CERiM hosts Asia-Europe Summer School in Brussels

UM Campus Brussels played host to a week-long summer school from 5-11 August, bringing together some 30 students from 12 countries across Asia and Europe. Focused on relations between the European Union (EU) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the summer school included an interdisciplinary mix of presentations on issues such as trade, security, human rights and cultural relations.

The week, which also included a number of educational activities, visits to the European institutions and a trip to Bruges, concluded with presentations from the students who had researched specific issues within the wider theme of the summer school in small groups. Two students from Maastricht University, Carola Bertone (BA European Studies) and Shelly Tsui (MA European Studies on Society, Science and Technology) were among the majority of participants who benefited from financial support provided by a scholarship.

The week in Brussels was the final part of a three-week long project organised by an international consortium of academic partners: the Asia-Europe Institute of the University of Malaya, the EU Centre in Singapore, and the Centre for European Research in Maastricht (CERiM). During the first two weeks, the international group of students selected came together in Kuala Lumpur in order to learn about and explore various aspects under the theme of “Cultural Pluralism in Asia and Europe”.

The programme in Kuala Lumpur consisted of various lectures given by prominent Asian and European scholars, dealing with topics such as religious pluralism in Malaysia to a comparative study of ASEAN and the EU as region-building institutions in addition to various cultural activities such as visits to the Malaysian Parliament and the historic city of Melaka. At the end of the two-week programme in Kuala Lumpur, students also participated in the annual Asia-Europe Conference addressing the question: “Is it time for Europe to play a broader role in Asia?”. The conference addressed the current state of relations between Europe and Asia, compared and examined ASEAN and EU regionalism, and evaluated opportunities for re-invigorating the Asia-Europe relationship. CERiM co-director Prof. Dr. Thomas Christiansen, who also acted as one of the academic directors of the summer school, spoke at the conference panel on “Asian-European Regionalism in Comparative Perspective”.

The three weeks of learning, research and cultural exchange helped to foster the creation of an international network of young leaders – in other words, the summer school was not only an educational project, but also an example of Asia-Europe relations coming to life through the cooperation and the new friendships among the participants.

The activity is supported by the Jean Monnet Network on “Challenges to Multiculturalism and Multilateralism in Europe and Southeast Asia – Policy Research and Debate”, a network led by the EU Centre in Singapore and co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Programme. The project has initial funding for three years and will allow the organization of similar activities in the coming years in Jakarta, Indonesia and in Singapore – on each occasion in combination with a week-long part in Brussels.

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