Report on the Research Trip to the University of Kent at Canterbury and the Free University of Brussels
October 14 till November 3, 2005
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During the period from October 14 till November 3, 2005 all the trainees led by the project coordinator Larisa Deriglazova made a planned three week research trip to the Universities that are Western members of the Consortium of project partners. The first part of the trip took place on 14-25 October at the University of Kent at Canterbury. It was organized by the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University, head Prof. Richard Sakwa, and managed by Dr Amelia Hadfield. Then the trainees made a ten day visit to the Free University of Brussels (ULB) prepared by Prof Eric Remacle and his assistant Ph. D. Researcher Frederic Ponjaert.
The stay at the University of Kent was primarily aimed at making the trainees familiar with local experience of teaching European Studies and International Relations. When staying at the University the trainees had the opportunity to attend lectures and seminars held by the staff of the Department on such topics as "Democracy, Politics and the State in Europe" (Prof Richard Sakwa), "Foreign Policy Analysis" (Dr Amelia Hadfield), "Ethics and International Relations" (Dr Andrea den Boer), "Politics in Western European States" (Dr Paolo Dardanelli), "New World Orders and International Relations" (Prof Andrew J Williams) and others. It enabled them to learn new conceptual, pedagogical and technical methods. Moreover, each trainee was able to ask local staff for an advice on different aspects of EU studies. The trainees could also work with a wide range of paper and electronic resources of the Templeman Library to collect theoretical and empirical material on European Studies. At the end of the stay a special seminar was conducted by Prof Richard Sakwa to discuss its results and influence on the trainees` curriculum.
The main goal of the stay in Brussels was to learn closer how the EU institutions work. The trainees visited the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the EU. They had meetings, inter alia, with Andreas Hedrina, head of the unit "European Neighbourhood Policy Sector Coordination", Gerhard Lohan, head of the unit "Russia", from the DG "External Relations" of the European Commission, and Carl Hallergard, administrator in the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU. The discussions concerned general questions of the EU functioning as well as relations between the EU and Russia. The trainees also visited the NATO headquarters where they had a chance to discuss different aspects of NATO transformation and NATO-Russia relations with NATO officials. Besides, two round-tables were organized for the trainees. The first one which was held at the ULB was devoted to the problems of "Identity, Ethnicity and Conflict Management in the former Soviet Union". It included the presentations by Aude Merlin, professor at the ULB, and Nina Bachkatov, former Moscow correspondent for "le Soir" and professor at the ULB. The second one was held at the headquarters of the European Policy Centre, a famous think-tank on European Union policy, and dealt with the principles and main directions of its work. Finally, the trainees were able to attend lectures by the staff of the ULB on different aspects of EU external relations. A special lecture on "EU CFSP" was given to the trainees by Prof Eric Remacle.
Social activities were an important element during the trip. The trainees had very interesting excursions to the British Parliament and to Dover Castle. Many of them could see other sights of the United Kingdom. When in Belgium, trips to Bruges and in Brussels were made.
On the whole, the research trip was appreciated by the trainees as very intensive and fruitful. It will undoubtedly contribute to achieve the broad goals of the project.