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Studying Abroad, a "Hands On" Approach to Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  Field work as educational tools Field trips can be very helpful and insightful for students to understand the differences in the political systems in Europe (in our personal experience France) and in the US. These allow students to travel and get a first hand view of many phenomena (European Parliament, the Commission…) that they would not otherwise get the opportunity to see. Of course, for those of us whose focus is Europe this is particularly interesting, but as we can see below, these opportunities are numerous for various courses in political science from comparative governments to international political economy. European Institutions In studying the European Union, academic field trips are particularly useful to define and clarify the Institutional Triangle in the eyes of the students. Visits to the European Parliament in which they can see live debates between members of parliament (or more recently debates between AGORA (civil society) and members of Parliament) allows them incite into the institutional workings of the various actors (through presentations and films) but also permits students to see with their own eyes the “hot topics” in European politics which can then be re-discussed in class and used as educational tools in the classroom (for projects for example). Furthermore, an up-close and personal look at how the EU parliament works opens students’ eyes to 1) the differences in American federalism and the new and evolving EU system 2) the diversity in Europe’s 27 member countries. Most are astounded when they see the 23 different translation booths representing the official languages of the EU. One of the particularly useful field trips for our students studying EU politics has been a trip to the US Commercial Mission to the EU. The complexity of EU-US relations is a topic not oft enough touched upon and usually to discuss the difficulties inherent in the relationship. However, for our international political economy class, being able to see the 6

Authors: Sheppard, Elizabeth.
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background image
Field work as educational tools
Field trips can be very helpful and insightful for students to understand the differences
in the political systems in Europe (in our personal experience France) and in the US. These
allow students to travel and get a first hand view of many phenomena (European Parliament,
the Commission…) that they would not otherwise get the opportunity to see. Of course, for
those of us whose focus is Europe this is particularly interesting, but as we can see below,
these opportunities are numerous for various courses in political science from comparative
governments to international political economy.
European Institutions
In studying the European Union, academic field trips are particularly useful to define
and clarify the Institutional Triangle in the eyes of the students. Visits to the European
Parliament in which they can see live debates between members of parliament (or more
recently debates between AGORA (civil society) and members of Parliament) allows them
incite into the institutional workings of the various actors (through presentations and films)
but also permits students to see with their own eyes the “hot topics” in European politics
which can then be re-discussed in class and used as educational tools in the classroom (for
projects for example). Furthermore, an up-close and personal look at how the EU parliament
works opens students’ eyes to 1) the differences in American federalism and the new and
evolving EU system 2) the diversity in Europe’s 27 member countries. Most are astounded
when they see the 23 different translation booths representing the official languages of the
EU.
One of the particularly useful field trips for our students studying EU politics has been
a trip to the US Commercial Mission to the EU. The complexity of EU-US relations is a topic
not oft enough touched upon and usually to discuss the difficulties inherent in the
relationship. However, for our international political economy class, being able to see the
6


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