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University of Trento Students consult the Archives

Posted on 05 January 2018

University of Trento students visited the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) on 21 November 2017 to consult documents as a part of an exchange programme with the institution.

The exchange is part of an intensive research course entitled ‘Going Global’, taught by Professor Sara Lorenzini, which focuses on foreign relations of the European Community and European Union with a particular focus on the 1970s. This year’s workshop was particularly successful as the students’ enthusiasm and the budget permitted the highest number of student, since the start of the 3-year project, to visit the archives in Florence for their research.

The interaction between the School of International Studies at the University of Trento and the Historical Archives is two-fold: Once a year, Dieter Schlenker, the Director of the Archives, visits the university to give a lecture on consulting archives for research into European Integration. Later in the year, the students visit the Archives to consult archival documents relevant to their field of research.

Prof Sara Lorenzini says: “The idea of teaching a course on the history of European integration was actually a strong motivation to socialize international students through the study of Europe and in promoting the idea of Europe.”

She adds that it was a huge success and she believes the students learned an important lesson about the European Union. “I think it is also very useful for them to understand that all this work cannot simply be thrown away because it implied a lot of resources and a lot of effort. This is something I am happy they really grasped from working here with the original documents,” she explains.

Angèle Scibilia, one of the students who attended the workshop at the Archives, says this experience gave her a different perspective on Europe. “In all my courses about the European Union and the European Community, I focused more on the institutions, the history of the institutions and the law instead of looking at the different mechanisms that were in place back then. It was a different way of approaching that kind of history,” she explains.

She also added that she was fascinated by the handwritten documents she found in the archives. “It was touching to see the notes about the banana and sugar protocols. You get the sense of being in touch with the first hand document.”

Dieter Schlenker, Director of the HAEU, says: “In addition to the preservation of our common European documentary heritage, the main mission of our Archives is to promote research into European integration using primary sources and it is exciting to pass to these young students a hands-on experience on how the European Union’s policies and law were negotiated and decided.”

After their visit to the Archives, the students will submit papers based on their research and present them in a graduate seminar. The final papers will be submitted as coursework. Finally after the three years, the best papers will be put online as an electronic publication.