European Union to place study center with UM-FIU partnership
By Angie M. Henderson
Miami News Service
The University of Miami and Florida International University will host a European Union Center, part of a selective network of US colleges that promote the study of European and US relations.
A formal announcement of the meeting is scheduled Sept. 18 at FIU, said Vendulka Kubalkova, interim chair of UM's Department of International Studies and an associate director of the center.
The 11:30 a.m. ceremony will be attended by dignitaries from the European Union and representatives from UM and FIU, he said.
"It puts us in a different league," said Ms. Kubalkova of the designation. "We are in the top 10. The potential of it is so overpowering."
The UM-FIU partnership joins 10 such existing centers begun in 1998 by the European Union. The Union, which announced last year that it was expanding its centers at universities, received about 80 applications in April from universities, a spokesperson said.
UM-FIU competed against institutions such as the University of Florida and Rutgers as well as Harvard and the University of Southern California, which were renewing their proposals.
"It was an extremely competitive process," said Joseph Jupille, associate director and a European Union specialist at FIU.
Fifteen universities will operate as European Union centers during three years, said Wilfried Schneider, a spokesman for the European Union in Washington, DC.
The centers, he said, "help to shape Americans' views of the European Union. We are looking to raise the academic interest for Europe as well as shape the trans-Atlantic dialogue by providing forums for scholars and practitioners with regard to the complex issues facing the US and Europe," Mr. Schneider said.
Miami's status as a gateway to Latin America gave it an edge in the application process, according to Ms. Kubalkova and Mr. Jupille.
"This is a study of the European connection, but we are not underestimating the Latin-American strengths of this place," Ms. Kubalkova said.
UM and FIU officials said the two schools would expand course offerings and programs that focus on European affairs.
Currently 77 such courses are offered by both institutions, according to the proposal. Additionally, FIU sponsors a foreign affairs breakfast series featuring speakers with international and national prominence as an outreach to the professional and civic business community. Faculty and students at UM and FIU jointly publish scholarly articles and texts as part of the Miami International Relations Theory Group.
Much of the strength of the new center will come from the alliance between FIU and UM, Mr. Jupille said.
"I think it is a great opportunity to bring together respective strengths," he said.
Workshops for teachers of secondary schools along with curriculum and lesson plans that emphasize the European Union are in the proposal, he said. "We are also looking to forge partnerships in the business and nonprofit sector."
Also being planned are:
nTwo public lectures in 2001-02 and four each year thereafter;
nAn advisory board composed of members from the community;
nA major academic conference in the second and third years;
nA smaller conference or workshop on EU law in coordination with the law schools at UM and FIU.
The local center, with an operating budget of $296,961 will be housed at FIU and UM, according to the proposal. The European Union will contribute $129,463.
Staff includes two directors, two associate directors, a program coordinator, a fiscal manager and web master. The bulk of the money, according to the proposal, will be directed toward curriculum development, research and outreach.