by Cristy Lytal
More than a dozen undergraduate and graduate students from USC and other universities embarked on the “USC Price on the Rhine” program. During the month-long program, the students lived side-by-side with European students at Speyer University, studying comparative public administration and policy with a focus on the United States, Germany and the European Union (EU).
“This year was probably the best yet,” said Assistant Professor William Resh, who directs the program. “The students were very informed generally about current issues within Europe. They were especially interested in the refugee crisis within Europe. Also, the timing of being there before the vote for Brexit was amazing.”
As part of their immersive learning experience, the students enjoyed excursions to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France; several EU institutions in Brussels, Belgium; the historic city of Heidelberg, Germany; and the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. Next year, the program will expand to include a three-day visit to Los Angeles’ sister city of Berlin, where students will explore the legislature and key departments and agencies.
Students also attended seminars by Resh and professors from Speyer University about comparative public administration, comparative constitutional law, European economic integration, EU policy and institutions, and a case study on the EU and its neighbors. Each undergraduate wrote one seminar paper, and each graduate student wrote two seminar papers.
Special guest speaker Colin Barrow, former leader of the Westminster City Council, discussed the prospect of Brexit. He also participated in a roundtable discussion with Hansjörg Eger, who is the mayor of Speyer, and Frank Zerunyan, USC Price professor who is the former mayor of the Rolling Hills Estates.
MPA student Esther Yang, an extern in the Los Angeles Superior Court, said that “after this program, I don’t feel like things going on outside of my local municipality bubble or outside of my national bubble are necessarily someone else’s business — it’s all of our business, it’s all of our responsibilities.”
“There are things that we could tackle and solve today, in our very interwoven world, if we would think about these public administration and social issues together,” she added. “That’s my biggest takeaway from this program.”
Yang also noted that the learning extended well beyond the classroom.
“I was rooming with a German law student, and I was doing a research paper on the Syrian refugees, which for her, it’s a firsthand experience,” Yang said. “The personal interactions with people from Germany and across Europe made me realize everyone’s in it together, and we need to see it from a wider perspective.”