In June 2019, the Delegation of the EU to the USA hosted a study tour to Brussels for American educators to learn about the EU. I had the honor of being the curriculum specialist for the tour, showing participants a variety of resources and helping them think about ways to take all of the information back to their students and colleagues. With that in mind, here are five reasons to bring the EU into your curriculum.
1. The EU is a fascinating democratic experiment which has led to peace since its establishment.
The idea that countries were willing to integrate certain sectors and give up a bit of their sovereignty to ensure peace is a quite positive story. That historical context, coupled with the way the EU is set up, can lead to opportunities for great discussions about multi-level governance, legitimacy, and sovereignty. Teachers can also try some of the simulations on the Delegation’s website.
2. The post-Cold War generation needs to understand why Europe matters.
Given the nature of the Cold War, it made sense to emphasize transatlantic relations, especially in terms of trade and security. Even though the Cold War ended almost thirty years ago, those issues are still relevant today. Students can see, for example, how much the EU trades with the US and also with their respective state. In terms of security, the EU and the US cooperate in numerous areas (e.g. energy security, cyber security, and maintaining peace.)
3. The US can learn a lot from the EU.
At a time when global problems require global solutions, the EU’s emphasis on multilateralism provides students with lessons about the importance of working together toward a common solution. Additionally, the EU is a leader in many policy areas, such as climate change and social issues (e.g. the European Pillar of Social Rights.)
4. Learning about the EU increases students’ global awareness.
If we want our students to be aware of the world around them, the EU is a great starting point. With the EU’s emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), teachers can first start out by talking about the 2030 Agenda and move on to EU policies in each of the seventeen goals. Additionally, since the EU is a global leader in development aid, students can learn what the EU does to help other countries make progress toward the SDG’s.
5. Teaching the EU is interdisciplinary.
At first glance, teaching the EU seems to be most at home in social studies classes. Due to the variety of cultures and languages (24 official ones!), however, the EU can be taught in music (think “Ode to Joy,”) art, foreign language, and even culinary classes.
Interested in teaching the EU?
· Begin with “Europe in 12 Lessons,” a publication that covers areas such as the history of the EU, its institutions, and what the future might bring.
· For something more in depth, you might want to use “How the EU Works.”
· If you’re looking for activities and materials, the EU has a website called the “Learning Corner.”
· Finally, to keep updated on EU-US relations, follow the Delegation of the EU to the USA and the Ambassador on social media.