Brandt School Universität Erfurt

Project Group Trip to Brussels

This past February, a group of nine students, joined by their supervisor, Professor Edgar Aragón, traveled to Brussels for three days to attend the kickoff meeting for a Horizon 2020 project.  The group, part of a 12-student consulting team, worked for six months preparing research and materials, and enjoyed the rare opportunity to present their work in front of consortium partners for an EU project. This undertaking was done as part of the mandatory project group for second-year WBS students, and was done in coordination with a client organization, Oikodrom – The Vienna Institute for Urban Sustainability, who also served as consortium leader for the community and urban development initiative.

On the first day, traveling team members embarked upon the almost seven-hour ICE ride to Brussels, and immediately took to making the most out of their time in the city. Upon arrival, the group walked through some of the popular neighborhoods of Brussels, as this was the first time in the city for many. They also attended a meeting with representatives of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), a policy think tank focused on economic issues, particularly trade. Finally, a small WBS alumni dinner was also held at a café near the hostel that evening, where students and alumni discussed careers, theses, and life in the city over dinner and drinks.

On the second day, the group successfully delivered an almost half-hour presentation of their results, which were divided into four deliverables: background research, stakeholder management, dissemination plan, and a website. This also included a brief question-and-answer session, during which local and international project partners inquired with great enthusiasm about the prepared materials.
Following the conclusion of the presentation, the student group was invited to a consortium lunch, where students networked with project partners and learned from the mixture of academic, business, and policy expertise gathered in the room. 

The final day of the trip included a brief tour of some prominent EU buildings, as well as a meeting with representatives from the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), a policy think tank focused on transatlantic cooperation between North America and Europe. Considering the recent tensions in US-German relations, the issues discussed in this meeting, such as military funding and trade agreements, seemed particularly pressing. Students also had the chance to ask Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the GMF Brussels Office Corinna Horst questions about the organization’s range of activities, as well as the various programs and positions it offers.