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Unifying Europe

Zachary Ginsburg will study Polish national identity and the European Union.

The future of the European Union could well be decided in Poland, the largest and most influential member nation outside of Western Europe.

Zachary Ginsburg '10 will be joining an international team of researchers studying how Polish political and social culture may impact the EU's efforts to integrate its members into a common set of foreign and security policies.

The double major in International Relations and Political Science has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research at the Centre for European Studies (CES), which is located at Jagiellonian University. The university, Poland's oldest institution of higher education, is located in Krakow.

Ginsburg plans to investigate how Polish citizens' strong national identity shapes the country's participation in collaborative EU foreign and security affairs.

"Many of [Poland's] citizens have not seen fit to embrace the new European idea of collective governance instead of national sovereignty," he says. "This is because they see themselves as Poles first and Europeans second."

CES researchers have been affiliated with planning efforts funded by the EU and the center is home to a trove of proprietary survey data on the attitudes of the Polish public that Ginsburg will be able to use in his project, he says.

The award furthers Ginsburg's scholarly efforts in international relations. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and a magna cum laude graduate of Wheaton, Ginsburg won the college's Daniel K. Lewin Prize in Political Science and the Ruth Redding Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship, helping him to earn a master's degree in International Relations from the Department of War Studies, King's College, London. He graduated from King's in January 2012 with a Distinction, the highest grade in UK master's programs. He credits Wheaton for his first exposure to the field.

"But for my Wheaton experience, it's unlikely that I would have pursued an MA in International Relations," Ginsburg says. "There were many, many instances in grad school when I referred to class notes, papers, handouts, or other course materials from my Wheaton classes. More importantly, many of the ideas in my proposal and my Master's thesis were ones I began to develop in Wheaton Political Science and International Relations courses."

The Alexandria, Va., native says he learned many other valuable lessons at Wheaton, from serving as treasurer of the Student Government Association to taking courses across the liberal arts curriculum. In earning his master's degree, Ginsburg says he also has drawn on what he learned in Wheaton courses on ancient Greece, judicial philosophy, the French language and many other topics. "I’m delighted at how many of my Wheaton courses have informed my more recent work."

At present, Ginsburg is working as a staff associate for the Strategic Policy Partnership, a consulting firm that specializes in public safety management, law enforcement and homeland security. "It’s a terrific job and organization, and I’m delighted that our chairman is allowing me a leave of absence while I pursue the Fulbright," he says.

In his spare time, Ginsburg enjoys playing the bass, and he played in a variety of ensembles at Wheaton, King's and Oxford University, where he studied abroad. He looks forward to exploring Polish culture during his studies at CES.

"Poland isn't interesting merely because it might redefine notions of sovereignty or shape the future of Europe," Ginsburg says. "It also has rich cultural and intellectual traditions. Jagiellonian's most famous former student is Copernicus."