"Dispatches from Europe" Blog Contest

Are you planning on traveleling to the European Union this summer? Submit a post to be featured on our Across the Pond blog and win prizes!

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Blogs

The third Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class traveled to the Arctic Circle in summer 2014. Check out their blog entries from this summer!

Ringing the Bells at the Banner of Peace

Landscape Architecture Doctoral candidate Caroline Wisler reflects on her travels to Bulgaria.

Zach Grotovsky's Summer 2013: 14 Cities, 15 Weeks, One Long Adventure

University of Illinois graduate student in Germanic Literatures and Languages Zach Grotovsky documents his travels throughout Eastern Europe in the summer of 2013.

Polar Bears

The Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class spotted polar bears in Norway!

Peaceful Opposition in Izmir

MAEUS student Levi Armlovich describes his experiences with the protests in Izmir, Turkey.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nordic Exposure

EU Center-affiliated faculty member Anna Stenport and many others at UI are developing the Illinois-Sweden Program for Educational Research Exchange (INSPIRE) partnership with KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and additional collaborators in Sweden. The partnership emerged in part with EUC support and hosting of a delegation from the Swedish embassy, including the Swedish ambassador, for EU Day 2009.

This article originally appeared in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) News, University of Illinois, May 2011, and was authored by Dave Evensen.

After a long winter you may shudder to hear this, but much learning remains to be done in the lands of ice and snow. Thanks to a budding partnership at the University of Illinois, however, that task is getting more exciting, and it leads through Sweden.

Researchers and educators across campus are expecting valuable opportunities to rise from a trans-Atlantic collaboration with KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm that has roots in the College of LAS. The partnership, which has been forming rapidly during the past several months, will allow Illinois to share expertise with a part of the world where studies in energy, humanities, information and communications, materials, medicine and biotechnology, and transportation are highly advanced.

The partnership, named Illinois-Sweden Program for Educational Research Exchanged (INSPIRE), could also provide Illinois researchers and students with a new access point to the Arctic Circle, making for chilly but beneficial study-abroad and research possibilities.

“Even with the University of Illinois’s comprehensive educational and academic programs, there is relatively little taught at Illinois and relatively little research pursued that pertains to northern-most Europe,” says Anna Stenport, professor of Scandinavian studies and one of the chief organizers of INSPIRE.

“One of the motivators for me has been to increase knowledge of and exposure to the Nordic region for the University of Illinois student population and also its faculty researchers,” she adds. Stenport, a native of Sweden, has worked closely with Harry Dankowicz, professor of mechanical science and engineering, and who also hails from Sweden, to pull the partnership together.

The partnership began somewhat fortuitously in 2009 when a delegation from the Swedish embassy, including the Swedish ambassador, visited the U of I campus. Later, when KTH made known that they wanted to partner with institutions in the United States, a Swedish embassy staff member, who had visited campus during the 2009 visit, suggested Illinois.

Once the connection occurred, the idea grew, with collaboration amongst the Colleges of LAS, Engineering, Fine and Applied Arts, Media, and the Graduate College, along with the Chancellor’s office, International Programs and Studies, European Union Center, and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. In December 2010, KTH sent a delegation for a symposium at Illinois, and another symposium is scheduled this month in Stockholm to organize the effort.

Organizers hope the partnership will grow to include other educational institutions across northern Europe. Bruce Fouke, professor of geology and microbiology, recently received a research fellowship from Lund University in Lund, Sweden, and he believes INSPIRE is a “perfect” model for what he and other researchers are trying to achieve in Scandinavia.

“Sweden is traditionally a powerhouse in the natural sciences and they’ve just made some recent nationwide commitments to get seriously involved with space exploration,” Fouke says.
Through the partnership, Fouke, Stenport, Dankowicz, and others have been planning an Arctic field course that involves studying everything from microbial life to environmental change to the cultures of indigenous communities.

“We had this instant catalysis of interest due to major initiatives both in the U.S. and Sweden that were naturals to work together,” Fouke says. “And I think this is going to lay many years of very dynamic initiatives—both research and teaching—between our campus and Sweden.”

