University of Pittsburgh
December 2, 2003

European Commission Funds Pitt Outreach Programs

Pitt's Center for West European Studies and European Union Center collaborate with World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh to promote European education
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Pitt's Center for West European Studies (CWES) and European Union Center (EUC) have teamed up with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh in an expanded educational outreach initiative focusing on European affairs and U.S.-European relations. In addition to its annual support of Pitt's EUC, the European Commission has pledged $37, 417 to fund outreach programs designed to educate area teachers and students about the European Union (EU), a changing Europe, and transatlantic relations.

"One of the reasons EUC was originally funded was to better inform the University community and the region about the increasing importance and impact of the EU in world affairs," said Thomas Allen, a CWES program administrator and graduate adviser. "The new grant furthers the fulfillment of that charge and simultaneously allows us to build on an already strong relationship with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. "We are especially delighted to be able to increase our collaborations with the council at the K-12 level."

On Dec. 16, a workshop titled "Europe in Transition" will be presented to secondary school teachers. Featured speaker will be Radek Sikorski, executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative, resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute for Foreign Policy Research, and Poland's former deputy minister for foreign affairs and defense. The workshop will provide teachers with timely information on European integration and enlargement, resources for teaching about the EU and Europe, and assistance in developing a framework for understanding a changing Europe and the future of transatlantic relations.

Several more activities are planned for the spring, including a roundtable dinner program for teachers and a fundraising event to support a visit to Brussels that will allow area teachers and civic leaders to learn first hand about the European Commission. In addition, graduate students affiliated with CWES will give presentations on EU and Europe to area high school students.

To date, CWES and the World Affairs Council have presented two outreach programs. On Oct. 15, a session of the World Affairs Council's Great Decisions discussion series—facilitated by Claire Piana and Schuyler Foerster—was devoted to issues relating to the integration of Europe. Piana is a Ph.D. candidate in Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs who is affiliated with CWES and is studying the EU's foreign and security policies. Foerster is the president of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. Community members, including teachers and students, participated in the discussion.

The World Affairs Council also organized an Oct. 23 regional seminar for high school students titled "Europe and the United States: What Is the Future of the Transatlantic Alliance?" Nearly 300 students from 12 area schools attended the seminar, which was held at North Allegheny High School. The panel, moderated by Foerster, included Ray Raymond, political officer at the British Consulate General in New York City; Jean-Pierre Collet, honorary consul of France to Pittsburgh; and Kerstin Moebus, a former reporter with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's most respected newspapers.

"This outreach is our bread-and-butter," said Foerster. "More than two-thirds of the World Affairs Council's programming is dedicated to secondary schools, reaching more than 12,000 students and teachers each year. We are delighted to partner with CWES and EUC in securing this generous grant from the European Commission to strengthen this important outreach."

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization designed to promote greater understanding of important international issues throughout the community and particularly within the region's secondary schools. Founded in 1931, the council encourages informed discussions of world affairs that demonstrate the growing connections between Western Pennsylvania and the rest of the world.

The CWES was established in 1984 under the auspices of Pitt's University Center for International Studies to promote the interdisciplinary study of Western Europe. Through its outreach efforts, CWES has helped build relationships among the University of Pittsburgh, the business community, policymakers, and community organizations. In July 2003, the U.S. Department of Education redesignated CWES a National Resource Center, a key indicator of excellence for area studies programs.

The EUC within CWES was established by a grant from the European Commission in July 1998. One of only 15 EUCs in the country, Pitt's EUC promotes awareness of the EU, including its institutions and policies, to further U.S.-EU relations and to establish a EU presence in America.