Politics and Policies of the EU: Internship Program in Brussels

Brussels, Belgium

Monday, June 4, 2012

An exciting and productive weekend (Saturday and Sunday)!

On Saturday we re-convened at the AU Brussels Center for the nitty-gritty of the weekend—detailed discussions covering the theories of European integration, the application of those theories to current and historical puzzles, and the theory and methods behind policy analysis.  After an intense morning session we re-energized with a fantastic lunch at d’Ici & d’Alleurs, a great little restaurant right on the larger University of Leuven campus.  Upon reconvening in the afternoon we worked through one of the greatest puzzles in European integration history – the 1986 Single European Act – as an example of how to conduct systematic, empirical policy analysis. 

After a day of intellectual “heavy lifting” another great dinner was certainly in order.  This time we went to l’Ultime Atome (how cute, a little French pun!) in the St. Bonifaz area of Brussels—one of the livelier districts that is not frequented by tourists so much but rather is characterized by a vibrant mix of local Belgians and N. African immigrant communities.  The dinner conversation mostly focused on the students’ travel plans for their upcoming free weekends, with Berlin, Amsterdam, and other noteworthy cities in the planning.  This is one of the great things about the Brussels program—you get great work experience interning 4 days a week, but then you also have time to explore beyond Brussels!  Once again, the food was fantastic and the desserts met with rave reviews from all around the table!

The weekend workshop concluded with a relaxed Sunday morning session in which we reviewed the policy analysis process and then also worked through some fun illustrations of why we shouldn’t assume that policymakers are “rational” actors (and the same goes for each one of us!).  Overall it was an intense weekend, but also a very enjoyable and productive weekend.  In particular, I enjoyed getting to know each of our program participants a bit better (something that is always best done over good food and drink!) and, of course, I enjoyed the chance to re-visit Brussels.  If anything, the time is too short – both for my visit and for the program overall, as the students seemed a bit in awe that they were nearly ½ -way through their internships already!  I have no doubt that they will continue to make the most of the experience, though.  For my part…well, I’m already looking forward to next year!

- Prof. Boesenecker

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