European Studies new centre's focus

by Stephen Forgacs
Staff writer

UBC is joining with European partners in business and government to establish a permanent Institute for European Studies within the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The institute will be devoted to interdisciplinary research and to graduate education leading to MA and PhD degrees in European Studies.

The institute will be funded jointly by the German government through the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch-Dienst (DAAD), other European governments, the European private sector and UBC for eight years after which funding will be provided through an endowment.

Prof. Peter Stenberg, head of the Dept. of Germanic Studies and chair of the institute's steering committee, said the institute will make UBC and Vancouver a national centre for activity related to Europe and a key meeting point in North America for European scholars.

Similar institutes exist in the U.S. at Berkeley, Harvard and Georgetown universities. Another, also funded in part by DAAD, was recently established in Birmingham, England.

Stenberg said the creation of the institute will serve to enhance UBC's ties to Europe and, because of the university's strong relationship with Asia, help bring Asian and European students and academics together.

"We are very Asian and Pacific Rim oriented here," said Stenberg. "The institute will remind us that we also have strong European interests. And it will be interesting to see if the institute becomes a meeting place of sorts for Europe and Asia."

Initial activities, including the development of degree programs, a seminar series and visiting scholars, will commence in the fall.

The first graduate students will join the institute in September 1998. Stenberg estimated that as many as 30 students will eventually study at the institute, working with members of numerous faculties including Arts, Commerce and Business Administration, Law, Graduate Studies and Education.

The institute's program will be enriched by a steady flow of visitors including visiting professors and writers from Germany and other European nations.

Stenberg also sees the institute as providing an opportunity for Europeans to learn from Canada's experiences with multiculturalism.

"Canada, and Vancouver in particular, have a lot of experience in dealing with challenges related to multiculturalism and immigration. Our experience with these challenges and the solutions we have arrived at are certainly of interest to what is becoming an increasingly multicultural Europe," he said.