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Universtiy News

Understanding Europe Without Leaving Campus


March 4, 2004

European studies...isn’t that a fancy name for Western civ classes?

“While history and geography are certainly strong components of this new program, the aim is much broader,” says Cora A. Granata, assistant professor of history, explaining the components of the revamped and renamed major launched on campus this spring. European Studies is the new name for the former Russian and East European Studies Program. Granata is a member of an interdisciplinary group spearheading the bachelor’s degree – one of only two offered in the CSU system.

It is, most emphatically, she says, “not just about a group of dead white men.

“European studies provides an interdisciplinary exploration of Europe as a dynamic, multicultural world region. That means we will not only be studying history and geography, but language, art, music, business, philosophy and political science,” Granata adds. “What sets our program apart is that the Europe we study is different from traditional images. We emphasize Europe’s ethnic, class and gender diversity.”

For many years, students with a particular interest in Europe could enter the Russian and East European Area Studies Program, a program very popular during the Cold War, says Granata.

But as the Cold War ended, interest began to wane. When faculty members, who were experts in the field, began to retire, the program simply wound down. Yet, interest in Europe as a whole remained strong.

“European studies is picking up where Russian and East European area studies left off,” she says. “While our students will study Russia and East Europe, our focus will be broadened to include all of Europe. We want to provide an opportunity for students to learn more about this area of the world.”

Proficiency in a European language, such as French, German, Spanish or Portuguese, is necessary to fulfill the language requirement. Language classes may be taken on campus or at another college.

“I think European studies is part of a larger, national trend,” Granata says. “After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many started to re-think their focus of Europe. With current divisions between the U.S. and Europe regarding foreign policy, offering American students the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the region is more important than ever.”

European Studies is sponsoring a 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, panel discussion on “The Impact of European Union Enlargement on Central and Eastern Europe” in Room 107 of the Performing Arts Center. Scheduled speakers include Kestutis Krisciunas, director of European integration, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania; Karl Kaltenthaler, P.K. Seidman Professor of Political Economy, Rhodes College; and Pavel Telicka, representative of the Czech Republic to the European Union in Brussels.

All three scholars will spend the week meeting with students, faculty and staff members.

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