Foreign Insights

Students discuss foreign policy with Greek Consul General Madam Ioanna Efthymiadou. (Photo by Duane Zehr)

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May 8, 2014

By Matt Hawkins

Research by Bradley students helped facilitate a forum on the impact of a proposed free-trade agreement between the U.S. and European Union. The discussion brought EU diplomats together with students and local residents to learn about the potentially groundbreaking Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Students in an international studies class researched TTIP’s potential impact on local businesses, labor and the environment. They produced and packaged research on TTIP’s potential impact in the Midwest. In addition, students hosted the seven diplomats on campus.

“This is what the Bradley experience is all about,” said Dr. Jeanie Bukowski, associate professor of international studies. “My students and I jumped at the chance to collaborate with the World Affairs Council and various other groups to bring these European dignitaries to campus to discuss this important trade agreement. The students not only gained crucial knowledge about TTIP and EU-U.S. relations, but also honed professional skills that will serve them well in their future careers.”

The day’s program featured a panel discussion and a business seminar. The format gave students ample opportunities to engage diplomats on a range of foreign policy matters.

“This gives us more respect for how global events affect our lives,” said international studies and criminal justice studies major Livi Lu ‘17. “As college students, we look up to people who have achieved success in this area, so we were delighted they were as interested in us as much as we were interested in them.”

Students took advantage of the opportunity to engage the guests in order to bring coursework knowledge to life.

“As important as it was to receive classroom experience, it was more important to be able to speak to the diplomats,” said international studies major Josh Hatler ’16 . “It was great to have conversations about their perspectives and see that reflected in what we learned in class.”

The regional EU representatives strategically chose academic forums to discuss TTIP because of the combination of intellectual and youthful perspectives.

“You can have debates, which are very productive, and can be surprised with the questions,” said Greek Consul General Madam Ioanna Efthymiadou.

The program was a collaborative effort of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council, Small Business Development Center,  International Trade Center, Institute of International Studies, the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce. It was funded by a grant from the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, as part of their EU in the US Discussion Series.