Monday, February 20, 2012

Regional Faculty Working Conference Featured in Muskegon Community College Newsletter

On January 13 & 14, the EUC sponsored its annual Regional Faculty Working Conference to increase research on and teaching of the European Union at institutions in the Midwest. The conference was featured in Muskegon Community College's e-Newsletter, Global Awareness. You can read the entire newsletter, or check out the expanded article below!

by Tom Schurino

If you are looking for a way to infuse international content into your classes then you may want to consider attending the next European Union Regional Faculty Working Conference sponsored annually by the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana with support from the Center’s US Department of Education Title VI and European Commission grants. Bringing together regional college faculty, this conference includes panel discussions on effective teaching of EU-related subjects. This year’s event was held on January 13 and 14 in Chicago, in partnership with DePaul University’s School of Public Service.

With the aim of increasing research and teaching of the European Union at universities and four-year and two-year colleges in the Midwest, the conference had a very positive impact on the three dozen participants who came from Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Here is what a few of them had to say:

Seth Koehler, Muskegon Community College: “The most interesting topic at the conference dealt with the Euro debt crisis, and how it can affect the rest of the world. The presentation by Elisabeth Oltheten, Assistant Professor of Finance, University of Illinois was the best speech of the entire conference, and explained everything in layman's terms, which is good for us educators because we can transfer the message immediately to students. In my classes, the knowledge gained from the Euro debt crisis lecture will be extremely important. Members of the community rarely have a good idea of how the rest of the world’s economy can affect us here in America. By learning more about Europe, and the challenge it faces while trying to unify its currency, we can better understand why and how our economy functions as a piece of the global financial puzzle.  “I think faculty should attend this conference because it covers a variety of topics: immigration, music, economics, foreign policy, business, to name just a few. While attending these conferences, faculty can network with other educators from multiple colleges and universities in the Midwest. The European Union is an important entity today, and the better we understand it, the more we can use it to accomplish our educational goals. Whether those goals be cultural, economic, or political, the European Union Conference is hugely beneficial to those who attend, and in turn, those benefits can be passed on to students.“

Here is what Patty Croonquist and Sheryl  Griffith from Iowa Central Community College had to say:  “The whole conference was interesting, but my favorite presentations were the “European Union Agricultural Policy—A Closer Look at CAP and its International Effects” by David Bullock, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, and “Breaking Up the Family- —Migrants, Homophobia, and the Political Left in Europe.” by Patrick Ireland, Professor of Political Science, Illinois Institute of Technology.   I think the one on agriculture interested me because it is so close to home in the Midwest.  The whole conference made me aware of how the EU affects us every day.”

“Why should other faculty go to this conference? This was a very informative conference. And it applied to all disciplines from music to mathematics. I found all of the sessions interesting and presenters well prepared. And European Union Center Office Manager Kim Rice did a great job of organizing everything.

“I found all of the topics to be very interesting. I especially enjoyed the presentations on agriculture and economics and will use them in my classes. I think that faculty from all areas will find this conference helpful and interesting with material they could add to their courses, as we are a global community. Thank you again for a great conference.”

There you have it, another successful European Union Conference. To access more information about this year’s event, including resources such as speakers’ PowerPoint presentation files and sample course syllabi, visit the conference web page at

If you would like to be notified about next year’s conference, plus periodically learn of other resources and opportunities for educators, contact the European Union Center (EUC) at and ask to be added to their regional faculty listserv. Since its inception in 1998, the European Union Center (EUC) has become the focal point on the University of Illinois campus and throughout the Midwest for teaching, research, and outreach programs on the European Union. The Center’s EUC will continue to bring together faculty and students from diverse disciplines across campus to promote the study of the EU and transatlantic relations, making it one of the most comprehensive EU centers in the US.

Tom Schurino is the past director of the Center for International Trade and Development for Riverside California Community College and the former Executive Director for The Corning New York Chamber of Commerce. He holds a M.A. degree in International Business Education from California State University Long Beach (CSULB) and a BBA degree in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. He recently completed a Fulbright Research Trip to Africa with the Midwest Institute for International-Intercultural Education. The project provided a rich mixture of cognitive and affective learning with overseas colleagues, other professionals and citizens in Botswana-S. Africa-Swaziland. The primary purpose of the project was to internationalize their teaching through curriculum development. Tom Currently teaches international business at Muskegon Community College.


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