This year, to mark Europe Day, the European Parliament organised the European Youth Event (EYE) in Strasbourg. The idea was to bring young Europeans, between the ages of 16 and 30, together to discuss ‘youth focused’ issues such as the digital revolution, youth employment, sustainability and the future of Europe.
(The CCCU Politics and IR team outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg)
CCCU Politics and International Relations students were invited to participate with funding provided by the European Parliament Outreach Office in the UK, due to the Politics and International Relations programme’s close partnership with them. Lecturers in EU studies, Dr. Sarah Lieberman and Dr. John FitzGibbon, came up with the topic of “Ideas from Young People on how to Educate Young People About the EU” and of integrating participation in the EYE into the curriculum of the first year module Europe: from continent to community.
Over the course of the Spring semester, the students prepared for the EYE by discussing European culture in seminars, writing to MEPs, researching and presenting their ideas on how to teach EU politics to the ‘youth of today’ and conducting surveys into the level of knowledge young people have on the European Union. On Europe Day itself, the 9th of May, the EU Continent to Community class of 2013 presented their work at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg. To begin, two students presented the cumulative findings of the research on what young people know about the EU. Afterwards four groups of students presented their ideas – EU language learning packs, interactive online quizzes, animations for pre-school children, and a smart-phone application. The presentations were well prepared, full of good ideas, fluently presented, there were slick transitions between groups, all the questions were answered with confidence and intelligence and the students provided each other with true support.
(Standing room only for First year CCCU Politics Students Iona David and Lora Nazarenko presenting their ‘EU languages learning pack’ idea at the EYE)
As a learning experience the project was incredibly successful. Students became extremely focused and put in many of hours of preparation for their presentations as they knew it was not just for their coursework but was an important opportunity to advance their future careers. Effectively communicating their ideas to EYE participants from across Europe in the European Parliament building itself, proved to the students the depth of their own skills and the possibilities of their potential. After the presentation many attendees at the CCCU workshop, including representatives from the European Commission outreach office, came forward with proposals to collaborate on the student’s ideas and take them further. In the future of Europe there is little doubt that CCCU students will be there at the forefront following this overwhelmingly positive experience!
The Politics and IR programme is dedicated to innovation in teaching and working with external partners to enhance its students’ learning experience. This work has been generously supported by the department of Psychology, Politics and Sociology and is reflective of the ethos of CCCU as a whole.
(Politics student Roger Habimana interviewed for the Euronews TV channel at the EYE)