Miami in the World: The Miami University Dolibois European Center

Image from MUDEC Memory Book, 1989 

(Image from MUDEC Memory Book, 1989. Miami University Havighurst Special Collections, Dolibois European Center, Box 6 (non-digitized, no URL)

“Miami in the World: The Miami University Dolibois European Center”

 Elena Jackson Albarran

Department of History



Miami launched its European Study Center in Luxembourg in 1968, an auspicious moment in global history, and a curious time to inaugurate a university course of study in the heart of western Europe. Since its inception, Miami University and its MUDEC satellite campus have expanded the university’s globalizing imprint, and it has given the thousands of students to pass through the program a privileged platform from which to experience, witness, or disregard major historical turning points. This project brings Miami students of history and prospective (or active) MUDEC student participants into contact with their historical peers—the Miami students that rode the trains, trekked the paths, braved Le Cave, and chilled in the château before them. The archive lends a sense of historicity to the not-so-distant but seemingly foreign modes of travel, political perspectives, available technologies, and international socialization that has happened over the course of MUDEC’s history. The materials and sample assignments compiled here are designed for use by two target groups of faculty: 1) Faculty with a MUDEC teaching assignment; or 2) Faculty teaching HST 296, World History since 1945. By placing Miami student interests in the context of global events, students should gain an appreciation and introspection about the meaning and impact of their own travel and position in their respective historical moment.

The archive is divided into a few repositories. Special Collections holds some boxes of memory books (handmade yearbooks or literary zines done by MUDEC cohorts): Hundredth Monkey  (no date, but early 1980s), Zaitgescht (1981-2), Passport (1982-3), no title (1984), The Finer Things (1986-7), Luxembourg (1989-1990), MUDEC (1989); a few editions of the weekly MUDEC news bulletin Diese Woche (This Week) (1984-1986); and some MUDEC-related clippings from Recensio (1978, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989); and some MUDEC-related clippings from The Miami Student (1975, 1976, 1984, 1986, 1988). I have several personally digitized documents that can be made available as PDF files directly on the Canvas site, most notably the inaugural address of the MUDEC (then MUEC) center by director Leslie S. Brady on October 31, 1968; a collection of student reflection essays from a MUDEC study trip to Russia in February 1980; and a 1970 exchange involving a widely-circulated student complaint about learning conditions in the program and the administrative response. By far the vaster and more valuable archive is housed in the château in Differdange, and comprises much of the paper archive of the center since its founding. Of particular interest are two boxes related to study tours taken from the 1970s through the early 2000s (after which most such records were kept digitally), and three boxes related to the reciprocal exchange of Luxembourgish students to Oxford (and other US cities) in a five-week program co-sponsored by Miami University and the Luxembourgish government from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. These include essays by Luxembourgish students documenting their detailed impressions of the United States at a critical moment in late-Cold War history. The paper archive also includes almost a complete uninterrupted run of the weekly Monday newsletter (which changes titles over the course of publication), and provides a rich description of daily academic and social life at MUDEC over several decades. There are also a few more editions of the student-made zines, some scrapbooks, and boxes of administrative paperwork.

There are lots of stories in the archive, and they range from the mundane bureaucracies of organizing student field trips to the heady details of fun and debauched student social gatherings outside (sometimes) of the classroom. As students in HST 296, a European-travel-focused version of the Miami Plan class World History since 1945, paged through MUDEC's own "dustbin of history," they began to notice some patterns, traditions, and omissions that resonated against their study of the events unfolding in the rest of the world during the long Cold War chronology. In particular, as many of the MUDEC students' peers were rioting against Vietnam and Western imperialism in Paris and Berlin and staging happenings in Amsterdam, the Miami students seemed to tuck their heads down and pursue the ascending business promise of internships with the nascent IBM. As the world's population grew browner, the MUDEC population grew whiter. Over time, the Farmer School of Business became the primary feeder of the MUDEC program, sending disproportionate numbers students to Luxembourg compared to any of the other colleges at Miami. These tacit observations reveal some longer institutional trends, and further use of the archive would make a fruitful contribution to how some of those historical patterns foretold the neoliberal state of the university in its present reality. 


Assignment Example

Faculty preparing to lead students to MUDEC or Miami faculty-led study abroad programs are encouraged to review this of sample assignment to brainstorm possible exercises for their own courses.                 

MUDEC Archive Dive (shorter form, appropriate for HST 296)

Select one document from the archive from the period 1968-1989 (the period that corresponds with the Cold War--you can extend to 1991 if you like). 

For this primary document analysis, please follow the following formula:

  1. Identify the source. Include as much of the information as can be known: date, author, type of document (receipt, letter, pamphlet, official decree, newsletter, etc.).
  2. Describe the contents. You may take direct quotes from the document, describe its format and content. Also, if relevant, include observations about the physical document itself. Are there insignia, illustrations, images, hand-written corrections or amendments, meaningful damage, or other meaningful content that is not described in the text alone?
  3. Analyze the contents. This is the fun work of "doing" history: reading between the lines and making meaning of the past. What features of the document reflect a past that is strikingly similar to, or different from, the present? What conclusions can you draw about social relations, political realities, generational differences, technological differences, societal values, intercultural connections, or historical events from a close, critical reading of the document? What might have seemed normal to the authors/creators of the document that seems foreign to us now? 
  4. Evaluation and reflection. This is the part of the analysis that allows you to bring the document into the larger context of history. How does this reflect a particular historical moment? It's a good idea here to bring in specific references to our course readings and class discussions to contextualize these documents in the moments in which they were created. 
  5. Image. Please include an upload of an image of the original document. 
  6. Feel free to conclude with a personal reflection on how a close reading of this document enhances your appreciation of MUDEC life, the past, and/or the present.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe how Miami students have grappled with complex questions from multiple points of view
  • Develop sense of historicity through exposure to the experiences and perspectives of historical peers
  • Identify and Interpret a primary source to understand another person’s perspective
  • Reflect on Miami’s imprint on the world, and the world’s imprint on traveling Miami students