Outside the classroom: European Union Centre of Excellence

A day in the life

Outside the classroom: European Union Centre of Excellence

The EU is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, and Canada is the second-largest investor in Europe. So it’s very important for Canadians, especially in government and the business world, to understand the EU and how its market works.

Promoting understanding

The European Union Centre of Excellence (EUCE) at Dalhousie was established in 2006. The EUCE is funded jointly by the European Union and Dalhousie University. As an independent centre in the Department of Political Science, it provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to learn more about the European Union and Canada’s relationship with it.

“The centre supports research related to pressing policy issues that affect both Europe and Canada,” says Ruben Zaiotti, EUCE director and assistant professor in the Political Science Department. “We also do outreach to local policy makers, the business community and high school students.”

The EUCE has three main objectives:

  • To promote research on the European Union (EU) through faculty and students.
  • To foster knowledge of the EU through speakers providing EU and Canadian perspectives and EU-related courses.
  • To increase an awareness and understanding of the EU in the business community, with policy makers, secondary schools and the general public.

“The centre supports associates from various faculties at Dalhousie to engage in research on a range of topics pertaining to EU-Canada relations, comparative EU-Canada public policies and EU policies more generally,” states Dr. Zaiotti.

Canada-EU relations

The European Union is home to over 500 million people living in 27 member states, many sharing a single currency (the Euro), and is one of the world’s largest trading blocs. But Dr. Zaiotti says Canadians are generally not familiar with the EU and its policies and practices.

“Canada has provinces and the EU has member states, so there are some similarities between the systems,” he says. “That’s what we try to make the students understand. We are currently engaged in determining a trade deal with the EU – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) – so it’s very important for Canadians, especially in government and the business world, to understand the EU and how its market works.”

Courses at Dal

The Political Science program at Dal regularly offers the following course on the EU:

  • Politics of the European Union (POLI 3321)

Since the EU is important to other areas of Canadian society—such as finance, business, and law—the EUCE also funds courses in the Economics, European Studies, and Law programs:

  • Euros and Cents: From Common Market to European Union (ECON 2219)
  • Europe: Ideas, Culture and Society to 1900 (EURO 2100)
  • Europe: Ideas, Culture and Society from 1900 to Present Day (EURO 2102)
  • European Studies Seminar: The Idea of Europe (EURO 4512)
  • European Union Law (LAWS 2215)

Studying abroad

The centre provides funding and links to other organizations to support student exchanges to countries within the EU. Dr. Zaiotti notes that there is a “historical legacy of Europe here in Nova Scotia and there are still a lot of connections between the two sides.”

Bridging the Atlantic is the main role of the centre, through research, teaching, student exchanges and public outreach.

A Dal student experience: Belgrade European Model
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"The political debates were fascinating and educational, and complemented the social and cultural differences that were also present."
Read more about Veronique's experience