European Union Policy Studies

EUSA 2015

EUSA 2015

For the first time this year, the EUPS program instituted two research assistant positions. The year’s two research assistants, Ryan Prusator and Peg Schmelzinger, were selected to work side-by-side with Program Director John Scherpereel and Academic Coordinator Caterina Paolucci on various EU-related research projects. The two research teams (2010 program alum Jerry Wohlgemuth has joined the Scherpereel-Schmelzinger team) submitted papers from the projects to the biennial meeting of the EU Studies Association. Both papers were accepted and subsequently presented at the EUSA conference in Boston in March.

While many conference participants were only a train or car ride away, the two EUPS students joined the hoards of European scholars making the transatlantic trek to Boston. The conference itself was an amalgam of respected scholars—well known to each other and within their field—and doctoral students who were hoping to follow in their footsteps. Some high-profile speakers, including economist Thomas Piketty and former HRVP Baroness Catherine Ashton, joined in on the proceedings.

The conference, which lasted four days, was broken down into thematic sessions. Paolucci and Prusator’s work, entitled “A Portrait of the New Italian MEPs: Women, Young and . . . Revolutionary?” was presented during the session “MEPs and Electoral Politics.” The Scherpereel-Wohlgemuth-Schmelzinger paper on “Adoption and Use of Twitter as a Representational Tool” was discussed during a session on “Intraparliamentary Dynamics at Multiple Levels.”

Presenting and hearing feedback from the academic community, in particular during small group debates, was an excellent exercise for both assistants. Schmelzinger noted, “Our session, in particular, helped us to understand areas where our paper could be improved that we had been unable to see from the inside and provided possible solutions to the problem areas we had already identified.” Prusator echoed this notion: “Even though we presented on the first day, there was still very much to do for the rest of the week. Several of the papers presented were very similar to our topic, so we attended those relevant panels to further spark ideas on nuances about our own research.”

Overall, the conference helped both students keep current with the academic community on issues related to the European Union and its place in the world. They were inspired by the diverse opinions and obvious passion and commitment to the subject.  While it was a humbling experience for the assistants to take part in a conference with so many professors and high-level researchers, they also managed to fit in as peers, rather than simply students of the European Union.

As the academic year winds down, both students hope to put final touches on their research. Their experience thus far has certainly helped to hone their skills as writers and communicators in the professional realm, but the cherry on top would be to see their names published in a journal.

Ryan Prusator and Peg Schmelzinger contributed to this article


Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Last Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018

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