North and South, East and West: Open Online Course of European Integration
Cohesion is defined as the action or fact of forming a united whole, and can thus be seen as a synonym for Union. Economic and social disparities can weaken the EU, and when they are clustered, they can even endanger its territorial integrity. Brexit is a recent and extreme example of such a risk, but not the only one. In addition to the traditional North-South divide that was apparent during the economic crisis, there is an increasingly noticeable East-West division as far as attitudes to European integration are concerned. Cohesion is so important for the future of European integration that it should be mainstreamed into the analysis of every EU institution and policy.
This module aims to contribute to our understanding of how European integration affects different individuals, social groups, and regions, and how this in turn affects their support for European integration. The final aim is not only to help us design institutions and policies that minimise divisions and strengthen cohesion, but also to increase public awareness of alternative views and foster mutual understanding.
The project is based on three premises. First, although European integration is a good thing for a great majority of Europeans, its costs and benefits are unevenly distributed across individuals, social groups, and regions. Secondly, support for European integration and particular EU policies is to a great extent determined by utilitarian considerations, so this unequal effect of EU policies generates EU-related political cleavages. Finally, it is crucial for us Europeans, from citizens to policy makers, to understand the nature and the causes of such cleavages so that we can understand the other side of the debate and minimise unnecessary conflict.
This module will offer three yearly editions of an open online course of European integration. The courses will be suitable for students and teachers that are not generally exposed to EU studies, either because of the topic of their studies (e.g. tourism, finance, journalism, agriculture) or because of their country of origin (e.g. EU Neighbourhood and other third countries). Each course will have a common scope and a different focus and will be divided into three parts. A common part will offer an overview of what the EU does in the different policy fields (economic, social, and foreign policies). This will be followed by a specific part that will deepen into the analysis particular EU policies, and will focus each year on one of the above-mentioned three broad policy areas. Finally, a last common part will deal with the institutions and politics of the EU. In all the three parts of each course special attention will be paid to the issue of territorial cohesion.
The courses will make extensive use of Information and Communication Technologies and Open Educational Resources. They will be taught online in the form of synchronous lectures and webinars, and asynchronous online discussions. All the lectures will be public, broadcast live, and recorded for future reference, whereas the webinars and online-only discussions will be restricted to the course participants. After the end of the project there will be three playlists published on YouTube, each of them including the a minimum of twelve public lectures of its respective edition of the course.
The courses will be open to all the partners of the EUROSCI Network. Although there will be a single university responsible for the management of the project, partners of the EUROSCI Network in other universities and countries will be able to contribute by providing students and offering academic recognition for the courses at their respective universities. In addition to the course leader, students will have a contact person at their home universities that will gather them weekly for lectures or seminars, and offer information and general assistance related to the course. The final certificate of each course will be co-signed by representatives of the universities of the Network that have provided a greater number of students.