IAPSS Brussels Study trip “The EU under threat?”

Five weeks (and a bit) ago I decided that I’d do something I wouldn’t normally do. I applied to go on a study trip to Brussels with the IAPSS. Throughout the whole process, I had in my head that it wouldn’t be offered to me. However, it was worth a shot anyway, to gain experience applying for programmes and jobs. So, I submitted my application before the deadline on January 30th.

The form required a few personal details. As well as my academic background, and why I would like to go on the study trip. I explained my eagerness to learn about EU institutions and the threats the EU faces from multiple angles. As well as including my interest in environmental/climate policy and the dangers a state leaving the EU would have on the potential for cooperation at National/European/International level. My Economics project that I worked on in my last module was submitted for their viewing..

Along came the 6th February and the email I totally wasn’t expecting.

Study trip acceptance email
Study trip acceptance email

I got on the programme! The European Union is of deep interest to me.

The IAPSS itself is a great international network for students of political science and international relations. It’s student led and works with key institutions. I can’t believe I missed out on being a member of this network for so long, then finding out about it just as I’m finishing my degree.

The range of talks next week take place in the European Commission, Council and the Parliament (if I’m on TV, I’ll give a wave).

I have an idea of a few issues that I’d like to get more clarification on as I participate.

A couple of questions, I’ve had pointed to me by others:

    1.) Is there a democratic deficit in the EU or is it a scare tactic touted by those who don’t know the difference between direct and indirect democracy?
    2.) Is there a potential for member states not to stick to free movement of people over the refugee crisis (although I think it’s a more schengen issue)

If anyone can think of more questions they would like me to answer or clarify please comment below or navigate to the contact area.

Apart from waiting with much anticipation for this study trip. I’ve been busy writing TMA 4 towards my module (DD313 – International Relations). Concerned with governance in the international system and whether it is a bottom-up or top-down process in a chose case study. I chose to specialise in international environment and climate governance, specifically the EU emissions trading scheme (yes, again! πŸ˜‰ ).

In conclusion, Through analysis it was shown that there is more prospect of bottom-up governance in the international system in liberal societies then in illiberal societies. As the 28 states in the EU are liberal (more or less) they all allow for bottom-up governance in regards to ETS governance. However, using states like Belarus as an example itself a signatory to the Kyoto protocol, would allow for less or no bottom-up governance in the name of networks. Belarus is a dictatorship and is more absolute in terms of international legal sovereignty and is more centrally controlled meaning governance is generally top-down.

I tried to (shorten) summarise my essay in 4 lines, in a readable format. Didn’t really think that was possible.

Below you’ll find some images I’ve taken over the past month. As I’ve been so incredibly busy and broke, I’ve not been able to go anywhere. Oh and don’t judge regarding the wine, every student needs a vice to pull through right? πŸ˜›

Images from the past month

Right now, I’m listening to Light It Up (feat. Nyla & Fuse ODG) – Remix on Spotify.
Have a peaceful end of the week readers.

I’ll try and blog post before I leave for Brussels on Tuesday.
If I don’t, you can follow my progress on Twitter (displayed on the top right) –>

Weeks 15-16, Top-down or bottom-up? & Governing weapons proliferation

I’ve been asked before just what the format and structure of study is like with the Open University. I’ve decided to create this post and make it (nearly) entirely Open University based. I’ve attached some images in the slide show below, and I hope that it assists with giving a picture of what I do (or should be doing every week πŸ™‚ ).

My study planner for this Week highlights that I should be at “Week 16 – Governing weapons proliferation“. Which I’ve just finished!

Each week usually has a chapter from the OU module materials, that must be read along with activities in the book and online. Further reading sources are provided every week, and it’s expected that 6 hours every week should be allocated to this. I also try to read a chapter from my outside text “The Globalization of World Politics“.

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I’ve tried to keep it relatively brief here. I could go on and on and make this essayish but I figure anyone interested would lose interest! Audio and video material is provided online nearly each week too. Attendance in face-to-face tutorials isn’t required but recommended. I think I’ve missed about one or two during my whole degree. As you progress to level 3. Tutorials are few and far between.

