BRUSSELS: The EU under Threat? Framing Recent Developments in International Affairs from a European Perspective
16-18 March 2016
Our annual study trip to Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the centre of Europe, was the home to the key institutions of the European Union. Participants learned about the actors and institutions of the European Union and their dealing with current challenges in international affairs while getting a first-hand experience on the EU’s policy-making mechanisms to address contested issue such as the refugee crisis, the civil wars taking places in the Middle East as well as its economic development through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
BERLIN: Understanding Germany’s Role in Europe and the World
December 2nd-4th 2015
India: The Country’s Role Ahead in the 21st Century
October 4th – 16th, 2015
India plays an increasingly pivotal role, not only in the South Asian region, but also globally as the world’s fastest-growing economy. It is also the largest democracy in the world. We have gained insights into India’s role in the 21st century. Here we looked at the various facets that comprise its diverse character. We were focusing on a variety of aspects of political, social, economic, and cultural life in India. The program was made up of three distinctive components. New Delhi served as the political backdrop of our agenda, providing insights into international institutions, embassies, and NGOs all in the context of contemporary Indian politics. The second half of our trip took place in Mumbai, the heart of India’s financial and economic sectors. We had a chance to hear first-hand about experiences in these areas from key actors influencing India’s political landscape. The intersection between business and politics was also explored with representatives from Mumbai-based enterprises. In both cities, the focus of the program remains academic, as we have participated in talks and lectures tailored to the theme of the trip. To provide a break from India’s fast-paced city life, we have spent a weekend in Agra, where the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Taj Mahal is located.
Georgia: Challenges to a Young Democracy at the Edge of Europe
Juli 20th – 25th, 2015
Our Study Trip to Georgia brought together 24 motivated and interested students from Europe and Central Asia. The participants had the chance to meet with various actors from politics, civil society as well as academia in order to discuss topics such as the separatist conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the situation of ethnic minorities in the country, Georgia’s foreign relations and their aspirations to join NATO and the EU, etc. They met – among others – with a lecturer from the Tbilisi State University, the development adviser of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), a representative of the European External Service, the US Embassy as well as the German, Dutch and British Embassies in Tbilisi, several high party representatives of the United National Movement, activists from the LGBT community and Transparency International, etc. Two day trips lead the group out of the capital Tbilisi, where all meetings had taken place. One day they visited Kazbegi, a small town in the Caucasus Mountains and hiked up to Gergeti Trinity Church, one of the main symbols of Georgia. The other trip lead them to the war-torn town of Gori and its famous Stalin Museum as well as to the old cave complex in Uplistsikhe and the Jvari monastery in Mtskheta. The delicious Georgian cuisine, sunny weather and high temperatures as well as the great hospitality of the Georgian people contributed to the overall success of our first study trip to a post-soviet country.
Brussels: Actors, Institutions and Policy-Making in the European Union
April 26th – 30th, 2015
28 students took their chances and discovered the political centre of Europe. They learned about the actors and institutions of the European Union and get a first-hand experience on the EU’s policy-making mechanisms. A second focus lied on the European Union agenda for international development and what the European Year for Development 2015 entails. Debate, exchange and network with two dozens of fellow political science students from Europe and beyond for three intensive days, with numerous academic and social delights featured. Institutional visits included the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, EUROPEAID and the Permanent Representation of Denmark to the European Union. Of course, there was time for some good Belgian beers!
Madrid: The Euro Crisis – Causes, Impacts and Solutions
November 23th – 27th, 2014
22 students from a large variety of countries, led by two IAPSS Study Trip Coordinators, spent four inspiring days in Spain’s capital Madrid – from November 23rd to November 27th, 2014. Aiming at gaining a better understanding of the current socio-economic developments in Spain and their implications on the EU and international level, the focus lied on three topics: the Spain and the economic crisis, (im)migration policies and the Catalan debate.
The group met with many different actors and got to know a variety of diverging viewpoints and opinions on the topics addressed. The program included meetings with representatives of the European Commission in Spain, the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration of Spain and the Spanish Guardia Civil, with two MPs from parties of different standpoints on the Catalan independence movement, a professor specialized on the EU’s position towards the movement as well as the heads of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The trip’s program was perfected with a vibrant social program, from exploring the beautiful city in its depth to enjoying traditional Spanish delicacies and discovering the pub and club scene.
