• Call for Participation – EUC 2016-17 Module: Past Present and Future of Democracy on the European Union Level

    Note: This course is being moved to PKU’s Spring 2017 semester, which runs from mid-February to the end of May 2017.

    The European University Center (EUC) at Peking University (PKU) has as one of its core activities a semester-long course in the School of Government for graduate taught and graduate research students at PKU on European Studies. Each year EUC attempts to improve the module based on student feedback, exit surveys with guest lecturers, and internal deliberations. This briefing will provide some details on the contents and structure of the course and forms a request for expressions of interest to contribute.


    In response to prior student feedback and in order to lend the module academic coherence, each year the EUC selects a theme to structure the lectures and seminars. This year the theme is “Past, Present, and Future of Democracy on the European Union Level” This theme is of pressing importance to citizens of Europe and to people elsewhere looking to the EU as a model. It will be of interest not only to political scientists, but also historians, political philosophers, legal scholars, sociologists, anthropologists, and academics from any other discipline willing to engage substantively with the theme.


    Below you will find a synopsis of the module, an outline of the practical arrangements, and a call for expressions of interest. The call for expressions of interest should be distributed as widely as possible within the social science and humanities of your university, including disciplines such as law and business.


    “Past, Present, and Future of Democracy on the European Union Level”


    There has been a fairly long history of discussion on the so-called “democratic deficit” on the European Union level. From the beginning, the issue is at the core of the European project. It involves fundamental questions such as: Who exactly are making those important decisions that are meant to impact lives of all European residents? How are they accountable to people? In order for there to be effective democracy on the EU level, there has to be a “people of the EU” in the first place. But is there such a people? Recently, financial and refugee crises have further revealed the problems underlying the EU entity, in which the issue of democracy plays a crucial role. Europe is the birthplace of democracy for humanity. Today, democracies inside Europe are still considered to be role models, but can EU also be such a role model? Looking from the perspective of democracy, we can certainly gain a fruitful insight of what EU is and what it can be in the future. Furthermore, the issue can also be related to political systems in China, and perhaps Asia more broadly, in a comparative way.


    The litany of topics and perspectives that can be brought to bear on this topic in the EUC-PKU module is vast. At the national level, questions surrounding the drivers of public opinion toward the EU are of central importance to the future of Europe. Ongoing debates in the UK, for example, are likely to result in a nationwide referendum by the end of 2016 on whether that country should “exit” the EU. The referendum will likely be extremely salient for students in the autumn of 2016 as debates about the role of the UK in Europe intensify. At the sub-national level, ongoing debates about secessionism and local autonomy in the EU are likely to remain on the public agenda as Catalan pro-independence parties aim to hold a plebiscite sometime in 2016 or 2017. At the inter-state level, questions about democratic legitimacy of EU officials and institutions manifest themselves not only when financial crises arise, as occurred in Greece throughout 2015, but also, for example, when judicial decisions at the European level impact on state practice or when the EU makes decisions about relations with external power such as Russia or the United States.


    Ultimately all of these questions – and more – bear on the relationship between democracy and the EU. The aforementioned list is by no means exhaustive, but lecturers on the module would be encouraged to locate their own lectures and seminars within broad debates about the democratic past, present, and future of the EU.

    Course structure


    The EUC course will be provided in the Autumn semester of the 2016-17 academic year. The course will have opening and closing sessions by PKU staff and have lectures from both PKU staff and staff from European partners throughout the course. Students are primarily Ph.D.-level students of PKU and the lecturer can expect English-language proficiency along with interest in the subject matter.


    For the course, coordinated jointly by Dr. Demin Duan from PKU and Dr. Alexander Dukalskis from UCD, lecturers will provide one lecture and one seminar, of three hours each. The precise format is up to the lecturer, but a high level of engagement and interaction with students is encouraged – certainly there should not be lectures for more than three of the six hours. The lectures and seminars should be geared toward graduate students and should cover relevant literatures, concepts, and debates. Lectures and readings should not primarily consist of the lecturer’s own research but should rather engage with broader conceptual and empirical debates relevant to the module theme. Lecturers will be asked to provide about 100 pages of reading to the students that they will complete in advance of the lecturer’s instruction. Reading assignments should consist of a few specific readings that all students will complete (as opposed to long lists of general suggested readings).


