Maynooth University European Studies students visit Brussels

Friday, March 24, 2017 - 12:30

Maynooth University students recently visited Brussels as part of a programme which facilitates students of European Studies, History, Politics and Sociology to engage with the EU institutions and get to know the EU governance landscape.
The annual Field Trip, which is a compulsory trip for Second Year European Studies students, entails a study visit to Belgium for the purpose of experiencing at first hand the workings of the European Institutions in the Brussels area. The base for the Field Trip is the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe, located in the historic ‘Irish Colleage’ in the university city of Leuven, just north of Brussels. 
This year, the group comprised the full complement of twelve students from the European Studies cohort and ten students from both History and Politics/Sociology. Professor John O’ Brennan (Sociology) and Dr. John Paul Newman (History) accompanied the group on the trip. The group visited the European Parliament, met Irish MEPs Mairead McGuinness and Marian Harkin, learned about the specific work our MEPs do within the European Parliament, took a tour of the Parliament and played a Role Simulation game in the visitor centre. This is a virtual simulation of an actual EU negotiation and represents a state-of-the-art mechanism for introducing students to the challenges and vagaries of EU Decision-making.
The group also visited the Northern Ireland Executive Office and learned about the work done by that office in representing the interests of Northern Ireland citizens in EU governance. Equally interesting was a visit to the office of Dr. Rory Keane (‎Head of Office at the United Nations Liaison Office for Peace and Security), where the students had the opportunity to meet UN officials and investigate the work they do in the EU and wider world.
Students also benefited from a careers session where they met and heard from Maynooth University graduates working in a range of fields in the Brussels beltway. The group also visited Ieper/Ypres for a tour of the Ieper Battlefields, followed by a visit to the “In Flanders Fields” museum and the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin gate.  The final day of the trip was spent doing a tour of the historic Leuven University library and culminated with a Gala Dinner that night with guest speakers.