That’s it for now. I have a more exciting post coming up in the next few days, I’m still on a high from the news I received and can’t wait to share it with my readers. I can’t wait! Just am so excited πŸ™‚

As I was typing this I was listening to Loick Essien – Number One πŸ˜€

Have a good week all!

What I’ve been up to..

Studying French to C2 level.
Studying French to C2 level.

I’ve enrolled onto my French course for the summer. The aim is to learn French right up to C2 (Fluency). I’m excited, and start on the 8th June. So, next week! I’ll also be in Brussels in two weeks, so, a lot to look forward to.

Today, I also officially completed my project for DD309 with the Open University. I will be driving up to Milton Keynes to hand it in on Tuesday morning (tomorrow). It’s all been printed and bound, after a lot of blood, sweat and tears.. well not entirely true but almost! πŸ˜‰

I’ve enjoyed this module immensely my tutor has been great. Assisting me through Skype/Email and face to face at our session at the London School of Economics. The project involved huge amounts of research regarding Environmental Economics and Carbon Trading. I’ll never look at the European Emissions trading scheme in the same light again.

On the way, I learnt so many things about how the EU operates. From using their direct line service (for help on EU matters) and Email. All of which delivered exactly what I needed. I feel that like most things regarding governance most of the information and is there if you ask for it.

I’ve also become more aware of how deeply important the environment is to us as a public good. Not just due to climate change, but the air we breathe, the views we enjoy. The things we can’t make excludable and struggle to protect. In conclusion, I found the EU ETS did assist with reducing emissions but only by a marginal amount and it maybe a little too early to say we collected any meaningful data. As the ETS has only been running 10 years. Environmental policies tend to take many years and not show improvements in short or even the medium-run. Many weaknesses within the EU carbon trading system can be solved by EU policymakers (which I will reveal in another blog post when I have my results back πŸ˜‰ ).

It’s been incredible this module and I want to thank friends (some who are no longer with me), close family for the support. It’s been tricky at times to self-motivate myself. Many times I’d have a beer and watch question time doing little else. My degree is not over but it’s been an amazing journey so far and I feel everyone in my life is part of it. I’m so lucky to have you all. So, thank you!

My Pictures of the Month are below

Few notes: EMA stands for end of module assignment it’s basically my project for my Economics module. The intimate relations thing is an economic valuation I guess! How much time we spend and the net effect of those things, Got a few vanity shots… I don’t often go vain but I thought I’d go against the grain a little. And protect the NHS, our human rights might be disappearing but can we at least protect that? Too bad the tories got in.

My blog may be down at various points over the next month. It really needs an overhaul a nice new theme, it needs to be mobile/tablet friendly (hint, hint can anyone help in any way? πŸ™‚ ).

Also, I’m taking action to address why the blog is slow loading. The database has pretty big over the years. I know the comment feature is not working properly for all readers. I’m trying to fix that too.

Whilst reading I was listening to:

Danke, Merci, Thank you

Love being so busy!

Heavy reading? Aiming for 100% in everything :)
Heavy reading? Aiming for 100% in everything πŸ™‚

As I said in my previous post, I think I’d be more then a little busy this year this has turned out to be true.

I’ve bought two economics books as I really want too boost my grades in Economics. Andrew Gillispies book seems to be more lighter and suitable to introduce newbies into Economics.

Doing two modules at once with the open university was always gonna be tough. Economics much tougher then politics but on the whole both very engaging, interesting and applicable to the real world.

Today at work I had what I thought was the beginning of a good conversation going with a customer. She asked me what I was studying I told her PPE and she then asked what career options am I thinking of. I told her EU or civil service. She told me to keep quiet it’s a dirty word then told me how soldiers fought and died so dictators at the EU wouldn’t make laws for us and how the EU is undemocratic. I didn’t say this but was just thinking as she was mouthing off… The EU is an example of representative democracy. Like our nation is. It’s not a direct democracy. It has stayed true to its founding principles as laid down by Sir Winston Churchill and Robert Schuman amongst others. It’s by no means perfectly democratic but what institution is? We can act to improve it. She then started talking or should I say SHOUTING about Mr Farage and she wouldn’t stop. Rambling on about him being a man of the British people. Looking out for British workers. Much how a certain German politician promised to before the Second World War I guess. She sounded like she was brainwashed unfortunately considering I wasn’t answering her at this stage because she was so ill informed and seemed so ignorant to anybody else.