    In addition to the lecture and seminar for the students, each lecturer will provide a seminar presentation open to the wider academic audience at PKU based on their own current research (typically two hours including discussion). Students will be encouraged but not required to attend the latter, and the research seminar will be advertised separately and more broadly, depending on the research topic of the lecturer. The research presentation would ideally, but not necessarily, be somewhat related to the lecture topic. The main purpose is that through such research presentations, there are better opportunities to establish research links with academics in PKU who are interested in similar topics. This venue also gives the visiting lecturer a chance to showcase his/her research to peers working on similar issues in Beijing.


    The specific schedule will be provided once PKU makes available its academic calendar, but the structure of the course will look like the following, with the teaching module running from September to December:

    Date Hours Lecture Lecturer
    Week 1 3 Introduction Demin Duan
    Week 2 or 3 3 Guest lecture Guest lecturer 1
    Week 2 or 3 Public seminar Guest lecturer 1
    Week 2 or 3 3 Guest seminar Guest lecturer 1
    Week 3 or 4 3 Guest lecture Guest lecturer 2
    Week 3 or 4 Public seminar Guest lecturer 2
    Week 3 or 4 3 Guest seminar Guest lecturer 2
    Week 4 or 5 3 Guest lecture Guest lecturer 3
    Week 4 or 5 Public seminar Guest lecturer 3
    Week 4 or 5 3 Guest seminar Guest lecturer 3
    Between lecture 3 & 4 3 Mid-term summary Demin Duan
    Week 6 or 7 3 Guest lecture Guest lecturer 4
    Week 6 or 7 Public seminar Guest lecturer 4
    Week 6 or 7 3 Guest seminar Guest lecturer 4
    Week 7 or 8 3 Guest lecture Guest lecturer 5
    Week 7 or 8 Public seminar Guest lecturer 5
    Week 7 or 8 3 Guest seminar Guest lecturer 5
    Week 8 or 9 3 Guest lecture Guest lecturer 6
    Week 8 or 9 Public seminar Guest lecturer 6
    Week 8 or 9 3 Guest seminar Guest lecturer 6
    Final teaching week of semester 3 Conclusion Demin Duan


    Another change to the course as it was taught in previous years is that there will be greater emphasis on discussion and participation online, as well as increased communication online between the different participating lecturers. The idea is to set up a mailing list for the lecturers to be able to discuss the overall topic and structure of the course both before and during its provision, to increase coherence of the course. In addition, a web forum will be set up where all lecturers and all students will be registered and where the course coordinators will set up discussion topics and encourage all to participate. Students may be graded in part based their online participation in the discussion. An attempt will be made, in discussion with the respective lecturers, to create discussion topics that integrate contents from different (consecutive) lectures. Lecturers are of course expected to participate in these discussions.


    Call for participation


    The schedule above implies that we will need six lecturers from European partners. In previous years the schedule of the classes was to a large extent based on the availability of the teaching lecturers, but an attempt will be made to provide a somewhat logical order of the classes within the course. Greater flexibility in scheduling could possibly be created by having PKU academic staff contributing more lectures.


    In your expression of interest, please indicate:


    • A proposed lecture theme and a short description.
    • A proposed research presentation topic.
    • An updated C.V.
    • Dates during the Autumn semester when you are not available to travel to Beijing.


    Please note that the financial responsibility for travel and accommodation of teaching staff lies with the European partners, with PKU contributing two nights accommodation and an honorarium.


    For expressions of interest, please contact Alex Dukalskis at alexander.dukalskis@ucd.ie and CC Demin Duan at demin.duan@pku.edu.cn. For practical arrangements one can contact the local EUC coordinator Les Honywill at euc2009@pku.edu.cn.


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