2016 High School Essay contest: ‘The European Union and Internationalism’
The European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Alberta invites essays on the theme of ‘The European Union and internationalism’. Students are welcome to write on any aspect of EU and policy. How has the creation of the European Union allowed Europe to curb nationalism solve policy problems? What are the trade-offs? Students are also welcome to draw comparisons to Canada. The contest is open to students in grade 10, 11 and 12 in Alberta high schools.
2016 essay contest winners about the contest
Rowan Ley, Strathcona High School, Edmonton
“I'm always happiest when I have something keeping me busy, so around my school I would always keep an eye out for interesting opportunities. One of the posters that caught my eye this year was the advertisement for the EUCE essay contest. I've always enjoyed writing and had an interest in politics and history, so I decided to enter the competition as an interesting challenge and an opportunity to push myself to learn more. The subject was particularly important to me as I'm planning on majoring in political science at the University of Alberta next year, and hope to have a career that takes me around the world working on the issues affecting us all. It's never a bad time to get a head start by learning more about politics and economics around the world, and the essay contest was a perfect opportunity to do just that. I learned a lot writing my essay, and I'm sure my success in the competition will be an impressive addition to my resume.
My choice of subject came in a rather roundabout way; I had done a research essay the year before on the economics of solar power and had noticed that Europe was a leader in the field. I realized that much of that success was due to the E.U.'s common market for goods and services, and that the same trend existed across many clean energy industries. Thinking about this reminded me that energy has been a contributing factor in so many conflicts over history; I wondered if by connecting their energy markets, European countries could be encouraging cooperation over competition in developing countries' energy industries. This would remove a cause of tension between European nations, helping to limit the levels of nationalism and potential for war on the continent. I realized that the nuts and bolts of energy policy, so often ignored by the public, were valuable factors in keeping Europe and the world safe, and fighting climate change which can harm us all. I essentially ended up writing my essay as a salute to the European policies that work every day to harness the power of the free market to make the world a better place, and don't get the credit they deserve”.
Alison Balding, Strathcona High School, Edmonton
“I was originally introduced to the European Union in my Grade 11 Social Studies class where we explored various aspects of internationalism. In this class we touched on different international organizations such as the European Union and the global roles that they play. I became very intrigued by this topic, and came across the EUCE website where I noticed the EUCE High School Essay Contest. With inspiration from my teacher, I decided to expand my knowledge on the EU.
In my essay I took a position on the extent to which international organizations should be pursued. I first touched on the economic prosperity brought about by the EU and speculated that Brexit, which had not yet taken place at the time, would have detrimental effects on Britain's economy. I also mentioned the important role that the EU plays in maintaining global peace by creating a sense of interdependence among member-states. Lastly, I discussed different aspects of the EU’s open border and free trade policies. Overall, I argued that the EU, along with its significant contributions to the economy, and sustainment of peace throughout Europe, should be pursued.
This essay competition allowed me to see the significance of having various member-states work together within the EU. I personally believe now more than ever that it is crucial to maintain international organizations such as the EU, since ultra-nationalism currently appears to be a growing force. This is made clear through the current immigration issues occurring in Europe and the rise of far-right political parties in many European states. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to take part in this competition and to expand my knowledge on the EU”.
2015 essay contest winners about the contest
Genevieve Kilburn-Smith, Bishop Grandin High School, Calgary
“When I was looking up potential universities, I came across the EUCE website and saw an advertisement for the essay contest being offered. I’m fond of writing and really enjoyed my Social Studies class at school so I decided to enter despite being unfamiliar with the intricacies of the European Union. It proved to be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of EU affairs beyond the confines of the school curriculum, especially since I’m considering going into journalism or something to do with International Relations. It’s difficult to ignore the importance of international organizations like the EU in today’s world since modern issues, such as global warming and the refugee crisis, cannot be resolved without the concerted effort of member states.
Originally, I was going to write about migration in Europe but as I researched further issues facing the EU, I was even more intrigued by the effects of corporate lobbying. With environmental issues becoming increasingly paramount, I was fascinated to learn just how much weight big businesses still carry in the EU even when they are establishing environmental policies. Corporations impede the creation of ambitious, yet feasible, environmental goals because such policies could have repercussions for their businesses. While it may not be surprising since they are merely defending their interests, I personally find it shocking that people continue to ignore the consequences of treating the environment so poorly in favour of short-term economic gains. Of course, this is not an issue solely facing Europe but the wider world as well, including Canada. Ironically, even though the environmental crisis has been exacerbated because of how convenient internationalism is for corporations due to economic integration, internationalism is also the key to solving these issues. While there is no clear answer to these problems, the best way forward is to have countries working collaboratively when drafting solutions. It will be interesting to see where international organizations take us in the future.
I am truly grateful for this opportunity and being more informed about the EU than I was before. On top of that, I recently won a full scholarship to Cambridge University, and I think winning the essay contest last year was a huge help with my application!"
Steven Phan, Old Scona High School, Edmonton
"I haven’t really started searching for scholarships until the beginning of my Grade 11 year. Once I started, I consulted my school daily bulletin but all the scholarships there were not compatible with my current conditions; it required me to be a member of certain organizations or to do something outside of my capabilities. Then during the later portion of Grade 11 in my Social 20-1 class I was introduced to the organizations formed in the aftermath of World War II. One of them: the EU which sought to reduce the nationalistic tensions that were a prime factor in both of the wars. It was fascinating that the EU was able to maintain this daunting task that even the League of Nations couldn’t maintain. After the concluding the lesson of the EU in class, the essay contest coincidentally appeared on the school bulletin. With both inspiration from my teacher and fresh knowledge of the EU I decided to tackle this EU essay contest. In the essay I decided to brief about the various factors that sparked the wars and the several countermeasures placed against its re-ignition. The League of Nations gave a monumental effort but, in the end, failed to contain nationalism and another Great War ensued. Then I discussed several features of the EU: such as the monetary union, EURO and concluded with the EU’s active participation in the world today; its peacekeeping involvement and continuing efforts to reduce nationalism. Altogether I just wanted to acknowledge the EU’s continued efforts and in the essay that’s exactly what I did."