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Lessons Learned from Europe Lift Rutgers Student to Victory

EuropeanStudiesDebate388X259With China’s emergence as an economic superpower, and the continuing upheaval in the Mideast, students of international affairs might be tempted to overlook the role of Europe in the world, and its strategic importance to the United States.

But Sivaram Cheruvu feels no such temptation. Last week, the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) junior won a prestigious national debate competition in Washington D.C. that focused exclusively on the relationship between Europe and the U.S.

Cheruvu, who grew up in Edison, competed in the Think Transatlantic National Finals – an event sponsored by the German Embassy to promote the U.S.-German diplomatic relationship and to encourage American students to study and discuss issues involving the U.S. and the European Union (EU).

Cheruvu’s winning performance included a five-minute response that explored areas in which the U.S. and Germany can learn from each other.

“I was so excited to do well on a national stage,” said Cheruvu, who is majoring in political science and history, and minoring in French and economics.

He was awarded a $4,000 travel voucher to visit Germany.

Cheruvu’s debating skills will be an asset in his chosen field: political consulting. The graduate of John P. Stevens High School already has a campaign under his belt – his friend Samip Joshi’s 2011 run for the Edison Township Council, in which the 22-year-old candidate and Rutgers alumnus challenged the town’s political establishment and lost by a few hundred votes.

“I really enjoyed managing a campaign,” Cheruvu said. “And it showed me that this is what I want to be involved in.”

The March 4 debate competition was held at American University, and served as a conclusion to last November’s Think Transatlantic Campus Weeks, during which 30 colleges and universities including Rutgers conducted programs focusing on the U.S. partnership with Germany, and, by extension, Europe.

Cheruvu, during his portion of the debate, declared that Germany could learn from the U.S. immigration policy, and that the U.S. could learn from the German government’s fiscal discipline.

Cheruvu has had a longtime interest in studying the EU, and is currently working on a research paper with Professor R. Daniel Kelemen, the director of the university’s Center for European Studies.

“One of the issues that drew me in was the concept of countries yielding their sovereignty to a larger body like the European Union,” he said. “That’s very fascinating and that hasn’t happened anywhere else quite like that.”

Although China may be the hot topic for headlines, the EU’s strategic importance to the U.S. is incalculable, and the study of EU politics and social policy is proving fertile ground for scholarship at Rutgers.

“In terms of trade and investment, the EU is our largest partner,” said Kelemen, holder of the Jean Monnet Chair in EU Politics.  “And beyond those issues, our strongest alliances are with NATO.”

The center oversees major and minor degree programs at Rutgers. And over the last several years, the center’s Lessons from Europe program has sponsored conferences, created a Signature Course, and brought visiting speakers to explore what the U.S. can learn from European democracies in addressing its 21st century policy challenges.

For more information on the Center for European Studies, visit the center’s website.



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