Educators in Brussels EU Visit Program

Dr. Allison Jansen Q&A

Allison Jansen PhotoWhat are your general thoughts on the program?

The EU Study Tour in Brussels provides undergrads, students transitioning to graduate programs, and faculty in undergraduate education a wonderful up-close look at the European Union, its workings, and its history.  My experience as a Comparative Politics faculty member is that Americans have a very limited understanding of the European Union and its significant roles as a world actor, as a trade partner, and as an institution that has significantly contributed to European unity following centuries of conflict.  The program is especially useful for anyone teaching about, or pursuing a research interest in, the EU.

How does your teaching tie to the program?

I have been teaching about the EU in my Comparative Politics classes for many years.  The EU is only one part of this comprehensive course and it is always challenging to stay current with states around the world as well as with the EU.  I feel significantly updated on the treaty provisions of the EU, the current politics, and many EU programs.  I will spend next fall quarter teaching in Barcelona as part of a Washington state community college study abroad program.  I will have the opportunity to teach Comparative Politics to Americans in an EU member state.  The course will have a special focus on Spain and the EU.  Knowledge gained from the EU study tour will prove invaluable.

What interesting experiences did you have?

Site visits and presentations at the three major EU institutions were supplemented with visits to the European Network Against Racism, the Bruegel think tank, the Directorate General for Education and Culture, the European External Action Service, and the United States Mission to the EU.  All of these site callings were packed with useful information.  This 2016 tour coincided with the Brexit vote, so everything was tinged with an air of anticipation and uncertainty.  The international media converged en masse on the plaza in front of the European Commission, just down the street from our hotel.  It was an especially interesting time to be in Brussels!  There was also time in the evenings to see the sights in Brussels.  It is a fun city!

Do you have recommendations for future educators who go on the trip?

It is worthwhile to read up on the latest issues EU issues before going.  A Facebook group was set up for our participants before we left and we were able to share articles and discussions.  Brexit, of course, dominated our discussions.  Anyone who goes should take the opportunity to travel at one end or the other of the study tour to drink in more of the European experience!