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HUFS EU Center aims to bridge gaps

March 15, 2011 - 19:07 By
Hankuk University European Union Center will help bridge Korea with the largest economy in the world, according to the center’s president Park Chul.

The Hankuk University of Foreign Studies EU Center aims to contribute to overcoming the limited awareness and understanding of the European Union as a whole, its institutions and its policies in Korea.

The center, which opened yesterday, will extend its reach beyond academia to opinion leaders, policymakers, future leaders, and the general public, with a focus on promoting the importance of the EU as a significant actor in world politics and economy.

A European studies specialist, Park believes that through the novel Don Quixote “European mind and culture,” he told The Korea Herald.

European Union Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski believes that the center will fulfil a valuable role in a globalized world.

“When the council of universities was born centuries ago in Europe, at that time, universities were centers of international exchanges, people-to-people contacts,” said Kozlowski. “We have to do everything possible to have universities and centers for international students.”

The work program of the Centre consists of four activities: academic, outreach, exchange, and cooperation with other EU centers.

First and foremost, the undergraduate major in EU Studies will provide students from many disciplines an opportunity to take bachelor courses on the EU.

While the target group will be all undergraduate students at HUFS, the program will eventually open to other Korean universities that have student exchange program with HUFS.

The expected outcomes will be broadening job opportunities for students and encouraging students to apply for EU-related master’s courses.

Park sees a greater, international role for the center.

“Within this year, I want our EU Center to host a meeting of all EU ambassadors at our school to talk about how we can promote and understand more EU nations’ cultures, politics and economies,” he said.
(From left to right) Hankuk University of Foreign Studies President Park Chul, European Union Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski and Hyundai Research Institute president and CEO Kim Joo-hyun shake hands to inaugurate the nation’s third EU Center at HUFS. (Yonhap News)

For students, Park wants to go beyond economics and concentrate on literature because, as he said, the study of literature is very important to understanding the economics, politics and history of the European Union and its 27 member states.

High up on its outreach agenda, the center, which is collaborating with the Hyundai Research Institute, will organize and promote a wide range of forums about EU policies and current issues such as the Korea-EU free trade agreement.

The target groups are journalists, active and senior policy makers, academic and policy experts, private sector specialists and leaders of environmental movements.

“We expect that this forum will develop a close partnership between the EU and Korea and increase the visibility of the role and influence of the EU in Korea,” said Park.

As ambassador, Kozlowski will actively encourage Korean students to apply for exchange programs with European universities.

“This is the key to our future; if our young generations know each other it would be much easier to talk to each other and develop cooperation in many fields. We have many issues on which we can work together, why not share our experiences?” Kozlowski said.

By Yoav Cerralbo (