Skip to main content

A New Focus on Europe

by Jocelyn Stayner

recent boom in BYU’s foreign studies originated from the Kennedy Center. By encouraging students and faculty alike to think Europe, the Center for the Study of the Europe (CSE) has sparked, maintained, and expanded research activities across campus. Though newly established, the center has been busy: reaching thousands of Deseret News subscribers and elementary teachers; developing a broader base of resources and courses; providing increased funding for research; and offering more opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience—all exclusively relating to Europe. CSE has five main objectives:

1) Expand language offerings to accommodate growing demand

2) Reinforce non-language offerings in European studies

3) Support scholarly inquiry

4) Develop new linkages and internship opportunities

5) Extend the breadth and depth of outreach efforts

Through its efforts to achieve these objectives, the center hopes to expand its influence on European scholarship at BYU and beyond.

Forming the Center

The idea of CSE evolved from the needs of BYU scholars. “BYU has always had great strength in European studies, but I think in a way the whole was less than thesum of its parts—things were scattered,” explained Wade Jacoby, CSE director. Though strong in European scholarship, BYU lacked cross-campus scholarly unity. “It’s a big campus with a lot of students and we—a group of faculty—saw the Title VI grants as a way to bring the campus together,” Jacoby affirmed. The Title VI grant—awarded by the government every four years to create National Resource Centers (NRCs) housed at universities all over the U.S.—was an answer to the problem.

The BYU group, which also included Professors Hans-Wilhelm Kelling, Paul Kerry, Jerry Jaccard, and Kristie Seawright, successfully applied for the Title VI grant along with an additional grant giving scholarship money to graduate students studying foreign languages. Both enabled CSE to take off, becoming one of ten European NRCs in the country. “The strength was already there,” said Jacoby. “And the center brought it all together to insure that people across campus, who were doing sometimes remarkably similar things, knew about one another and worked together.”

A Leader Emerges

Jacoby was chosen to be the director of CSE in part because of his strong research and teaching ties to Europe. “I had spent a lot of time in different areas of Europe, with substantial amounts of time in Great Britain, in the Germanic countries, and in Eastern Europe, not so much in Latin Europe, but I’ve traveled there many times,” said Jacoby.

As a BYU undergraduate, Jacoby interned in “a big Berlin factory,” he explained. “It was a blue collar job.” Then, for two years following college, Jacoby played professional American football in the German Pro League. “I have a lot of ordinary, everyday experience in Europe as well as the academic stuff,” Jacoby said. “Academically, I did my dissertation at MIT on the topic of German reunification, and then I wrote my first book on that topic, and I now teach courses on European security, European political economy, and comparative government.”

His academic specialty in European social studies was another factor as CSE director. “BYU has extraordinary depth in the humanities in the area of Europe. The languages, the number of returned missionaries, the high level of culture classes—it’s very impressive,” Jacoby commented. “On the social science side, there’s a lot of that available, but we have further to go.

“I know the thinking in the grant was to try to make our social sciences catch up with our humanities strengths,” said Jacoby. “So from that perspective it made sense to have someone who is in the social sciences running the center. I receive excellent input from both Jamie Lyon, the associate director, and the Steering Committee.”

Money Talks

The Title VI grant meant one important thing to CSE: money. The grant gave CSE the resources to fund new projects, as well as to give professors the means to extend their research. So far, twenty-two professors—twelve from the 2004–05 year and ten for the upcoming 2005–06 year—in fields varying from humanities to clinical psychology have been assisted in their European research through the Faculty Research Grant. The requirements for receipt of the grant are simple: the professor must be conducting research on Europe—excluding most countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.

Thus the grant money—which is typically for amounts between $1,000 and $3,000—helps professors just as the professors likewise benefit CSE and the scholarly field through advances in European research. Jacoby explained, “The grants are intended to promote more faculty research that results in peer-reviewed publications. Any full-time faculty member who is doing research on a European topic is invited to apply for the center’s competition, which is held each January.”

