Model European Union: Brussels, January, 2018

Study Visit Brochure



                                                                                                                    Brussels, Belgium: Immigration and Integration

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 represented in Brussels, and how they interact to define and address the pressing issues of immigration and integration of cultures: civil servants, political parties, interest groups, unions, business representatives, etc. At one level, this is about migrants coming from outside the EU, but there are frictions within Belgium as well, between the French-speaking Walloons and the Flemish speakers from Flanders.



This is a short-term study abroad program with two phases: The first is a Block II course in the Fall of 2017. The second is the 12-day trip to Brussels itself. This is a 300-level course in the Politics Department, in the category of Comparative Politics and International Relations. The Block II phase will be worth 2 credits, the study trip will earn 1 credit.


Any IC student who has completed at least 2 social science courses by the end of the Fall semester of 2017 is eligible to join us. Students need to have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Application process:

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 4-17, 2014, in addition to regular attendance in the Block II class in the Fall of 2013.

Cost estimates:

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 taken in Belgium. IN addition, transportation, lodging and food will add additional costs. Actual costs will vary, and are still being finalized. Ithaca College may provide some financial assistance, based on a funding availability.



The course examines how different social and political actors address the major contemporary issues of diversity, immigration and integration, 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?


We will begin in Ithaca with an introduction to the Belgian government and the European Union. We will then look at immigration and integration more closely. Special attention will go to the interest groups and actors involved in the debates on these issues, trying to understand their priorities and goals, as well as their roles and resources in the political process.  Examples include the relevant offices of the European Union, Belgian political institutions, political parties such as Vlaams Belang and other possible 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 immigration and integration.


After the course, students will better understand different elements of the political system, and their interactions. 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 integration.


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