Kosovo: Europe’s Youngest – Dependence and Sovereignty
September 21st – 28th, 2014
From September 21st to 28th, 2014, the IAPSS Study Trip to Kosovo took place, leading a group of 22 students of political science, international relations, and related fields from various countries to Europe’s youngest sovereign state.
After Kosovo has been goverened by an United Nations interim administration since the end of the war in 1999, Kosovo claimed its independence in 2008 which is currently recognized by 107 states worldwide (as of December 2014). Countries who do not recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty from Serbia include Serbia itself, the Russian Federation, China as well as five EU members countries for various reasons, incl. fear of a growing domestic separatism (e.g. in Spain, Romania or Slovakia). Increasing the number of international recognitions is “one of the key goals of Kosovo’s foreign policy”, as Ambassador Bekim Sejdiu explained during our visit to the country’s capital Pristina.
Meeting the country manager of the World Bank the group discussed Kosovo’s current economic difficulties and his anticipations for economic growth, cross-border trade and greater economic integration. Coming together with members of Kosovo’s parliament, US Embassy in Pristina, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, EULEX (the EU’s civilian CDSP mission) and the OSCE, the group listened to and discussed their viewpoints on Kosovo’s sovereignty, its struggle with widespread corruption, and the democratic and ecomonic transformation process of the country.
Part of the program was a side visit to Mitrovica, a city that is divided into an Albanian and a Serbian part, with two realities, two currencies, two languages – divided by the Ibar river. Meeting with representatives of local NGOs, the group got to know the work of the Mitrovica’s civil society which seeks to bridge the differences and conflicts between the two major ethnic groups and to advance mutual understanding and cooperation.
Enjoying tasty baklava, borek and qefte, and jumping into Pristina’s young and dynamic night scene, the trip was rounded up with a great social program. Faleminderit, Kosova!
United States: The State of the Transatlantic Union
August 10th – 22nd, 2014
Resulting from a cooperation between IAPSS and the German-American Young Transatlantic Initiative, a two-week long trip focussing on the “The State of the Transatlantic Union” led 15 members of each association to the United States. Meeting with policy-makers, civil society actors, think tank and research institute staff, members of the diplomatic arena and creative industry, the diverse European group discussed and evaluated both present and future of the European – US American relations.
The first ever IAPSS Study Trip to the US started in New York, and continued to Washington, with side trips to Annapolis (Maryland), Charlottesville (Virgina) and the stunning Shenandoah National Park for a two-days mid-trip break enjoying the lush green beauty of the park’s nature, not that far from the US capital.
In the midst of the revelation of the NSA’s surveillance practices in Europe and the negotiations on the transatlantic trade agreement – TTIP – the group never missed the opportunity to address, review and discuss issues on the transatlantic agenda.
In the afternoons and evenings, everyone was excited to visit the uncounted spectacular sights both Washington D.C. and New York City have on offer. From Ben’s Chili Bowl in WDC to a picnic in NYC’s Brooklyn Bridge Park right at the shores of East River, the evening activities were numerous and contributed to the overall excitement of the group.
Tunisia: Transition towards Democracy? Developments, Challenges and Solutions
June 8th – 14th, 2014
The 2nd IAPSS Study Trip in 2014 led us to Tunisia’s capital Tunis. Taking place from June 8th till June 14th, the trip focused on the “Transition towards Democracy? Developments, Challenges and Solutions” addressing Tunisia’s battle for a post-revolutionary stabilisation and democratic transformation.
In 2011, the authoritarian Tunisian president Ben Ali was overthrown by a popular revolution. Free elections were held for the first time in the Arab country. Since then Tunisia has been consolidating its young democracy with a series of ups and downs. But what is the state of this democratization as of today? The focus of this study trip was on providing answers to this question.
The week was filled with visits to NGOs, political institutions, talks to social activists, meetings with diplomats and policy-makers and, of course, discussions with fellow participants from all across the planet as well as local students.
The delicious Tunisian cuisine, the (almost) guaranteed sunny weather and a side trip to the artists’ sea town of Sidi Bou Said contributed to the overall success of our first study trip to an African country.