or blog (short daily entries, involving your reflections on program activities: total length 5-7 pages), due no later than June 17th: 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 must be sent in Word or PDF format.

UWindsor’s Go Global Scholarships

University of Windsor students may apply for a Go Global Scholarship. The amount can be considerable, as indicated in the table below. My understanding is that most eligible students should qualify for at least the $500 scholarship. I will make more information available, including deadlines and how to apply, by January 2024.


Go Global Scholarship Amounts

                                                                                                          Student Group                                                                                                                                Amount

Indigenous 3,000
Students with a disability 3,000
Low Income 3,000
Eligible - First Year 1,000
Eligible - Second Year 500
Eligible - Third Year 500
Non-eligible 0




The Oude Markt in Leuven, Belgium

This is the Oude Markt, a two-minute walk from where our group stays. It is a traditional meeting place for students.


At the Russian Mission to the EU in May 2022. We did not visit in 2023. We’ll see about 2024.


This Year’s Program 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.

At the House of European History, Parc Léopold, a favorite place for lunch in the EU Quarter (May 2022: It was too rainy for a good photo in May 2023!)


Suggested research paper topics

  • 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, two years after the formal divorce
  • EU-Russia relations
  • EU-China relations
  • Can an integrated EU security policy and military force under a unified command replace state sovereignty or reliance on NATO?
  • The role of human rights in the EU’s foreign policy
  • The War in Ukraine and the EU’s response                                                                                                                                                               

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 me 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.

At the Chinese Mission to the EU in May 2023, where two of our students had the opportunity to give a presentation

Suggested Readings

Simon Usherwood and John Pinder, The European Union: A Very Short Introduction, 4th ed. (Oxford University Press):

Resources that may be useful for your paper

Oxford University Press provides links to useful online resources:http://https://global.oup.com/uk/orc/politics/eu/eupolitics/resources/weblinks1/
On EU foreign policy, the College of Europe and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven offer an excellent website: http://www.eufp.eu/



Some students decide to visit other places after the program.  These ones did!


For more information, contact 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 21, 2023.

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 2024 program may be made as early as late December, 2023. 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 Mid-January, 2024. The precise date and manner of payment will be announced.

Information on the estimated cost of the program may be found here:  COST ESTIMATE