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European studies is a field of study that focuses on current ‎developments in European integration. Some universities offer a ‎social science or public administration curriculum focusing on ‎developments in the European Union. One of these prominent ‎universities in Palestine is An-Najah National University. European ‎Union studies has taken a new form of teaching by a leader professor ‎of An-Najah staff, Dr. Amjad Abu El-Ezz. ‎


By: Shatha Jararaa

Dr. Amjad Abu El-Ezz has been involved with international ‎development and politics both professionally on diplomatic and ‎journalistic level, and academically for the last decade. He holds a ‎PhD from Durham University and his area of expertise covers ‎European Union policy and examining how the EU develops its ‎foreign policy towards the Middle East and North Africa.‎

Dr. Abu El-Ezz teaches European studies at An-Najah University in ‎Palestine after spending 10 years in London, where he has completed ‎his PhD. Before joining An-Najah University, he worked for the ‎British American Security Information Council (BASIC) as an ‎international consultant and Gulf director. Between 2011 and 2013 he ‎worked for the United Arab Emirates embassy in London as a ‎researcher, political, educational and media analyst. He is also a ‎frequent commentator on BBC TV and Radio, Al-Jazeera and Al-‎Arabia TV.‎

Simulation School for European Studies course

As a political scientist, Dr. Abu El-Ezz contributed to the ‎development of the teaching-learning system in An-Najah. He initiated ‎a simulation school for his European studies students, which he calls ‎a "Three Dimensional Approach: Teaching, Training and Production". ‎When we interviewed Dr. Abu El-Ezz, he said: "I started to think ‎about how to enhance the students' knowledge about European ‎internal and foreign policies and how the west preview our cause in ‎the decision making process within the European Union." He ‎integrated an EU simulation program with the European Studies ‎course, which is part of the Political Sciences Department.‎

Dr. Amjad Abu El-Ezz has been involved with international ‎development and politics both professionally on diplomatic and ‎journalistic level, and academically for the last decade. He holds a ‎PhD from Durham University and his area of expertise covers ‎European Union policy and examining how the EU develops its ‎foreign policy towards the Middle East and North Africa.‎

Dr. Abu El-Ezz teaches European studies at An-Najah University in ‎Palestine after spending 10 years in London, where he has completed ‎his PhD. Before joining An-Najah University, he worked for the ‎British American Security Information Council (BASIC) as an ‎international consultant and Gulf director. Between 2011 and 2013 he ‎worked for the United Arab Emirates embassy in London as a ‎researcher, political, educational and media analyst. He is also a ‎frequent commentator on BBC TV and Radio, Al-Jazeera and Al-‎Arabia TV.‎

Mechanism

This new teaching method divides students into groups according to ‎the institutional set-up of the European Union. Students play the role ‎of the European Parliament, the European Council, the European ‎Commission and other bodies. The teacher gives the students a task, ‎and asks them to read about the responsibilities and aims of each ‎body so that they play their roles well. This method trains students to ‎perform the EU bodies' roles through producing statements and ‎policies. It is based on self-study mechanism, which means no ‎memorizing is required but practicing. For example, the teacher gives ‎a proposal about recognizing the Palestinian state within the EU ‎parliament. Students must know the process flow and the decision ‎making mechanism. They have to know who takes decision about ‎this. In this case, the EU Council. Students may also make decisions ‎related to domestic policy such as an agricultural proposal in one of ‎the EU countries.‎

Student reflection

Dr. Abu El-Ezz mentioned that the students loved this teaching ‎approach as it helped them absorb the curricula. The simulation is ‎done outside the classroom because they need space, and students ‎wear suits. This makes them happy and gives them self-confidence. ‎Some students play the role of journalists, or the Palestinian embassy ‎in a certain country.‎

Benefits

This approach increases awareness and knowledge of the EU policy ‎by practice as the simulation is done three times over the whole ‎semester. Each one of the students play a certain role either as ‎observer, participant, lobbying or judge. It does not only offer them ‎training, but also teachs them how to produce judgment and make ‎decisions. It's like obtaining firsthand experience. Students write ‎proposals in both English and Arabic. The course also invites ‎international volunteers to talk about the EU policy. They get ‎questions from the students and they debate with the students. ‎Moreover, the simulation enhances students' public relations, ‎communications and teamwork skills. In addition, students have the ‎opportunity to visit the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where ‎they meet with Amal Jadou, the Assistant Minister on European ‎Affairs and Head of the European Department to ask questions about ‎current political events.‎

Final remarks

Dr. Abu El-Ezz concluded: "I served many countries, but I got back to ‎Palestine to benefit my own people. My aspiration is to establish a ‎unit specialized in EU studies in Palestine."‎


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