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ODU Receives Grant to Strengthen European Ties

Old Dominion University's ACCESSEU, a comprehensive plan to build alliances and partnerships between Hampton Roads and Europe, has been awarded a $157,000 grant as part of the United Nations' 2011-12 "Getting to Know Europe Grants Competition." ACCESSEU is led by ODU's graduate program in international studies and the graduate program in business administration.

"This is a tremendous recognition of the region and the university," said Regina Karp, associate professor of political science and director of the graduate program in international studies, the project's principal investigator. ACCESSEU is an 18-month program dedicated to relationship building between our region and Europe, and is centered on the themes of education, community awareness and local networking.

According to Karp, such a partnership is long overdue for Hampton Roads. She points to the fact that the region has a large European presence with NATO and the military, and that half of the area's international businesses hail from Europe, including BAE Systems, Maersk, Siemens and Volvo. "By strengthening these relationships and building new ones, we are harnessing the industrial, educational and civic potential of Hampton Roads," she said.

The initiative will introduce the Hampton Roads community at large to European perspectives on global problem solving. This includes educational activities for high school, college and graduate students in social studies, European history, politics and government, and a model Europe simulation exercise with other universities in the region.

Larry Filer, who directs ODU's M.B.A. program in the College of Business and Public Administration and served as the co-principal investigator, said the grant will benefit both ODU and the region. "It will help us strengthen some ongoing programs and existing regional outreach activities. In addition, we will be able to create several new initiatives in the area of economic development partnerships with the European Union, which should be a tremendous asset to the Hampton Roads business community."

ACCESSEU plans to arrange study abroad visits to European Union offices in Brussels and to a number of Hampton Roads sister cities in Europe. ODU's business college currently sponsors an annual trip to Western Europe to study the major port cities. According to Filer, the trip would be expanded to add more students, including students from low-income families, and to focus on political and diplomatic issues. Upon their return, the students will share their experiences with high school students through in-class presentations.

"From an academic standpoint, nearly every event taking place during the grant period will be open to students and many of the activities will be specifically targeted to our student body," Filer said. "The grant from the EU provides further evidence of our M.B.A. program's commitment to international business education, and it also provides additional momentum for our program right on the heels of our recent top 15 ranking in international management education by the Princeton Review."

In terms of community outreach, ACCESSEU is partnering with the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads in its annual World Quest community quiz competition, to introduce a special section on Europe and the European Union. A partnership with the Economics Club of Hampton Roads, which hosts a series of annual luncheon programs and is sponsored by ODU's business college, will focus on such themes as the European Central Bank and trans-Atlantic investment.

To infuse the region with an EU presence and promote regional connections between Hampton Roads and Europe, ACCESSEU will create a Mobile EU Information Exhibit at some two dozen local civic and cultural events. Stocked with up-to-date information about the European Union and special features on rotationally selected member states, this grass-roots exhibit is designed to make the EU accessible to the public at large.

The project also plans to create a Europe/EU Regional Faculty Expert Guide, to be located at the ODU Business Gateway, an office that offers companies, organizations, military commands and entrepreneurs resources to help solve business problems, expand capabilities and create new ventures. The guide will centralize expertise on the EU and Europe and quickly connect the regional educational, business and cultural communities, facilitating formal and informal exchanges between different constituencies and creating much-needed regional synergies.

"These partnerships are tremendously exciting for students and business leaders in the region," said Karp. "If Europe and the United States cannot work together, then we cannot succeed. Partnerships like these are integral for the challenges of tomorrow."

This article was posted on: December 3, 2010

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