The ten winners for winter 2005 grants are: Christian Asplund and Doug Bush (music), Gary Burlingame (clinical psychology), Eric Dursteler (history), David Hatch (English), Paul Kerry (history), Nathaniel Kramer (humanities, classics, and comparative literature), David Laraway (Spanish and Portuguese), Robert McFarland (Germanic and Slavic languages), and Mark Wrathall (philosophy).

As for graduate research, CSE was awarded the Foreign Language and Area Studies Graduate Student Fellowships (FLAS), a separate grant for graduate students. Through FLAS, the center “awards full tuition plus a living stipend usually to seven BYU graduate students each year, plus an additional three in the summer,” noted Jacoby. There have been seven FLAS recipients per year—fourteen total so far.

Announced in March, the recipients for summer 2005, who were awarded funds for studies in European universities, are Daniel Law (MA/linguistics), who will study Welsh at Cardiff University in Wales; Kimberly Smith (MPP/public policy), who will continue her studies in Spanish at the Elemadrid in Spain; and Ben Eliason (MA/Spanish and Portuguese), who will further his Portuguese studies at the University of Lisbon. The recipients for the 2005–06 school year have been announced as well. They are Julia Bills (MEd/educational leadership and foundations)—Italian; Stacy Giauque (MBA)—French; Jeff Hardy (MA/history)—Swedish; Karen Hill (JD)—German; Christopher Lewis (MA/Portuguese literature)—French; Shane Peterson (MA/German literature)—Turkish; and Ben Eliason, who will continue his study of Portuguese.

Ideally, the graduate students selected to receive the grant should be studying what Jacoby termed a “less-commonly taught” foreign language at a high level. Preferred European languages include Italian, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, modern Greek, but not the more common languages, such as Spanish, French, or German. The language choice of a graduate student is crucial to determining whether that student will get the grant. Jacoby described, “Other things being equal, a student who is doing fourth-year Italian is a much more likely candidate for funding than someone doing fourth-year Spanish.” The stipends of the grant cover full tuition plus $14,000 a year in living expenses.

Good Governance Consortium

The grant money also opens up greater opportunities for student programs. CSE partnered with seven universities—three American and four European—to form the Good Governance Consortium (GGC), a program allowing American students to study for a semester at a European university and European students at an American university. The original grant was written by Tom Plummer, professor of German literature.

CSE will continue to award at least three students each year $1,500 for language preparation and $3,000 for study in Europe. In its second year at BYU, GGC sent three BYU students to Europe, and BYU received one European student from the University of Vienna. All four students studied in the winter 2005 semester.

Students from various fields wishing to participate in GGC are encouraged to apply. “The GGC is broadly focused on public policy, comparative government, and political economy issues. Within that, students have many options,” said Jacoby. “They can focus on environmental policy, the women’s movement, comparative institutions, international organizations—it’s a very big tent.” Choosing from Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration (Austria), University of Cagliari (Italy), Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), and University of Turku (Finland), students have a great opportunity to gain valuable European experience.

To prepare for the semester abroad, all students must take an online public policy course provided by the University of Kentucky in the fall before heading to their chosen university the following winter. Students select specific courses based on each university’s strengths. “The students have a lot of freedom of choice, but each university specifies what it’s good at, and that helps students pick which university they want to attend,” said Jacoby.

Scotland, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy

Of all the undergraduate opportunities offered by CSE, the parliamentary internships are among the most valuable. To date, twenty-one students have interned with the Scottish Parliament, spending a semester or term working for a member whose portfolio meets the student’s individual interests. Interns write speeches, research for debates, and perform other tasks as they arise.

Recently, a new internship has opened up in Brussels, Belgium, with the European Parliament. The internship has no foreign language requirements, because the interns work with Parliament members from Scotland. In fall 2004, Mark Utley was the first student to attend this internship, working under the direction of Ian Hudghton. Utley’s main assignment was to conduct political research, including writing press releases and attending meetings. He attended sessions of Parliament as well as meetings with members of the European Commission and other members of the European Parliament.

“My internship exceeded all my expectations,” said Utley. “The entire experience was like no other—from the chance to live and work in a foreign country to the opportunity to work in the European political world.”

