The 2014 laureate is Mr Steven Otterman from the University of Göttingen
This year the Coimbra Group received thirteen nominations for the Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students, involving thirteen Coimbra Group universities as either sending or hosting institutions. The selection committee established by the Executive Board consisted of Professors Jürgen Barkhoff from Trinity College Dublin (chair), Zeynep Cigdem Kayacan from Istanbul University and Joaquim Ramos de Carvalho from the University of Coimbra.
The selection committee for the 2014 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students is pleased unanimously to nominate Steven Otterman from the University of Göttingen (Germany) for this year’s award. Mr Otterman spent his Erasmus exchange during the summer semester 2012 at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) as part of his Erasmus Mundus Master of Arts in Euroculture.
Of all the nominees Steven Otterman made the most comprehensive and convincing case for the added value of the Erasmus experience. Steven Otterman demonstrates how specific courses which he took in Groningen, such as the ‘Eurocompetence II’ project management course or a module on ‘Theory and Methodology’ substantially influenced his approach to his Master’s thesis “Can the European Citizen’s Initiative address the European Union’s democratic deficit?”.
He also elaborates on the many beneficial dimensions of the Erasmus experience outside formal academic and classroom learning. He immersed himself fully in Dutch language and culture and, as a member of the Euroculture Curriculum Committee, was involved with organising academic and social events which brought him into contact with Dutch sponsors and cultural organisations. It is clear that he was very proactive in seeking out every opportunity for intercultural experience and learning, and that he made the most of what the Erasmus Mundus Euroculture programme had to offer. It is equally clear that this overall experience also had a profound influence on his research. Mr Otterman came to Groningen with a strong personal and academic interest in questions of European citizenship and identity, and the way his semester in Groningen strengthened this and influenced his master’s thesis impressed the committee.
While this was neither part of the criteria nor an element of the committee’s decision making, we are pleased to note that both the Euroculture Masters which brought the Laureate to Groningen and the topic of his master's dissertation, the strengthening of citizens’ political participation in and for Europe, is very much in line with the objectives of the Arenberg Foundation.
The Committee would like to congratulate Mr Otterman on this year’s Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize. We would further like to congratulate the other candidates for this year’s award, all of whom are excellent young international researchers in their fields, and worthy ambassadors of the Coimbra Group universities where they were awarded their degrees and undertook their exchange periods.
On 13 June at the 2014 General Assembly of the Coimbra Group at the University of Groningen, the Rector Elmer Sterken, on behalf of the Duke of Arenberg, presented Steven Otterman with the 2014 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students. Steven Otterman thanked the Arenberg Foundation and the Coimbra Group for selecting him as this year’s laureate:
"It is an honor to be named the recipient of the 2014 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Duke of Arenberg and the Arenberg Foundation for funding this prize, and others like it, and promoting cultural exchange in Europe. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the members of the prize selection committee for acknowledging my hard work and choosing me as this year’s laureate. In addition, I wish to thank the faculty and staff of the Euroculture departments at Göttingen and Groningen Universities, as well as the faculty and staff of the philosophy departments at Göttingen and Heidelberg Universities, who helped in the course of my MA studies. Lastly, I want to give special thanks to Inge Knudsen, Esther von Richthofen, and Katrin Fehl, for helping make my appearance here in Groningen possible. To live and study in Europe was a remarkable experience, and I am grateful to everyone who impacted it in a positive way! Thank you!"
Below you will find the message of congratulation that the Duke of Arenberg, who could not attend the 2014 General Assembly of the Coimbra Group due to previous engagements, sent to this year's laureate, Mr Steven Otterman:
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