The European Union Center (EUC) has been a focal point for teaching, research, and outreach on Europe and the European Union at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign since 1998. The center received news that their proposal for a new Jean Monnet Center of Excellence grant under the European Commission Erasmus+ Program was awarded. This will be the third time the EUC has been awarded this grant, under the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Program. The first was in 2011.
The current grant was awarded to the EUC for the project "Sustainable Methods for Adapting & Adopting Regional Technologies" (SMAART). This project focuses on the identification of best practices to encourage democratic interaction and adoption of new technologies among marginalized communities, urban and rural. "Our goal as an Area Center is to help as many faculty and students on campus to participate and learn from the European experience in the implementation of the Green New Deal. Both those who are interested in environmental policies and those interested in the EU should find something of interest in our planned activities," said Emanuel Rota, director of the EUC. Since the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is recognized as an international hub for research in science and technology, focusing on the European Green Deal will capitalize on the collaborations, research, and innovations that the university is known for. The European Green Deal recognizes climate change and environmental degradation as an existential threat to Europe and the world and aims to improve the well-being and health of citizens and future generations.
The EU Center hosts events and discussions concerning politics, science, and cultural implications of the overall Green Deal project. The grant provides support for a number of these outreach initiatives, including the discussions and workshops. In the fall of 2020, the EU Center hosted a discussion with former members of the European Parliament titled, "Technology and Sustainability in the EU," and a summer curriculum workshop in June 2021 titled "Teaching the European Green Deal: Science, Economics, Policy." The EUC website also lists a number of important lectures and academic events surrounding the European Green Deal.
Support for research and events like those listed above provide opportunities for engagement to UIUC faculty and the larger community. The EUC is a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center, which allows the center to provide Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships to both undergraduate and graduate students at UIUC. The EUC is also home to the only Master of Arts program in European Union Studies in the United States. Other EU Center initiatives include outreach to K-12 educators and students through the Transatlantic Educators Dialogue program and the Transatlantic Educators Lecture Series, both of which aim to help teachers form new professional networks in both the United States and Europe; and through the Illinois High School Translation Competition, which aimed to promote the study of five less commonly taught European languages in Illinois schools.
For more information about the European Union Center, the European Green Deal, or any of the EUC outreach and initiatives, please visit the EUC’s website at europe.illinois.edu.