Letter from the director of EUPS

The class of 2024 joins an active EUPS community

M.A. in Political Science, European Union Policy Studies
EUPS students travel to Brussels in Nov. 2023


Dear EUPS alumni and friends,

The 18 students in this year’s EUPS cohort are nearing the conclusion of a very busy fall semester. Several elements of their experience mirror those of previous students in our program. They have conducted a broad and deep examination of the past, present, and future of European political institutions. Their coursework has been complemented by visits from practitioners and by a week-long trip to Brussels that included a chance to observe a plenary of the European Parliament which was in session in Brussels that week. Beyond their studies, our students made time to explore Florence while also visiting various sights elsewhere in Italy and across Europe. In addition, this year’s cohort began a year-long examination of political polarization in varied post-conflict settings around the world as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab initiative. Following this cross-national work during the fall semester, next spring our students will focus on political dynamics in Montenegro and will share their analysis with DoS colleagues.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone again who helped our program participate in JMU’s system academic program review during 2021 and 2022. Your willingness to share your thoughts and experiences formally in the 2021 biannual Alumni Survey as well as informally in conversations and e-mails has helped to consolidate our strengths while also charting a path toward future innovations. The two most frequent suggestions called for additional support for data analysis and for an increase in program content on U.S. politics and policy, while retaining our program’s emphasis on European dynamics. During 2023, two additional members of JMU’s political science faculty – John Hulsey and David Jones – began work on new course proposals that are currently under review in JMU’s formal curriculum approval process. Prof. Hulsey is developing a course on data visualization and analysis while Prof. Jones is building out a course on political communication and policy advocacy that will examine U.S. dynamics in periodic comparison with European dynamics. The timing of curricular decisions across a large university is uncertain, but we hope to begin offering these courses perhaps as soon the 2024-2025 academic year. I will update everyone regarding the status of these proposals in the May 2024 program newsletter. 

In the meantime, I want to focus the remainder of this letter on three ways that alumni can engage with our program over the next six months:

  • The 2023 Alumni Survey is available online at:
    • https://jmu.questionpro.com/eups-survey23 
    • Please respond by Monday December 11, 2023. Your replies help us to understand the professional outcomes experienced by graduates and your reflections also help us to identify our strengths and to clarify pathways for continuous improvement.

  • The Brussels Effect: The Role of the EU in Trade, Digital Economy, and Sustainability”
    • On Wednesday March 6, 2024, an analyst from the Delegation of the European Union to the United States will speak at the JMU Washington Center on the impact of the EU these and other major contemporary economic issues.
    • The address for the event is: 1400 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 
      • The presentation will take place in the event space in the middle of the ground floor.
    • The timetable for the event is: 
      • 6-7pm – Presentation, followed by question & answer from the audience
      • 7-8pm – Reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres
    • This event is sponsored by the EUPS program and by JMU’s Department of Political Science. We want this to be an event that brings together alumni from across the political science department and its various programs.
    • Please register by January 31, 2024:
  • The 2024 Alumni Reunion in Florence will be held on Friday May 10, 2024. 
    • From mid-morning to midday there will be alumni panels via which our graduates can share their professional experiences with our current students.
    • Then, in the early evening, there will be a light aperitivo followed by a dinner. This warm, social event enables alumni to re-connect with faculty and staff while also building out relationships with the current EUPS Class of 2024. 
    • Please use the link below to register for this event and/or to express your intention to participate in a future May reunion event in Florence.
      • https://jmu.questionpro.com/eups2024reunion 
      • Please respond by Monday December 11, 2023. This will give you time to be begin making your travel plans while it also gives our team time to reserve a space appropriate for the size of our group.


Beyond the Alumni Survey and these upcoming events, please let our program know whenever you have time to talk with our current students (whether in person or online) and when you have time to share your experiences with prospective students. Please also remember to reach out whenever you are in search of allies in a reconsideration of your own professional path. Our alumni community is vibrant on its own, but also is well connected to other professionals. Please remember that your fellow graduates and our faculty and staff are all potential resources for you at any time. All you need to do is ask. 

Cordiali saluti,

Charles Blake

Charles Blake has been a political science professor at JMU since 1992. He began teaching in the EUPS program in 2016 and has served as the director since January 2020. His research focuses on the politics of policymaking and on the pursuit of transparency in public administration.

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Published: Thursday, November 30, 2023

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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