About the content
This free online course explains what Europe is, not as a geographically demarcated territory, but as a cultural and political product.
Explore European culture and politics – and today’s key challenges
The course is a collaborative work of a multidisciplinary team from the University of Groningen, in partnership with the Universities of Göttingen, Krakow and Uppsala. We will revisit and tackle the perceived “truths” about the meaning of European identity and Europeanness. We will examine the ways in which cultural knowledge and facts were constructed to further integration processes in post-World War II Europe.
You will analyse and explain the intertwined relationship between culture and politics in constructing and governing contemporary Europe. You will gain deep understanding of how struggles over the meaning of Europe have shaped European contemporary society and how they will shape Europe’s future. We will help you understand and identify the complexities of the contemporary crises of European integration and support you in developing novel responses to these crises.
In the first week, you will examine Europe as a cultural project. You will learn how European culture is imagined and constructed by European institutions via the EU’s language policy or the Capital of Culture programme, but also how these top-down interventions into the meaning of Europe are challenged by local/grass-root cultural practices and interventions.
In the second week, you will look at the role religion plays in European politics and societies. You will revisit the role of religion in European public spheres and you will critically examine secularisation and the idea of a secular Europe.You will see if Europe can be identified through a particular religion (or absence of religion). And you will see how religion has been used to identify what is Europe and what is not Europe
The third week considers Europe’s relationship with modernity. Europe is often held as a standard: it is where modern science developed, where modern political systems came into being and where modern literary genres were invented. You will look at the assumptions behind and implications of this idea of modernity.
In the fourth week, we turn to the nation-state. Although the EU is often said to be the anti-thesis of the nation-state, some have argued that it has actually saved it. You will examine the EU as an unique experiment in the creation of a post-national political entity. You will also be asked to rethink the existing forms of political organisation in Europe and propose sustainable solutions for problems linked to integration beyond the nation state.
The fifth week examines how Europe is constructed as a democratic space. You will see how European political integration has been furthered and legitimised through a particular reading of democracy. Focus is placed on challenges and possible solutions to the construction of democracy in a post-national society.
In the sixth week you will examine how European identity is constructed via practices of othering; claims of what Europe is not. By addressing the question of Europe’s other we will not only gain a better perspective on how Europe is imagined but also whose voices remain silent/marginalised in this process. If we want to build a more inclusive Europe – and we do – critical questions of who is Europe’s other and how is Europe imagined by this other – need to be addressed.
Lecturer and researcher in European Studies at the University of Groningen.
The University of Groningen (abbreviated as UG; Dutch: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, abbreviated as RUG) is a public research university in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1614 and is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands as well as one of its largest. Since its inception more than 200,000 students have graduated. It is a member of the distinguished international Coimbra Group of European universities.
In April 2013, according to the results of the International Student Barometer, the University of Groningen, for the third time in a row, has been voted the best University of the Netherlands. In 2014 the university celebrated its 400th anniversary.
The University of Groningen has ten faculties, nine graduate schools, 27 research centres and institutes, and more than 175 degree programmes.
FutureLearn is a massive open online course (MOOC) learning platform founded in December 2012.
It is a company launched and wholly owned by The Open University in Milton Keynes, England. It is the first UK-led massive open online course learning platform, and as of March 2015 included 54 UK and international University partners and unlike similar platforms includes four non-university partners: the British Museum, the British Council, the British Library and the National Film and Television School.