Lecturing Team: Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, Luke John Davies
The Aston EuroSim Module has two main aims:
- Provide students with negotiation and rhetorical skills, as well as in-depth knowledge of the functioning of European Union (EU) institutions. It does so through the usage of negotiation simulations, based on the development of a unique community of learning (this module mixes final year undergraduate students and MA students) and a professionalising ‘learning by doing’ approach;
- Select and train students to take part in the largest and longest running EU negotiation simulation in the world, which is also called EuroSim. The latter has gathered annually, for the past 30 years, 250 students from 22 universities in Europe and in the US. As the only UK participant team in this highly competitive event, Aston University selects the 10 best students in the module to represent the country by providing them with its best expertise in negotiation, diplomacy and European affairs. As a result, students undergo a transformative experience enabling them to improve their self-esteem, social abilities and professional skills.
The teaching approach at the basis of EuroSim: EuroSim distances itself from traditional teaching and learning methods and proposes a ‘learning by doing’ approach based on negotiation simulations. Instead of simply reading about negotiation skills, students develop and implement them in a specific negotiation scenario. This ‘learning by doing’ approach is based on the growing academic literature about the effectiveness of simulations in conveying complex knowledge thanks to its problem- based perspective. The same skills are still provided, but the role-playing element leads to the emergence of a new community of learning: the learning environment is entirely based on real life situations and documents, which promotes a more professionalising environment, as well as greater student involvement. The simulations are also recorded on video to allow students to learn from reviewing their performance. The learning strategy is complemented by high levels of student engagement through social media. The lecturers encouraged students to establish a Facebook page, as well as a Twitter account, which are used as part of communication and negotiation strategies.
Why fund the Aston EuroSim Module at a time when the UK’s relation with the EU is changing? Following the triggering of Art. 50, which officially kick-starts the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the UK has embarked on a complex and possibly long negotiation process to establish the basis for its future relation with the EU. Given the EU’s weight as a trade block and its geographical proximity, it is likely that the UK Government and UK- based companies will want to maintain an important level of exchanges with it. In order to do so, the UK will need a very large number of EU trained negotiators, working in the context of the civil service and of companies, who will be able to shape the new relation and ensure that national economic, political, cultural and social interests are safeguarded.
Aston University hopes to take its team for every upcoming EuroSim simulation. Till date, we are the only British team participating in the event and hope to shine during upcoming conferences which will gather students from over 22 universities across Europe and the United States.
Every year, 220 students takes part in the European negotiation simulation, which has been running for 32 years. At Aston, we are very excited to be part of this incredibly enriching experience. We were given a chance to first participate in 2016 simulation, when 9 of our students went to Antwerp to negotiate EU regulation on Asylum Seekers. Since then, every subsequent Aston EuroSim cohort has come back with awards and international recognition.
Given Aston University’s strong support for widening participation in Higher Education, we are striving to ensure our best students can take part in opportunities such as EuroSim. An important part of this effort is related to attracting the necessary funding to cover the travel and accommodation of students taking part in the international simulation.
We want Aston University students to go again and we need your help to make it happen! If you want to help, please visit our JustGiving page to make a donation.
Clément Harmégnies, MA Europe & the World
As a master’s degree student, Eurosim offered me a unique opportunity to develop practical skills. Through a learning-doing approach, it encompasses theories of negotiation, European policy-making and interpersonal relations within a professional framework. In that perspective, simulation sessions and training were particularly useful in developing oral skills and mastering the decision-making process. During the final session in Brussels, both the experience and knowledge we acquired benefit the negotiations. Nonetheless, we also learn to evolve within a social context, meaning the negotiations are always an ongoing process and, therefore, we must be prepared to face any last-minute change or a possible turn of events. This makes the overall simulation highly dynamic. Eurosim definitely empowered both my personal and academic skills and helped me in building selfconfidence and assertiveness towards approaching others.
Lena Girard, International Relations
Eurosim is the most challenging module I have taken during my university degree, both undergraduate and postgraduate studies combined. As an international student, it helped me improve my confidence debating in English through exercising public speaking aptitudes. It also made me discover more about the European Union, and helped me confirm my professional project. The negotiation and communication skills we developed over the past semester are a considerable value for our professional as well as personal future life. Having the chance to go to the final simulation in the United States of America is an amazing opportunity. We had the chance to prepare the simulation in a relatively small group of ten students. It gave everybody the possibility to get involved during the negotiations. We all managed to find our place within this class, so the larger group we take, the more complete our overall experience will be.