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Illini in Belgium

A delegation of students and faculty from the University of Illinois traveled to Belgium in May 2011 as part of the International Business Immersion Program (IBIP), which featured a course and study tour focusing on European agricultural production and business. The IBIP Europe Immersion Program 2011 was organized by Professor Andrea Martens and Meredith Blumthal, and sponsored by the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences and the College of Business, and co-sponsored by the European Union Center (EUC) and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

Pictured above: IBIP Europe Immersion Program 2011 students are joined at a Friends and Alumni Reception, including Baron Piet van Waeyenberge (front row, center), a 1961 alumnus of the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE); Maurice House, Minister Counselor for Agriculture of the US Mission to the EU and ACE alumnus from the 1980s; and Professor Emeritus Joseph V. Leunis, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and ACE alumnus from the 1960s. Also pictured are IBIP Director Andrea Martens (front row, far left); EUC Director Bryan Endres (back row, second from right), and CIBER Associate Director Lynnea Johnson (middle row, third from right). 

Below, IBIP students and organizers in the grand square in Brussels.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Connecting Students from Illinois and Turkey

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois is exploring future collaborations and potential student exchanges with Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Pictured: EUC Director Bryan Endres (third from right) and Jerry Vassalla, EUC student in the Master of Arts in EU Studies (far left), had two days of meetings with students and faculty of the Master of Arts Program in European Studies and the Department of Political Science and International Relations on the Boğaziçi University campus.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Making Music, not Malice, Together: the European Union Capital of Culture in Essen, Germany

by Renée Gordon Holley

Amid fears of terrorist attacks and increasingly public xenophobia in Germany, tensions have grown as this founding member of the European Union and world economic leader has increasingly taken on burdens in the current financial crisis, aiding in the bail-out of Greece and now Ireland. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s declaration that multiculturalism has utterly failed in this ethnically diverse nation reflects growing concerns throughout Europe regarding uniting people from various cultures. In contrast to these dark political clouds, my field research in Germany during summer 2010 took place among celebrations, accompanied by World Cup vuvuzelas, cheering soccer fans, German flags everywhere, and news reports that Germany’s ethnically diverse team was an exemplary model of how the country had finally learned to work together with its many minorities.

Although the 2010 World Cup was an entertaining backdrop for the two and a half months I spent in Northern Westphalia last summer, the main object of my pre-dissertation research was the musical events of the EU’s Capital of Culture program. The EU’s recent participation in cultural policy has produced programs and agendas that simultaneously strive to preserve the cultural diversity of its members while highlighting common cultural threads throughout Europe. The EU’s main effort in this regard and most widely recognized program is the European Capital of Culture. Every year, several member states are selected to host an elaborate year-long series of cultural events. Cities in these countries compete for this honor in a similar style to that of Olympic cities. Along with Pécs, Hungary and Istanbul, Turkey, Essen, Germany and the entire Ruhr Region generated a rich program incorporating every aspect of culture.

As a musicologist, I am interested in the musical life of other nations and in learning about how assorted musical styles and performers contribute to the discourses of music, politics, and culture. My association with the EU Center and coursework specifically on the policies and structure of the European Union led me to consider how this institution adds to and amends the musical cultures found in its member states, especially Germany. An appropriate combination of music and EU policies made the Capital of Culture a dynamic stage where challenges regarding an aging population, cultural diversity, economic downturn, and industrial re-imagination were acted out by area orchestras, teenage pop singers, church organists, ravers, and sound sculptors.

Touted as one of the top highlights of Essen’s program, the !SING – Day of Song brought together hundreds of choirs from Europe and beyond. The four-day event featured over sixty-six individual choral performances and sing-alongs. On June 5, as over 50,000 amateur and professional singers gathered at the Veltins Soccer Arena in Gelsenkirchen, international star Bobby McFerrin and the Bochum Symphony orchestra accompanied us as young and old joined in singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and the Beatles’ “Let it Be.” Germany has a long history of choral singing, where amateurs sang together with hopes to strengthen a sense of German identity and political consciousness in its members and the nation as a whole. The !SING events and many of the other concerts and performances held in Essen this summer worked to unite the community and reach out to its neighbors. This demonstration of music’s role in shaping and influencing Germany’s and the EU’s citizens shows how they might move forward in the years to come, isolating and tackling political, social, and economic struggles through music.

Renée Holley is a doctoral student in musicology at the University of Illinois and an EU Center FLAS Fellow. Her pre-dissertation research was supported by a DAAD German Studies Research Grant. Next school year she plans on completing dissertation research in Bonn, Germany, analyzing music’s relationship to regional, national, and EU cultural policy agendas.