Maxwell School’s European Union Center educates Americans about complex institution
Maxwell School’s European Union Center educates Americans about complex institutionJanuary 14, 2002Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
With the January 1 introduction of the euro as currency in 12 of the 15 nations that belong to the European Union, Americans may be confused about where to turn for information on the new currency, the EU itself and the implications of both for businesses and individuals in the United States. In the Northeast, they can turn to the European Union Center of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.
The European Commission of the European Union has awarded the Maxwell School a three-year grant of approximately $500,000 to create the center within the school’s Global Affairs Institute. The commission has funded 15 centers across the U.S. to advance research, education and public awareness of the EU and to strengthen transatlantic relations.
The establishment of the center is part of the EU’s attempt to educate Americans about itself, according to Craig Parsons, director of the new center and an assistant professor of political science at Maxwell. “Even in Europe, few people really understand the intricacies of the European Union,” Parsons says. “It’s immensely complicated. It’s something like a weak federal government, but it’s also like an international organization.”
The American program is a smaller version of massive programs in Europe intended to familiarize citizens with the institution that will affect their lives in profound ways, Parsons says.
Maxwell won the grant in the second round of funding by the EU. Eight of the 15 centers were established in the first round in 1998. Maxwell did not apply for funding in the first round. In 2004, Maxwell can apply for and additional three-year grant. After that, it is assumed the center will have found other sources of funding.
Margaret Hermann, professor of political science and director of the Global Affairs Institute, observes that “Maxwell winning this grant recognizes the strength of the school’s Europe-focused research and teaching. At the same time, it will greatly enhance our European expertise–both through the center’s direct activities and through the networks connecting the 15 EU centers and European institutions.”
Building on international areas in which Maxwell is already an academic leader, the Maxwell EU Center is focusing on four core issues: European security and peacekeeping, transatlantic trade, comparative social policy and inequality, and public administration. The center supports visiting scholars, faculty research, a seminar series, student internships and research in Europe and expanded EU-related teaching.
Visiting scholars during the Fall 2001 semester included Andrew Moravcsik of Harvard, John Micklewright of UNICEF, Sheri Berman of Princeton, Neill Nugent of Manchester Metropolitan University and John Gillingham of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Programs include the Globalization Balance Sheet, led by J. David Richardson, professor of economics; the Luxembourg Income Study, led by Timothy M. Smeeding, professor and director of the Center for Policy Research; and Diffusion of Social Policy, led by Mitchell A. Orenstein, assistant professor of political science.
Of the 15 EU Centers around the United States, the Maxwell EU Center represents a large section of the northeast and is the only center north of New York City and Pittsburgh. In this role, the Maxwell EU Center is assembling a “virtual college” of European specialists at more than 100 universities in the area, connected in an electronic network and through the center’s conferences and other meetings. European universities and scholars will also be connected to the network.