Looking beyond the headlines
There has never been a more interesting time to study Europe, agree programme coordinators Derek Hutcheson and Inge Eriksson.
They have devised and developed the new bachelor’s degree, giving the subject historical context, and political relevance to arm graduates with deep-rooted knowledge that will help them understand future European challenges.
“Never a day goes by when you don’t switch on the television and see something which in some way impacts on or has been impacted by the EU,” said Derek.
Looking beyond the headlines
“The key point is that students will learn to look beyond the headlines and day to day events, and start to interconnect causal links between one event and another. These events might appear different on the surface, but once you look at the chain of events which led to each of them, you can start to understand what the connections are,” he added.
The programme combines different disciplinary approaches to give students a broad understanding of European culture, history and identity.
The benefits of historical context
“If you do not understand the past and the power of political memory, then you will get lost in the conflict line. The programme gives students tools to act within institutions, because politics is connected to memory, to different backgrounds and different political cultures.
“Sometimes there is a focus only on the formalities of institutions, but in negotiations, for example, you need to have an understanding of other aspects of whom you are negotiating with,” said Inge.
Derek concentrates on the political science elements of the programme, whereas Inge tackles Europe’s historical context.
"At times it is necessary to go back as far as the mid-17th Century and the Westphalian period, which saw the formation of nation states and the change from fragmented sovereignty to a modern concept of sovereignty. This gives a better understanding of what is going on in Europe today," explained Inge.
“All these things fit together; you cannot understand what is unique about the EU until you can understand that up until 70 years ago, European states frequently went to war which eachother, and the EU’s ancestors — the European Coal and Steel Community and European Economic Community — were major attempts to pool sovereignty together and build institutions above the level of individual states,” said Derek.
As political and trade borders have become increasingly blurred, one focus of the programme is on the Öresund Region, which effectively demonstrates how an economic hub can be created between two countries.
The ever-changing Europe
“In the Europe of the past, there were boundaries, borders, and passport controls. Over time, it has become easier to move across the continent and at the same time there are different links over borders. This region is a good example; you have Sweden and Denmark and an infrastructure — the bridge — linking the two together. So increasingly, the state boundary between Denmark and Sweden is not a factor, but what is important is that there are common economic and cultural interests on each side of the water. And across Europe you can see similar things happening,” said Derek.
“For the study of regionalisation, we are perfectly situated to use this example as a case study. As well as our location in the region, we also have great academic links to regional and local government and other organisations,” added Inge.