CHAMPAIGN, Ill. The European Union Center at the University of Illinois has received renewed funding from the Delegation of the European Union Commission.
The center, one of 10 established at U.S. universities and funded by an initial grant from the Washington, D.C.-based E.U. Commission in 1998, will receive $175,000 over three years. It is among 15 centers nationwide that have been awarded grants for the three-year period, which begins in 2001. Eight of the originally funded centers received grant renewals, and another seven new centers were established.
The university's E.U. Center is administered by International Programs and Studies and includes faculty members from the colleges of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Commerce and Business Administration; Communications; Engineering; Fine and Applied Arts; Law; and Liberal Arts and Sciences.
"The E.U. Center is an important academic unit offering university students, faculty and staff new opportunities for education, research and public engagement related to
U.S.-European Union relations," said Earl Kellogg, IPS director and associate provost for international affairs.
Urban and regional planning professor Kieran Donaghy, who succeeded economics professor Larry Neal as director of the E.U. Center this fall, said the E.U. Commission's renewal of the grant indicates that the center is making progress toward the commissions original goal of making U.S. citizens more aware of issues facing the E.U. and its member nations.
"We have succeeded in delivering on all objectives of the first three-year period, and the E.U. Commission is interested in seeing us continue to succeed," Donaghy said. "In the next funding period, we seek to develop an E.U. concentration for undergraduates, and work closely with K-12 educators to get more E.U. content into middle school and high school curricula. We also plan to promote broader understanding in Illinois of developments in the E.U., develop several research concentrations in which we enjoy a comparative advantage, and make the transition to being a self-supported, self-sustaining center."
Under Neal's leadership, the center focused primarily on graduate-level programs, establishing an interdisciplinary graduate research seminar on the E.U. and E.U.-U.S. relations. It also funded research travel grants, conducted conferences and workshops on special topics, such as the effects on agribusiness of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the introduction of the euro, a common currency that will begin circulating in E.U. countries Jan. 1. The center also hosted European ambassadors and delegation representatives at an annual "European Union Day," and promoted awareness of developments in the E.U. to Illinois business leaders, as well as to the public at large.
Donaghy said it will become increasingly important in the future for Illinois citizens to stay abreast of political, economic and social issues affecting E.U. nations.
"The E.U. and the U.S. are roughly comparable in size of population and size of economy," he said. "We share many vital common interests and are more interdependent than ever before. Because we are so interdependent, we must confront together many critical issues in such policy areas as international security, economic stability, environmental sustainability, and agricultural and industrial production and trade.
"Our ability to share in peace and prosperity will depend in large part on our ability to achieve greater common understanding and cooperation. E.U. centers such as ours help to prepare students, faculty and the broader community to participate more fully and with greater understanding in developments that affect both the U.S. and E.U."