I am very excited to share the outreach program that I have begun working on during my final semester at UNC! As a Global Studies and Contemporary European Studies double major, attending this university has afforded me the opportunity not only to learn about the European Union but also to be taught by professors who have worked for and with the EU. The UNC Center for European Studies, a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence, has been instrumental in bringing world-renowned professors, specialists, and researchers to campus in an effort to provide undergraduate and graduate students with unique opportunities to discuss and debate transatlantic relations and the role of the European Union.

However, I did not truly understand the concept or functions of the EU until I began my academic career at UNC.   As a student of the North Carolina public school system, I must admit that most of my history and economics lessons revolved around the United States and its organizations (somewhat understandably so). Yet, the European Union is such a large and important supranational organization, with world trade and relations extending to all corners of the world, that I think it is vital for students to be introduced to the EU before high levels of coursework in the university setting.

I am working on a specific outreach program for CES titled “Teaching the EU” Toolkits. Essentially, I am creating lesson plans, classroom tools, and activities for teachers to educate local K-12 students about the EU. Through online research, we have found that the official EU website has a plethora of primary and secondary school lesson plans. However, these resources are targeted towards a European audience. In other words, the EU has created lesson plans for European students who began learning about the EU at an early age. Through this finding, CES decided that our local K-12 students need more introductory lessons about Europe and the EU that become more advanced as grade levels increase.

These toolkits will contain all teaching materials, activities, teaching guides, and evaluations necessary to teach a comprehensive unit on the EU and the transatlantic relationship. These lessons and activities will educate Triangle students on languages, culture, and history and be dispersed to local schools throughout the area, resulting in at least 900 toolkits by May of 2016! A personal goal of mine is to make these lessons informative but also fun and interactive where students can enjoy learning about Europe and the EU! Stay tuned for updates as my research to start the EU toolkits evolves into tangible lessons and materials!

Amber Cassady

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