Beginning Thursday, April 21, more than 160 students representing 18 colleges and universities will be in Bloomington to participate in the Midwest Model European Union, a three-day event that puts attendees in the roles of prime ministers, commissioners, and bureaucrats seeking to achieve European unity. The sessions start Thursday afternoon at the Indiana Memorial Union and run through Saturday afternoon.
This is the third year MMEU will be held at Indiana University. Tim Hellwig, director of the Institute for European Studies in SGIS, leads the event this year. IUPUI hosted the event for more than 20 years, under the guidance of John McCormick, a professor of political science.
Participating students are largely enrolled in courses at their universities covering Europe or the EU, specifically, including students enrolled in Hellwig’s course on EU politics this semester. Many of the students are returning model EU participants. With more than 26 teams representing almost all of the 28 members in the European Union, Hellwig said this is the closest the event has ever come to maxing out. “We’re real happy with how robust it seems to be,” he said.
At MMEU, event proceedings are designed to mimic the organization of the actual European Union. Students will be asked to write proposals that address issues in areas of economics and finance, foreign affairs, environment, and justice and home affairs, among others. Although discussion will be based on real-world events and dilemmas, Hellwig said issues addressed at MMEU will be slightly different.
“We’re kind of in this bizarro world,” Hellwig said. “We’re not debating the same things as the European Union’s debating right now. But there is a close match-up because a lot of the things the students have been reading are the issues that go into the proposals that they draft in their own universities throughout the semester.”
Hellwig predicts some of the issues students will most likely delve into will be the refugee crisis and Turkey’s relationship with the EU, the economic crisis, and the growing threat of terrorism throughout the EU. He also anticipates the question of whether Britain will exit the EU could build tension between students representing the British team and the rest of the participants.
MMEU is designed to help college students understand the workings and complexities of the European Union. Hellwig said one of the things that makes this event unique and immersive for students is the hands-on simulation.
“The content comes out of what the students have been working on basically from January,” he said. “We provide the infrastructure and the rules and regulations and the structure of it all. But what makes it interesting and exciting is that it’s the students that drive it, and what we decide upon will be based on what they thought was interesting to bring to the table.”