I couldn’t believe all that reaction came from my career path to be honest. It’s scary to think we have ignorant and the ill informed in the country who cannot even reason or disagree in a polite manner without raising their voices to be heard. If I had been a ex-soldier or if I said I wanted to join the army how would she have viewed me then? Presumably in a positive light despite the fact I may have ended the lives of people with a gun or maybe going on to. Really is this what has Britain come to? Hmmm. Something doesn’t sit right πŸ™

So as you can see politics comes up even without intention. Maybe more so because of my pathway. I’m finding I’ve learnt so much more though. When walking around shops or any public place my economics and politics knowledge seems to kick in! I read the economist and understand more and more week by week. It’s all very exciting πŸ™‚

My exams for economics are in June so a lot of prep ahead!

I went to Paris on March 25th. It’s a beautiful city but not as beautiful as Brussels! It was a rainy day but still it was nice to be away from London for a change. I can’t believe it being only a train ride away I never been. Take a look at the assortment of photos below.

It was lovely though, didn’t want to return home. Day trips do feel really long though. I’m planning to go racing again and go gym after I finish DD209 – Running the Economy. Then I can focus just on DD203 – Power, dissent, equality: understanding contemporary politics. Once DD203 finishes in September 2014, I will be moving on to DD309 – Doing economics: people, markets and policy this looks to be interesting.

I probably won’t post again till after the 6th June 2014. When I actually stop going full-time and go part-time with my studies again.

Till next time. See you πŸ™‚

University panic and decorating to do!

Bye bye damaged graphics card!
Bye bye damaged graphics card!

University panic and house decorating leaves mixedmatt flustered.

This week I had a huge panic. Created by a email received from the open university. Panic over now. Although I’m still praying the student loan company pay me for the second of the two modules ill be doing. Otherwise I’ll have to think of fundraising πŸ™‚

The decorators are in the house, doing the hall. Getting in the way! I’d just started sanding my room down. I will put it on pause until they’ve gone. The amount of dust in the house is horrible.

Unfortunately my graphics card also failed on Sunday. So, I’m writing from my iPad. I purchased my super duper pc from pc specialist last year in January. So haven’t had my build long. Lucky I still got manufacturer warranty on my GeForce GTX 570. I hate writing on my iPad so much. Difficult what?!

Well, my graphics card has been sent off now and I received an email today literally the day after sending it! Saying a replacement has been sent! Well done PC Specialist!!

My module materials for DD209 Running the Economy have been sent. They should arrive along with my graphics card tomorrow morning. Excited πŸ˜€

Of course I’ll take some snaps of the module materials!

Also next weekend is the final round of the Lotus cup go-karting championship that I am competing in. Can’t wait just want the last race to end on high.

Have a good weekend readers.

PPE: Getting stuck in!

Book I'm reading at the moment!
The book I'm reading at the moment!

I’ve been reading both my purchased book (Social Sciences: the big issues by Kath Woodward) and the preparation material by the open university. My study materials are due to be posted on January 6th. Not long! I feel its so soon so got to press on!

I’m really feeling confident and ready to start. I’m not 100% ready but will be once I get my desk set-up and my PC built. I been working for ages to get enough money, so nearly there. It’s likely that I’ll not get it built until I start unfortunately but I have access to the home PC.

The next few weeks will just be about preparation really and making sure I’m ready to go. I want to finish all my preparation texts that I didn’t read over Christmas and new year.

I also recently bought a book called the good essay guide. I want to skim read this if I can because its been years since I wrote a essay πŸ™

Hopefully my course materials are mailed tomorrow and I receive them not long after. I’m going into study mode now!