EU-Canada Study Tour - Sarah Hodgett
Feedback on the EU Canada study tour - September 2011
I was absolutely delighted to have been offered a place on the EU Canada study tour 2011. I applied to the tour in order to enhance my postgraduate studies at Master's level at the University of Stirling. My initial motivation in the application was "To explore the possibility of examining how Multi Level Governance works in Canada, particularly in regard to the political issues of federalism, regionalism, and the role of government, as well as considering the importance of issues of cultural diversity and identity".
· Upon reflection it is definite that this fantastic study tour allowed me to understand and learn about these areas of personal interest. However the tour also gave me the opportunity to consider a much wider range of contemporary Canadian issues, of which I knew little. For example, Trade Agreements, the Canadian economic climate, First Nations in Canada, drug policy and treatment facilities amongst many more.
· On the very first day of the tour, it was suggested to the participants that by the end of the trip it was hoped that we should all consider ourselves ‘Canadianists'. Upon returning home to Europe and having time to digest the richness of what we had just partaken I consider myself a Canadianist now. In fact, I am currently beginning my Master's dissertation at the University of Stirling and I am using the wealth of knowledge gained from the tour in this work. My dissertation is titled - "A comparative study focusing on Multi-Level Governance in Scotland (United Kingdom) and Quebec (Canada). Particularly focusing on education policy and its impact on educationally disadvantaged people within these nations"
I plan to carry out policy document analysis and qualitative interviews with some government officials in both Canada and the United Kingdom. I plan to address the following three questions in this research:
1. Does Multi Level governance impact on Scotland and Quebec similarly? Are there shared experiences?
2. What are the impacts of Multi Level Governance on education both in Scotland and Quebec?
3. How in particular has Multi Level Governance affected educationally disadvantaged people in First Nations communities in Quebec and in similar communities in Scotland?
· Beginning in Brussels, the tour gave us an invaluable introduction to issues of the European Union. Travelling East coast (beginning in Ottawa) to West coast (ending in Victoria) the tour gave my contemporaries and I a once in a lifetime trip to visit some of the most prestigious institutions across Canada. No other tour I know provides young Europeans with this fantastic opportunity to study Canada, to bring back this wealth of knowledge to Europe and use it in their home countries to build on academic literature.
· The EU Canada Study Tour was beneficial in so many ways other than academic development. We had the opportunity to meet thirty one other students from across the European Union, from which lifetime friendships have formed. The tour co-ordinators were very inspiring and pushed us to challenge our own opinions and understandings. On a few occasions we also had the tremendous opportunity to network with key figures, from which I hope to draw as part of my master's work. We also had the chance to see many cities in such a short time period.
· The only negative I would suggest about the tour is the denseness and intensity of the daily programme. Sometimes we were programmed to run from 8am until 9pm with very rushed breaks/lunches. It is clear that some participants were exhausted and feeling ill due to the intensity of the schedule. We only had two days free the entire month; which did not allow us time to process what we had seen or learnt. A bit more free time would enable the participants to better digest what they are seeing and learning throughout the trip and allow them to benefit from the insights they are receiving.
· A further point I would like to suggest for forthcoming years is more flexibility for the internship programmes. Many of the students on the study tour had already completed their master's degree and were thus free to take part in the internship programme from October until December. However as a student beginning my master's degree I had an obligation to return to University and was not able to apply for the internship programme. Allowing more flexibility to when the internship can be completed would be of great benefit to students on the tour.
I would finally like to thank BACS for their support of the EU Canada study tour. As a student from the United Kingdom who has greatly benefited from this programme I understand and appreciate the generous support BACS provides.