Hannes Richter

Transatlantic Student ‘Think-Tanks’

Hannes Richter

In 1998 the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium launched an ambitious initiative to establish a network of study centers at universities throughout the United States. The objective behind these EU study centers was primarily to increase awareness of the political, economic and cultural importance of the transatlantic relationship and to offer young Americans the chance to learn more about the ongoing process of European integration. Of the sixty-nine leading U.S. universities that participated in the original request for proposals, ten were selected. Because of the success of the initiative, the network of universities has expanded to a total of fifteen.

Five of these universities reside in the nation's capital of Washington, D.C. and have created a partnership forming the American Consortium on European Union Studies - socalled ACES for short. The five universities are: American, George Mason, George Washington, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins. ACES is centrally housed at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University.

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Education and Research
One core aspect of ACES activities lies in Education and Research. All of the five universities are developing special graduate programs in EU Studies, conducting seminars, offering fellowships, and supporting academic conferences, symposia and workshops on important issues concerning the EU and the U.S. The Centers have offered nearly 4,000 courses to tens of thousands of students in a variety of fields. Momentarily they are training more than 600 Ph.D. students who will devote their professional lives to instructing students and informing public policy debate. As the top EU envoy to the U.S., Ambassador Guenter Burghardt, said: "Today's college students [at these centers] are the lawyers, legislators, commentators and policymakers of the future. It is they who will shape the American view of the European Union for decades to come."

Media Outreach
These Centers also are involved with Media Outreach and Education by offering an informative series on transatlantic concerns through the individual universities' radio programs. These special transatlantic editions are part of the nationally syndicated American forum presented on National Public Radio. One example is the EU Perspectives series for Pew Journalists: This includes seminars and lectures for journalists who come to Johns Hopkins from newspapers and media outlets across the entire U.S., who then travel abroad as part of their reporting assignment. ACES helps arrange meetings with EU officials and other experts for those Fellows who travel to Europe as well as to other regions of the world.

To discover more about these initiatives, please refer to: www.american.edu/aces or go to: www.eustudies.org For information on the universities participating in the network of EU Centers in the U.S., see: www.eurunion.org/infores/eucenter.htm