Europe would seem like a natural home for anyone interested in EU research, but there are many scientists in the world who study Europe at a distance. There are even students leaving Europe to get a better look at the affairs of the European Union.
“The great advantage is knowing how a world power like the United States looks at Europe,” said Elijah Balaris, who studied political science and public administration in Athens, then law in Nicosia, before joining the EU’s master’s program in research at the University of Illinois. . in Urbana-Champaign. “I believe this is a clearer and much more objective view, far removed from political debates against national versus supranational or narrow regionalist or nationalist prejudices, evident, for example, in the way German elites describe the current situation in the Mediterranean.” .
And if a trip to the west involves an accelerated course on U.S. policy, so much the better, says Simona Kaiser, who came to Illinois after studying conference translation in Graz, Austria. “Studying the EU in the US has a good side effect if you learn a lot about the US political system, institutions and policies, especially in different areas such as social and labor policy, environmental standards and government.”
Both students started with personal connections that planted a grain of learning in the US, but the final decision was strategic.
“I wouldn’t have enrolled in any other program,” says Kaiser, “and I probably wouldn’t have moved to the United States at all, but I would have decided to try my luck at a competition for a conference interpreting service in the EU.”
Master’s degrees in European Studies in the United States often take an approach to the study of the field, covering the history, politics, culture and languages of the region more broadly than programs in Europe. Illinois is something of an exception, offering a master’s degree that deals with the European Union, covering its history, institutions, governance and politics. Despite this, there are differences.
“Naturally, we are particularly interested in transatlantic relations, not just in the internal dynamics of Europe or European integration,” said Matt Rosenstein, director of postgraduate studies at the European Union University Center. “We also approach EU research relatively, quite possibly, with a greater emphasis on this approach than a student in Europe.” Federalism, for example, can be seen in both the EU and the US context.
View from New Zealand
The benefits of another point of view also apply in New Zealand. “The EU’s external perception may be quite different – and sometimes more lenient – from an internal perspective,” said Martin Holland, director of the National Center for European Studies at the University of Canterbury. “Students who are interested in EU global policy such as development or CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] or in the concept of a “Europe of normative power”, have the advantage of seeing firsthand how far the EU message is heard – or ignored – outside the EU-28 ”.
This external perspective is embedded in undergraduate and postgraduate programs across the EU. “Topics that may seem like the EU’s internal affairs – such as agriculture or the eurozone – are being further explored from an external perspective: how is this policy affecting our region?” Holland says.
As in the US, local comparisons are important. For example, if we talk about Europe’s approach to integration, it is useful to look for parallels in ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
So far, most of the center’s international students have earned PhDs, both from the EU and its neighbors and from Asia. But Holland hopes that will change. “We are just about to launch a new one-year EU master’s degree in the Asia-Pacific region, and hopefully this will prove to be an innovative and attractive option for EU students.”