Thus far, four students, Utley in fall 2004 and three in winter 2005, have worked as interns in this program. Similar in scope and design to the Scottish Parliament internship, the Brussels internship allows students to see the way government procedures work in other countries. Three more interns are headed to Brussels for spring term.

The two groups of interns had the chance of a semester this past February, switching countries for a week. “All of the Belgium interns went to Edinburgh for a week to attend the Scottish National Party spring conference, and the Edinburgh interns went to Brussels for a week to observe the European Parliament,” reported Jacoby. “They’re working for the same political party, represented in both governments, but they see how it works differently in the two countries—plus they get a trip to Scotland or to Brussels.”

In addition to the established parliamentary internships, CSE is working with the international relations (IR) major to develop new internships in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on International Organizations (IOs). Why Geneva? “The UN has twenty-two agencies in Geneva and a variety of other IOs—like the Red Cross—have headquarters in Geneva,” explained Jacoby. Darren Hawkins, IR coordinator, is working with Jacoby to solidify the implementation of this new internship.

“Although we are teaching a couple of hundred students in international relations, we had not been offering them internship opportunities in an international environment,” said Hawkins. “As the headquarters for a significant number of international organizations and the axis of much intergovernmental interaction, Geneva is one of the most important international cities in the world.” Hawkins added that Jonathan Curci, who had worked in Geneva law firms and international organizations and is doing his doctoral work in Geneva, has also worked with him to get the program up and running.

Beyond the various internships, CSE also worked with International Study Programs to implement a new study abroad program in Italy. With last year as its first time running, the Italy study abroad program is looking forward to involvement with the upcoming 2006 Olympics. “This year the program is being extended to include the winter Olympics in Turin,” Jacoby explained. “After the fall 2005 study abroad semester ends, directed by Cinzia Donatelli Noble, a teaching professor of Italian, about thirty students will stay on as volunteers at the Olympics.”

Academic Offerings—IR Major and Study Abroad

With its resources and focus on scholarship, CSE has a lot to offer undergraduate students. Last year, the Kennedy Center approved a new European politics and history track for the IR major. “If you’re interested in social sciences and you’re interested in Europe, it’s a terrific undergraduate program,” Jacoby said. The new track not only offers students the option to specialize in Europe, but CSE also helps to generate new courses for the track.

“Don Harreld in history is teaching comparative European revolutions, Mark Wrathall in philosophy is teaching a class on Europe in crisis, Julie Hartley is teaching the anthropology of Europe, and Scott Sprenger in French and Italian is teaching the history of the idea of Europe,” said Jacoby, to name a few of the many new courses focusing on Europe. Of the track requirements, Jacoby noted, “Some of the courses will turn over, but clearly some of them are headed for a long life.”

Community Outreach

CSE seeks to reach not only the scholarly world but also the local community. Their outreach is accomplished mainly through teacher training workshops, which help elementary and secondary school teachers learn more about European topics and resources they can bring into the classroom. This includes a Deseret News insert published by CSE entitled “Inside the New Europe,” which provides valuable information about Europe to over 120,000 subscribers and to about 30,000 teachers.

CSE’s outreach efforts combine with the Kennedy Center’s International Outreach, utilizing their established contacts with the local public schools. Art and essay contests for K–12 allow students to be involved with European topics. “Cory Leonard is the outreach director for CSE, as well as being assistant director of the Kennedy Center, and he runs a very vigorous, robust outreach program that focuses on the public schools,” explained Jacoby. “There is also some work with the business community and the media, but the main focus is on public schools.”

Looking Ahead

Running now at full force, the center doesn’t plan to let up anytime soon. “BYU has enormous depth in European studies. Of the 12,500 graduates last year, about 5,200 had taken five or more courses on European topics. If we include first- or second-year language courses, the number is even higher,” said Jacoby. “CSE faculty research grants, course development grants, and visiting speakers add many new dimensions to this rich legacy.”

As it has in the past two years, CSE continues to push the limits of European scholarship, utilizing strengths at BYU to enrich the exposure of students, faculty, and community members to the study of Europe. They will be applying for a new four-year grant to run from fall 2006 to fall 2010, and if received, European studies will continue to grow in strength and visibility.