Study Visit Brochure
Brussels, Belgium: Crossroads
January 8–18, 2013
Brussels is a large, predominantly French-speaking city, surrounded by Flemish-speaking Flanders. It is the capital of Belgium, and the “capital” of the European Union. German is the third national language of Belgium, and the EU has 24 official languages. It is a crossroads of communities, policy and communication, How does anything get done?
This special course will focus on different levels of government and society and how they interact to define and address the pressing issues of immigration and the environment: civil servants, political parties, interest groups, unions, business representatives, etc.
This is a short-term study abroad program with two phases: The first is a Block II course in the Fall of 2013. The second is the 10-day trip to Brussels itself. This is a 300-level course in the Politics Department, in the category of Comparative Politics and International Relations.
Any IC student who has completed at least 2 social science courses by the Fall of 2013 is eligible to join us. Students need to have a minimum GPA of 2.5.
Students must fill out an application available at /oip/abroad_apply.htm (print off the short-term application). Applications will be evaluated by academic record, judicial review and interview with instructor.
January 7-18, 2014, in addition to regular attendance in the Block II class in the Fall of 2013.
Students may enroll in the Block II course for 2 credits, following the usual registration process. The two tuition credits will be treated the same as any other Block II course. Additional costs will be for 1 academic credit ($1,058). The Belgian component will cost ($2,025 for the program). This does not include meals, but does include round-trip airfare ($950), lodging (900), in-country transportation ($175), field trips and entrance fees. Please note that the actual costs may still vary with changes in airline prices and the exchange rate. Ithaca College will provide financial assistance of up to $333 dollars per person, based on a total delegation of 6 students.
The course examines how different social and political actors define two major contemporary issues (the environment and immigration) but also how the actors interact with each other. Each political actor may define the issues differently. Each actor has distinct goals, which may or may not be compatible with the goals of other actors. How does each actor define the arena in which key decisions must be made? Who are the friends and allies? What resources does the group or institution have to advance its interests in that arena? To conclude, we will try to identify victories and defeats for each political actor.
We will begin in Ithaca with an introduction to the Belgian government and the European Union. We will then look at the interest groups and actors involved in the issue debates, trying to understand their priorities and goals, as well as their role in the political process. Examples include the relevant offices of the European Union, Belgian political institutions, political parties such as Vlaams Belang and Ecolo, labor unions, business and religious groups, such as L’Union de défense des sans-papiers (immigration rights).
In Brussels itself, we will visit as many offices and groups as we can. The goal is to identify basic elements of the political process that apply in all political systems. Then we will distinguish those political factors, resources and tensions that are specific to the issues of the environment and immigration, and to Brussels and Belgium.
After the course, students will better understand the interaction between different elements of the political system, how to identify and understand their interaction. Students will be encouraged to consider where they would lie in the Belgian political systems, and to reflect on what lessons they might apply to the US debates on immigration and the environment.