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Select Students See EU Government in Action

Last year, Madison Moore ’15 was selected to do what only one St. Lawrence University student a year – and only one American student, for that matter – gets the opportunity to do.

Maddie took part in a three-week European Study Tour, which allowed her to see the European Union government at work, including Parliament, the Court of Justice, the European Central Bank and several other branches of European government.

But because this was a Canadian-developed program, she was the only American that took part in this student delegation.

“Speakers often spoke without knowing there was an American in the room,” said Maddie, a government major from Wayland, Mass. “I wasn’t just the only American, I was also one of the youngest people there. More than half of the students were graduate students, and many of them were on this trip to work on their thesis or dissertation. I learned a lot just from the questions they were asking.”

The European Union Study Tour & Internship Program was developed in the early 2000s by a consortium of prestigious Canadian universities, including the University of Toronto, Queens University, University of British Columbia and McGill University. And since 2010, St. Lawrence University has been sending one student to participate in the program each year.

Alan L. Draper, a St. Lawrence professor of government, teaches comparative politics and a politics in Europe course. Five years ago, he began searching for a way to take students to Brussels, the capital of the European Union.

“I learned this consortium of some of the best Canadian universities had already developed a program,” Draper said. “So I called up the director and asked if I could send a student, and he said we could if they had room. That’s when I realized I would have to send the very best and brightest students.”

Draper traveled to Brussels with Maddie in 2013, and both got to watch a case presented in front of the Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court.

“These are dense, high-level sessions that our students get to take part in,” he said.

The EU consists of 28 member states, where goods, services and people can circulate freely and where common social and human values are shared. Participants in the Study Tour experience meetings and events with public officials and politicians. The tour begins in Brussels on May 4 and concludes after three weeks on May 23, and includes seminars and events in Brussels, Antwerp, The Hague, Frankfurt, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.

This year, John Hicks ’15 of Frederick, Md., will represent St. Lawrence during the program. A government and environmental studies major, John took Draper’s comparative politics course in his first year. He interned last summer on Capitol Hill with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office and spent the fall semester in Denmark.

“I’m very interested in the European Union’s policies toward climate change and I’d like to see what we might be able to adopt here in America,” he said. “While I’ve studied European politics, I think it adds a whole different dimension actually being there and seeing the inner workings of the European government.”

Past participants include Alex Showerman ’10 and Herb Davis ’12.

Maddie said after participating in the program she noticed that the EU takes a different approach to government than the United States.

“Most of the governments of Europe would be what we would consider socialist, where there are more services provided to people and much higher taxes as well,” she said. “But people in Europe tend to see government more positively than they do here in the U.S. It was also really good for me because it helped shake my American-centric views toward government.”

Maddie is currently studying abroad in Italy during the spring 2014 semester.