Teaching Europe in the Birth Place of the European Union: An Interview with Patrick Bijsmans

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Patrick Bijsmans is a political scientist whose scholarship is mainly concerned with Euroskepticism, a research focus that can seem ironic in a place like Maastricht, where such attitude towards Europe is not expected. Indeed, as the cradle of the European Union, its foundational moment, and its point of origin and conceptual epicenter, the Dutch city of Maastricht readily features in every European’s self-imagination. Patrick Bijsmans engages here with this healthy tension between his research and his multi-faceted teaching activities at Maastricht University in European Studies. He constitutes the perfect illustration of the variety of roles that scholars can craft for themselves in the academe. The ways in which he describes his unwillingness to make exclusionary choices between research and teaching will undoubtedly inspire recent PhDs who find themselves pulled in both directions and might feel pressured to follow one particular path over the other. In fact, he shows that, in the right institutional context, one can do both, and be successful and, most importantly, be fulfilled―if and when the organizational structural framework is supportive of the dual endeavor, enabling and even valuing such a bifurcation.

In this interview, Patrick Bijsmans shares his trajectory and introspection about the kind of academic he wants to be, his involvement with teaching and learning, not only as he instructs students at Maastricht University where the problem-based approach is widely privileged in the classroom, but also as he trains the faculty to be better teachers in tune with the latest pedagogical research and educational methodological innovations. All throughout our conversation, what clearly emerged was his enthusiasm for student learning and well-being, his empathy for both teachers and learners, and his dedication to creating bridges between research and pedagogies to enrich and push forward the field of European Studies. In particular, his reflection on adapting to the recent “crises” Europe and the world have faced, from the COVID-19 induced transition to the virtual university to wider societal debates such as Black Lives Matter, deepens the discussion on the state of European Studies and the future of Europe in general.

Period10 Nov 2020

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  • European Studies
  • Problem-based learning
  • Teaching and learning
  • Career development