Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, a professor at Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius university has been awarded with a position of a Jean Monnet Chair. His proposal ‘Teaching, researching and debating contemporary European issues’ (TRENDS) aims at revising, expanding and upgrading EU studies on both bachelor and master levels to integrate contemporary European issues into the study curriculum of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University and offer European studies to the students of other departments of Vilnius University. The project is guided by three main goals: first, to motivate bachelor students to pursue master level studies of the EU and choose professional carrier in Lithuanian and EU public institutions working on those issues, second, to widen access to European studies to other departments of social sciences, humanities, nature and exact sciences of Vilnius University and third to stimulate the public debate on European issues, counter misleading narratives about the EU and provide knowledge to non-academic audiences about the EU institutions, policies and current issues.
The underlying motivation for the proposed activities is based on the need to reinvigorate interest in what is happening in the EU among young generation and to contribute to public debates on the contemporary European issues in Lithuania. It originates from a currently visible decline in the interest in EU matters compared to the times of EU accession fifteen years ago. This decline is manifested in fewer students opting to study EU subjects on the master program level, reduction in the number of theses written on the EU subjects, fewer books published on EU related subjects in Lithuanian as most scholars now target English language journals, decline of quality debates on European issues and intellectual exchanges between policy makers and scholars that used to be more frequent in the times of EU accession, and to some extent, in the run up to the Lithuania’s EU Council rotating presidency in 2013.
To reach the aims of the proposal, prof. Vilpišauskas will provide a versatile set of deliverables, which includes revision of already existing and creation of new courses on contemporary European issues, preparation of a module on the most relevant European dilemmas for the Political Science School, provision of focused and systematic research guidance as well as support for students’ participation in yearly visits to the EU institutions in Brussels, organization of visits to smaller cities and towns outside the capital Vilnius to meet local audiences and discuss European issues, preparation of a theoretically grounded and empirically informed monograph on Contemporary European issues, and various other measures, oriented not only towards academic community, but also broader audiences.