The “Thinking Canada” programme offers students from European Union Member States a unique in-depth experience of Canada and of EU-Canada relations. This is achieved through an intensive four-week programme that begins in Brussels at the European Institutions and then moves to Canada, visiting Ottawa, Québec, Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. Selected students remain in Canada to undertake internships in different institutions.
“Thinking Canada” is a project of the European Network for Canadian Studies (ENCS), the umbrella group for all national and regional Canadian Studies associations in Europe. It was undertaken at the request of the European Commission, which also provides the bulk of the financial support; additional funding comes from the ENCS, its national/regional associations and the students themselves. Generous in-kind support also comes from federal, provincial and local authorities and non-governmental institutions in Canada, as well as the European Union Institutions. Further financial and in-kind contributions are provided by the Canada-Hungary Educational Foundation and some internship hosting institutions.
The first “Thinking Canada” study tour and internship programme took place in 2010, with 27 participants selected from around 200 applicants. Since then, the programme has grown steadily – this year saw well over 600 applications. Thirty-two students from twenty-four EU Member States were chosen to participate; nine of them stayed on in Canada to carry out two-month internships at leading Canadian think tanks and NGOs, a Canadian federal institution and other bodies, as well as the European Union Delegation in Ottawa and the Polish Consulate General in Toronto. The students came from all three levels of studies – Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral – and were selected with a view to their representing a very broad range of disciplines, from corporate finance to the study of languages.
Briefings in Brussels covered the main EU institutions. In Canada the students met with representatives of a wide variety of institutions at all three levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal), major non-governmental organizations and agencies, leading economic players, labour representatives, cultural institutions, think tanks and NGOs, as well as the European Union Delegation to Canada.
The EU-Canada tour originated as a counterpart to the already existing European Union Study Tour and Internship Program, now in its tenth year, which offers an annual programme of study visits and internships to the European Union Institutions for Canadian students. The programme in Europe served as a model in the planning of the European students’ programme in Canada. In fact the main organizer of this programme – the Network for European Studies (Canada), involving over a dozen universities across Canada – has played a central role in the EU-Canada tour as well. Both study tours, conceived as complementary, have received joint official endorsement from the European Union and Canadian authorities. Full information on the initiatives can be found at their respective websites, www.thinking-canada.eu and www.capilanou.ca/programs/europe.
In the three years that it has been running, the “Thinking Canada” programme has brought over ninety students from the European Union to Canada on the study tour; twenty of them have also undertaken internships. In agreement with the European Commission, the organizers are now beginning preparations for next year’s “Thinking Canada”, with the launching of the call for applications planned for March 2013.
written by: Don Sparling