The field trip enabled students to meet politicians, scholars and policy-makers with different political, economic and social perspectives as well as having a direct and personal experience of the city. The students were able to really get a sense of how Catalan society is responding to the latest political developments by experiencing the buzz and conversation of a highly politicized city and a highly engaged citizenry. Through listening to and appreciating (without prejudice) all the different perspectives - the ideas, the visions, the opinions and the experiences - students were able to gain a nuanced understanding of the debate on whether Catalonia should become an independent state or not - and the ramifications of that decision not just for Spain and Catalonia but for the whole of the EU.
The student experience by Beatrice Quarella (International Relations and Global Politics student assistant)
The very first day, we visited the Catalan Parliament where we had the chance to talk to two MPs from different political parties with opposed positions as to whether or not Catalonia should be an independent state: Francesc de Dalmases i Thió illustrated the positions of the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya platform. Susana Beltrán García (Ciudadanos political party) explained why her party supports the union of Catalonia with Spain. The first meetings exposed students to the current political debate and gave them some first-hand experience on political parties and their narratives.
The second day, the students met with professors from the most important universities in Barcelona. They presented different facets of the issue. Each professor provided different analyses and evidence to support their arguments. Professor Joan Botella Corral from the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona provided a detailed overview of the Catalan party system.
Professor Marc Sanjaume-Calvet from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra offered a nuanced historical and politological perspective on the development of the independentist movement.
Professor Juanjo Romero Martín from Universitat de Barcelona spoke about the sociological dimension of the Catalan independentist movement.
Finally, Jordi Sellarés Serras (Secretary General of the Comité Español de la Cámara de Comercio Internacional and Professor of International Law at the Universidad de Barcelona), elaborated on the legal implications of the issue offering his personal views and experience.
The last day students met with Mr. Eduardo Bolaños, Member of the Barcelona City Council and representative of Societat Civil Catalana, who offered yet a different outlook on the Catalan issue against the independence position.
A gallery of images from the trip - use the left and right arrows to view.