European Studies new to Dal

Program attracts students with taste for travel

- March 1, 2007

Christina Macdonald
Christina Macdonald is testdriving the new European Studies program. (Pearce photo)

Christina Macdonald was scanning the undergraduate calendar looking for a degree program when her eye caught the heading ÒEuropean Studies.”

ÒHey, thatÕs an idea,” said the third-year arts student. ÒI was desperately searching for something and seeing that, I thought, ÔthatÕs cool.Õ ÔThatÕs me.Õ”

European Studies is so new that Macdonald and a few other Dalhousie students are the first to enroll. Introduced in September, the program has been in the works for the past five years. The creation of the program coincides with the opening of the European Union Centre of Excellence, a research centre at Dalhousie recognized and supported financially by the European Union. The centre is headed by Finn Laursen, who recently joined Dalhousie as Canada Research Chair in -European Union Studies.

ÒWe found students had a great deal of interest in Europe and that there were already a lot of classes offered by many different de-partments,” said Professor Robert Boardman, the coordinator of the program.


European Studies is multidisciplinary, offering classes through 17 departments at Dalhousie and KingÕs College. The program has been designed to encourage students to develop a broad perspective on Europe as seen through history and politics; literature and ideas; and the fine arts. ThereÕs also a requirement to learn a language, such as French, German, Spanish or Italian.

Unique to the program is its emphasis on studying abroad; honours students in their third year are expected to study for a term at a university on the other side of the Atlantic.

ÒGetting that first-hand experience is very important,” said Prof. Boardman, who has been teaching European Politics at Dalhousie since arriving here from England in the early 1970s. ÒItÕs not only the study, itÕs the living there, that will really bring Europe alive for students.”

Ms. Macdonald, from Fall River, N.S., fell in love with Europe, its history and heritage during a family vacation to her dadÕs native Scotland a few years ago.

ÒCanada has the HudsonÕs Bay Company and thatÕs pretty old, but itÕs nothing compared to Europe. The chance to learn more about its history and culture is amazing.”

Overseas study

This term, sheÕs taking classes in Political Science (European Politics), English (Shakespeare), History (Modern Britain), Music (Listening to Music) and Contemporary Studies at KingÕs (WagnerÕs Ring Cycle). She loves the flexibility of the program and its small size makes it easy for her to get advice on her choices.

And, even though it may push her over four years to finish her degree, sheÕs looking forward to studying for a term overseas. SheÕs tempted by universities in England and Germany, and would love to eventually work in Europe as well.

ÒMaybe Ireland,” she says enthusiastically. ÒIÕd like to go there.”  Ñ DN


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