June 06th 2024

Study trip to Brussels: experience EU politics at first hand

Insight into EU institutions and political processes: transformative experiences and valuable networking

From May 21 till May 24, students from the bachelor's program Nonprofit, Social & Health Care Management embarked on an insightful study tour to Brussels, the Capital of the European Union. This educational journey aimed to provide firsthand experience of the EU’s inner workings, enhancing the students’ understanding of European governance and policy-making processes.

The program was structured to offer a comprehensive overview of the EU’s principal institutions. The tour began with visits to the Permanent Representation of Austria in the EU, where students gained insights into how member states interact with and influence EU policy. This was followed by a visit to the European Parliament, including an exploration of the iconic Hemicycle, where pivotal decisions shaping the future of Europe are made.

It was an especially exciting time to be in Brussels due to the ongoing EU Parliament elections. Students realized how their vote influences the EU legislative procedure, understanding that it is truly impactful and meaningful. The elections added a vibrant and dynamic backdrop to the visit, underscoring the democratic nature of the EU and the importance of active civic participation.

The itinerary also included visits to the Council of the EU and the European Commission. These visits provided students with a deeper understanding of the legislative and executive branches of the EU, showcasing the complexity and collaborative nature of European governance.

One of the highlights of the tour was an invitation by the EU Representation of the State of Tyrol to participate in a panel discussion on "Lobbying and Interest Representation in the EU." Held on Wednesday evening, this session offered a platform for students to engage with experts on the mechanisms and ethical considerations of lobbying within the EU framework. The panel provided practical insights into how various stakeholders advocate for their interests and influence EU policies.

On Friday morning, the program featured three thought-provoking lectures. These focused on the opportunities presented by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the EU, discussing how AI can drive innovation and efficiency across various sectors. Moreover, the lecture on "Connecting Health Policy to Social Impact" highlighted the relationship between health policies and their broader societal implications. This session was instrumental in broadening the students' perspectives on future trends and the potential for impactful policy-making.

The study tour also emphasized the importance of networking and informal learning. An informal networking dinner with interns from various EU institutions provided students with the opportunity to discuss career paths, share experiences, and gain valuable advice from those currently navigating the professional landscape of the EU.

Reflecting on the study tour, the students expressed a heightened appreciation for the complexity and dynamism of the EU. The firsthand experiences and interactions underscored the significance of effective governance and the importance of ethical lobbying. This tour not only enriched their academic knowledge but also inspired them to consider careers in European governance and policy-making.

In conclusion, the study tour to Brussels was a transformative experience for the students of the Nonprofit, Social & Health Care Management program. It provided a unique blend of academic learning, practical insights, and professional networking, equipping them with the knowledge and inspiration to contribute meaningfully to the fields of nonprofit, social, and health care management within the EU context.

In this respect, we would like to thank the guides and experts from the various EU institutions, the lobby experts who participated in the panel discussion and the speakers of the lecture series. We would also like to thank the Province of Tyrol for hosting two of the events in Brussels.