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Why Study Europe?

What countries or world regions are most important to the US, and Americans’ daily lives? China? The Middle East? Those places are very important — but consider the case for Europe. Its historical importance is hard to miss: it is the source of many — arguably most — of the ideas that have shaped the United States and our world; the nation-state, capitalism, industrialization, democracy, not to mention the printing press, the railroad, and the fundamental laws of physics. In our contemporary era when China or anti-Western terrorism dominate the headlines, though, it may surprise you to realize how central Europe remains to many processes that touch your life.

Europe is our most important economic partner, by far.

The US-Europe economic relationship is larger and deeper than any other in the world. In 2008, US foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Netherlands alone — a country of 16 million people –was just shy of ten times as large as US FDI in mainland China. We send a large majority of our FDI to Europe, and Europeans send 71% of their external FDI to the US. Though we trade a bit more with Asia now than with Europe, investment relationships involve much more money than trade, and reach most deeply into our economies. [For these and other figures, see US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis: and the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University:

As the Johns Hopkins report shows, in 2007, Oregon received $2.5 billion in European investment, and sent roughly the same amount of exports to European markets (with the largest exports in information technology). European investments directly supported 23,600 jobs in Oregon, with many more indirect effects.

Learning about Europe — and learning a European language in particular — can help position you to tap into this relationship: the largest stream of wealth generation in the world.

Europe is our closest partner and ally, and will remain so through the 21st century.

Whether through NATO, in global negotiations over economic relations or the environment, or in almost any other world forum, the US and Europeans work side by side, often in very influential ways. We share similar systems of government, similar values, a long cooperative past, and a dense network of international institutions. Europe is far and away the largest donor of foreign aid to poorer countries as well, so it is central to our interaction with the developing world too.

For you, this web of relationships means incredibly rich opportunities for study and career choices. Whether in government, non-government organizations, business, journalism, law, or other fields, you’ll find a larger set of possibilities in the US-European relationship than any other.

Europe offers the widest opportunities for international connections here at the UO. As you might expect, given US-European political, economic, and cultural connections, more than half of UO students who study abroad do so in Europe. It is among the top destinations for international internships as well. We teach ten European languages at the UO (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian) and have three others available for self-study (Catalan, Greek, Turkish).

To pursue these opportunities, visit our requirements page