On the road!

I’ve spent a lot of my time during the last couple of months giving talks about the European Union here at the University of Washington, as well as other Universities in Washington and neighbouring States.  My European Commission colleague, Michel, asked to see more photos on this blog.  So here are some images and impressions from recent visits to Washington State University, the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark College.

Exploring the North West

Travelling around this part of the country has given me a great introduction to the history of the Western USA.  My most recent visit was to Lewis-Clark College in Lewiston, Idaho.  The College is named after Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who in 1803-1806 led the first American expedition to cross the North West and reach the Pacific Coast.

Statue of Sacajawea

Statue of Sacajawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman, who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, acting as an interpreter and guide, in their exploration of the Western United States.

The University of Idaho and Washington State University are both “land-grant” universities.  These are educational institutions that were established in many States during the second half of the 19th century through grants of federally controlled land (generally in rural areas).

University of Idaho

A glimpse of rural America at the University of Idaho.

I also had an opportunity to visit the Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, which is named after Edward Murrow, one of the great figures of 20th century US radio and television journalism.  The 2005 film “Good Night, and Good Luck” directed by George Clooney tells the story of Murrow’s critical reporting on Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Europe is closer than you think

Foley Institute

Speaking at the Foley Institute, Washington State University

8000 km separate Seattle from Brussels.  But historic ties and today’s strong economic and trade relations mean that Europe and the West Coast of the USA are closer than many people think.  I have been trying to get this point across in a tangible way by referring to the many local examples of EU-US trade and investment.

lewis-clark

Speaking to faculty, staff and members of the local business community in Lewiston, Idaho.

This has sparked quite a lot of interest, particularly given the recent announcement by US and EU leaders of forthcoming negotiations on a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement.  I even got a mention in the Lewiston Tribune local newspaper following my presentation at Lewis-Clark College!

Lewiston Morning Tribune

Talking digital media

It has been interesting to discuss the impact that digital media are having on politics and journalism with students and faculty from the communication departments of the Universities I have visited.  Kenton Bird, Director of the University of Idaho’s School of Journalism and Mass Media, said that they tell their freshman students that 50% of them will probably end up doing jobs that don’t even exist today after graduating.

UI JAMM

Students from the University of Idaho’s Journalism and Mass Media School

Digital media are also changing education, and there is a lively debate in all of the Universities I have visited about so-called “MOOCs” (Massive Open Online Courses).  In one of the classes I spoke to, more than half of the students had followed some kind of online class.  They appreciated the flexibility of this form of distance learning, but also felt that online tools could never replace the benefits of a campus-based education (direct contact with professors, peer learning and interaction …).

Leaving my comfort zone

One of the most challenging aspects of the European Union Fellowship is the fact that audiences here expect me to be familiar with virtually all areas of EU policy.  The presentations I have been asked to make and the questions I have received range far beyond my daily work in Brussels on regional and urban policy.  Recurrent issues so far have included the financial crisis, EU-US trade relations, foreign and security policy, enlargement, Italy’s elections and the UK’s relationship with Europe.

But perhaps the biggest challenge I have faced so far was the invitation from Bill Smith and Romuald Afatchao at the University of Idaho to join them for an impromptu game of football (or soccer, as it’s known over here!).  This has to be the most original engagement I have had so far as an EU Fellow, and I promised them that I would include a photo here to record the experience.

Football in Idaho

On the football pitch at the University of Idaho

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3 Comments

Filed under EU, Fellowship Programme, USA

3 responses to “On the road!

  1. Marie-Pierre

    Bonjour Tony,

    Tu as l’air de bien t’amuser et eprendre du plaisir à enseigner aux Etats-Unis! C’est certainement une expérience très enrichissante. Et oui, le temps passe vite et tu es presque à la moitié de ton séjour…Je serais en tous cas très contente que tu réintègres l’unité. Et d’ici là, profite bien!

    Bien à toi

    Marie-Pierre

  2. Jiji Payne

    Great Tony! LA Galaxy want to sign you! Very interesting, potentially looking at college courses for children as if we have to pay in the UK I told them they could go anywhere in the world!!! And US way ahead on digital media, I imagine. Will pass this link on! Cheerio!

  3. paula

    Hi Tony, thanks for all the info and pics. Very happy that Americans are benefiting from your knowledge and learning a lot more about European Union. I hope they are also teaching you modern technics to improve our communication work in a soon to be 28 Member States’ Union!
    looking very much forward to your return,
    Paula.

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