2022-2023 Europaeum Scholar Experiences – A Blog by Hadil Louz
Founded in 1992 by the University of Oxford, the Europaeum is an association of eighteen of Europe’s leading universities, including the University of St Andrews which has been an active part of the network since 2017. The network hosts the Europaeum Scholars Programme that supports talented people to make a difference across Europe.
The programme runs alongside a PhD and aims at highly motivated PhD students in the Humanities or Social Sciences. In this blog series about Europaeum scholar experiences, we hear from current PhD students who are engaged in the 2022-2023 programme.
In our first blog, Hadil Louz, PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews shares her experience as a Europaeum Scholar.
Experiences as a Europaeum Scholar
As a Palestinian refugee who overcame personal hardship, first as a resident of Gaza and then as a refugee in the UK, it means a lot for me to have been selected as a Europaeum Scholar in the hugely competitive and prestigious Europaeum Scholars Programme.
The Europaeum programme is a two-year policy and leadership course that offers an opportunity to be part of a network with intellectual and doctoral scholars from different universities across Europe who are interested in promoting the public good and rethinking the future of Europe.
Currently, I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, awarded with a fully funded Sanctuary scholarship, from the University of St. Andrews. My PhD research proposal focuses on Palestinian refugees living in Berlin and the process of negotiating citizenship and belonging in Germany. It examines how Palestinians make a ‘home away from home’ in Berlin and practice transnationalism, whilst observing and engaging with the history of settler colonialism, the continuous ethnic cleansing of their homeland, and their journey of displacement. It also explores how memories of political violence and exile are subtly shaped by current circumstances, and how current life possibilities and pressures reconfigure memories of the past in a diasporic community.
I am not a European citizen, but a political refugee who resides in the UK for four years; thus, on a personal-life level, having such a fruitful experience nourishes and enlightens my knowledge about European citizenship, value, policy, and culture.
While on the academic level, it adds value to my research to comprehend the refugees’ policies in Europe. It has always been an ambition to bring change through policy work and decision-making. Hence, understanding the complexities of European policymaking will strengthen my skills to relentlessly advocate for vulnerable groups in Europe such as refugees and migrant workers.
Since March of this year, I have received three intensive modules in different cities in Europe including Oxford, Brussels, Leuven, and Luxembourg. Through these three modules, I learnt a lot about the unprecedented scale of challenges posed on Europe today including the military response to the war in Ukraine, the refugee crisis, European energy sovereignty, NATO, and COVID-19 government responses. Moreover, we further discussed some important conferences, policies, and strategies such as the Enlargement of the Western Balkans, NextGenerationEU and the Commission’s Communication Strategy, and The Conference on the Future of Europe. Furthermore, the programme offered sufficient workshops on environment-related policies and their implications, digital policies, security policies, EU citizenship and values, and the European Parliament’s way of operation.
During the second module, the EU Parliament, Brussels, May 2022.Yet the journey has not finished, I was humbled and immensely grateful to get the chance to interact and engage in conversations with lawyers, historians, sociologists, politicians, EU policymakers, journalists, judges, economists, and future leaders of Europe (my friends in the Europaeum).
The Europaeum programme also offered us the opportunity to visit some important places such as the European Commission and European Parliament in Brussels, the offices of the Vlaamsbrabant Province in Leuven, Autorité Luxembourgeoise Indépendante de l’audiovisuel (ALIA), RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg Headquarters, and the law faculty and EU quarter in Luxembourg. Additionally, working with talented scholars from across the Europaeum network is a precious and effective opportunity as our interaction and relationship developed more than I expected. The experience teases out potential and boosts self-development. As doctoral students from a network of 18 European universities, we shared our experiences, exchanged ideas, supported each other with new references and sources of research, and became friends. We are now at the stage of being more focused on conceptualising potential solutions to the contemporary shortcomings and social and political problems of some existing regional projects and strategies in Europe.
I am now a part of an interdisciplinary and highly motivated and talented cohort who share the same interest in common as we are currently working on a policy proposal to address the exploitation of migrant workers in Europe. We will be working together on our project during the upcoming workshops and training courses that will be conducted in Lisbon, Bologna, Geneva, Helsinki and Berlin.
Finally, I am keen to contribute my own academic and institutional knowledge and personal experience as a refugee to make meaningful change in our communities and beyond. I extend my gratitude to the Europaeum Scholars Programme team for their huge effort and fascinating organisational work and for making this experience as transformative, memorable, inspirational, joyful, and effective.
If you wish to discuss the Europaeum Scholars Programme, please contact the [email protected] or Europaeum Programme Director, Dr Tracey Sowerby.