Sep 26th 2016

European Culture and Politics (FutureLearn)

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Learn about the link between identity, culture and politics in the construction of contemporary Europe. 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.

Develop your intercultural communication skills with researchers and learners throughout Europe

The course has been developed by the Euroculture programme, which conducts research and runs a multi-university master’s programme on European culture and politics.

By joining this course and discussing your ideas with thousands of other learners across and beyond Europe, you will develop your intercultural communication skills and gain experience of discussing controversial and complex issues honestly and respectfully.

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.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

- describe how European political integration is embedded in broader cultural modalities such as language or memory;

- explain Europe as a multifaceted and ever-changing entity;

- define the main transdisciplinary debates on Europe and European identity;

- understand deeper and more underlying roots of contemporary problems of Europe integration;

- propose innovative sustainable solutions to these problems;

- debate sensitive topics in a culturally and academically diverse environment.