A celebratory UL@50 event to mark 50 years of European Studies took place on Monday 17th April 2023 in the University of Limerick. Hosted by Professor Joachim Fischer, Jean Monnet Chair in European Cultural Studies and Dr Sorcha de Brún, Course Director, BA European Studies, and organised by a working committee in AHSS and the UL@50 team, the hybrid event saw European Studies alumni, faculty, retired faculty, guests and current students come together in the Millstream Court Room and online, for a series of panels and presentations. Followed by Question and Answer sessions, the discussions explored the changing nature of European Studies in the 21st century, and its implications for teaching the subject at third level.
Introduced by the Provost, Prof. Shane Kilcommins, Professor Emeritus Brigid Laffan of the European University Institute and UL Alumna, delivered her keynote speech on ‘The 21st Century Dynamic of European Integration’, where she underlined for the assembled guests the current tensions within Europe and the concept of collective power that the European project embodies.
Prof. Mairéad Moriarty, Dr Angela Farrell, Dr Sandra Joyce and Prof. Bernadette Andréosso-O’Callaghan respectively chaired and introduced the student, faculty and guest panels.
Amongst those in attendance were Mr. Stephen Ryan of the Department of Foreign Affairs; Professor Emeritus Edward Moxon-Browne and Ms Jutta Jennings of the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce, all of whom noted the high calibre of graduates from European Studies and spoke of the continued demand for these graduates in the public and private sectors.
Perhaps the highlight of the event were the students of European Studies themselves. They did the University of Limerick proud and spoke in a mature and articulate way about collaboration and creativity, and how both these approaches had empowered them to work in teams and to hone their leadership skills. Their presentations included fourth-year European Studies students Niamh McLoughlin and Sarah Nunan who gave an excellent presentation on the ConSIMium simulation exercise in which they participated in Brussels in February 2023 together with four other UL students, when the Irish Universities Association chose UL to represent Ireland for this simulation exercise.
The students’ panel was followed by a ceremony to announce the winners of the writing and art competition EUROPA 2073 organized specially for this European Studies event by Prof. Fischer, with many of the winning undergraduate students from universities all over Ireland present to receive their awards. Students were to imagine creatively Europe in fifty years’ time. The entries were judged by novelist Dr Dónal Ryan of the School of English, Irish and Communication, novelist (in French) Dominique Le Meur of the School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics, and lecturer in creative writing, Dr Vicky Brady of Mary Immaculate College. The winners within the category of creative writing in English were: Hollie Hannon, University of Galway (1st Prize); Nicholas O’Keeffe, Trinity College Dublin (2nd Prize); and Liam McCourt, Dundalk Institute of Technology (3rd Prize).
Irish language writing prizes were awarded to Alanagh Ní Chonghaile Ní Ghríofa, University of Galway (1st Prize); Clara Ní Dhonnacha, University of Galway (2nd Prize); and Karin Mason, University of Limerick (3rd Prize).
The prizes in the modern languages category were won by: Aishling Cunniffe, University of Galway (1st Prize), Luzie von Metzradt, Trinity College Dublin (2nd Prize) and Anna Bamaine, Trinity College Dublin (3rd Prize).
The Special Prize sponsored by the Irish Association for Contemporary European Studies (IACES) was won by Fionnuala O’Connor, University of Limerick and was presented by IACES Board member Prof. John O’Brennan of Maynooth University. The winning entries will shortly be available on the website of the Centre for European Studies at the University of Limerick.
The event concluded with a presentation to Prof. Fischer by Executive Dean, AHSS, Dr Sandra Joyce, to thank him for his major contribution to European Studies, both in the University of Limerick and at a national and international level.