The European Union and the Crisis Crucible

The course explores the political dynamics of one of the greatest achievements of modern international politics: the European integration project. You will examine why and how the European Union arose, how it governs itself, and how the recent economic and geopolitical challenges have forced the entity and its member states to grapple with the principles of democracy, solidarity, and national sovereignty at both supranational and national levels.

Inside the Classroom

The course focuses on the following crises that serve as lenses through which to examine the complex interaction of the aforementioned principles of democracy, solidarity, and national sovereignty at supranational and national levels:

  • Eurozone crisis of 2008-2012
  • Migration crisis of 2015 and subsequent debates
  • Populism and democratic backsliding in Hungary and Poland
  • Brexit
  • Collective COVID-19 response
  • The war in Ukraine and the resulting debate over sanctions against Russia.
The course’s focus on controversial and divisive issues lends itself to vigorous class debates and frequent team work that will provide valuable lessons in considering rival viewpoints and engaging in civil discourse and exchange of ideas. 

Outside the Classroom

Participating in this SSIR course will allow you the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities outside the classroom.  The winter break study trip to Belgium promises to be an important learning experience that will help students apply the knowledge they gained in the classroom and internalize the institutional and policy-making setting of the EU. Students will tour the main institutions of the EU, such as the European Commission, European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. They will also meet with representatives of select interest groups and non-governmental organizations. Finally, a day trip to beautiful Bruges will feature a tour of the College of Europe campus, a graduate institution devoted to training EU experts.

Research and Capstone Project

During the spring term, students will be expected to study migration policy in greater depth and investigate a specific policy position that reflects the preferences of a group of countries. For the group project, students will conduct a multi-day simulation of the European Council negotiations on migration policy and propose a specific policy solution.