Charles Brewer, Politics and International Relations
Eurosim presents an opportunity to learn by doing, an opportunity which is by no means prevalent in other Politics or International
Relations modules. The unique nature of the module and the ability to put learning into practice with other students at an organised
event is ground breaking. Eurosim provides students with skills that can't be easily learnt through conventional methods of university
lecturing such as active listening, diplomacy and thinking on your feet in pressurised situations. Moreover, it is a chance to develop
skills which have genuine tangible benefits not just in future jobs but also in day to day life. The more students who are able to
attend this learning experience the better.
Daniel J Devane, Politics and International Relations
Eurosim provided me with a range of opportunities to learn about and interact with other cultures. It provided a helpful insight into how the European Union works and into the process of negotiation. The module also helped to build one’s confidence and public speaking abilities, and has proved to be a helpful experience on my CV, with multiple potential employers asking questions about the experience. Eurosim was my favourite module of my entire degree, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone!
Janina Lang, MA Global Governance and International Relations (now working as a research fellow and PhD candidate, Otto-Friedrich Universität Bamberg)
In the winter term 2016/2017 I participated in the Aston EuroSim Module, which was not only a great experience but also helped me immensely with my aim of entering the academic work life. Without a doubt, I have learned a lot about the European Union, the corresponding institutions, and the respective internal decision-making processes. While this knowledge was essential for my second Master’s degree, the other soft skills, such as public speaking, negotiation methods, and the proper use of body language in discussions, helped me obtain a PhD position which started only three days after the Aston graduation. I had taken classes with my current supervisor and as she liked my way of presenting arguments and how I engaged in discussions, she offered me a fully funded position as doctoral fellow at the University of Bamberg. I am confident, that my experiences form EuroSim contributed greatly to this offer, as beforehand I was rather uncomfortable speaking English in front of a big crowd and certainly did not know how to properly conduct academic/ professional discussions in a foreign language. Therefore, I highly recommend the module to any new student and I am more than happy to have participated myself.
Mathilde Blanchard, MA Europe & the World (now working as External Relations Officer at Engie, Paris)
Firstly, as EuroSim consists in simulating European negotiations, it allows us to better understand the decision-making process within the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. Since a lot of our policies are impacted today by the decisions taken at the European level, employers are looking for students familiar with this institutional framework.
Secondly, it helps us to develop lobbying and advocacy capacities. We had different exercises such as writing a position and strategy paper at home as well as delivering a small speech at the beginning of the simulation. In some interviews, employers asked me about my capacity to deliver a clear and strong message on various topics. Without EuroSim, I would not have been able to get the attention of the employer and get the position.
Thirdly, the final simulation is a competition between different American and European universities. Such an experience is extremely valued on a CV, especially when applying for international jobs requiring the ability to deal with a multicultural environment. Next January, I will start an internship at ENGIE headquarters in La Défense, in Paris, within the advocacy section. I know I have been well prepared for it thanks to EuroSim.
Caiden Heaphy, MA International Relations and Global Governance (now a Doctoral Candidate, Department for International and European Politics, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Germany)
What began as an extracurricular activity alongside my master’s program quickly became one of the most helpful as well as one of my most appreciated experiences during my time at Aston. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to negotiate specific policy issues, like energy security, which were actively evolving in real-time across European institutions. During our weekly module, we developed practical skills including reading legal texts, writing briefing papers, public speaking, and of course, negotiating policy details from a myriad of ideological and institutional perspectives. These skills continue to enable me to think more comprehensively about foreign policy and decision-making in my doctoral research. In fact, I believe that access to programs like EuroSim can be beneficial for students at any level of education, regardless of whether their studies are directly related to political science, because the skills and knowledge that are gained are not specific to any particular career or field of research, and they enable us to be more conscientious citizens in general.
Marion Greziller, Double MA Europe and the World (now a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Manchester)
EUROSIM is a well-rounded module, which is now very useful in my PhD, particularly in conferences. It taught me to do effective and concise research and build a solid argument in a short timeframe. Through the module, I also gained confidence in my public speaking skills and my ability to defend an argument.
Contact: Dr Patrycja Rozbicka