• Length:
    4 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–3 hours per week
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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time



About this course

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Do you wonder what the European Union is all about? What challenges does it face and can it survive them? How will the eurozone crisis, the refugee crisis, Brexit and the COVID-19 outbreak reshape Europe? This is the course for you!

In this course, we will introduce you to key concepts and historical turning points, which have shaped contemporary Europe. What is national sovereignty and can it be shared? What impact has the 1989 collapse of communism had on Europe and is the East-West divide still relevant today? Can the North-South division triggered by the eurozone crisis be overcome, or will it be reinforced through the COVID-19 outbreak? And finally, what is the best size for a political unit?

The course’s ultimate focus is on the function and status of national and European borders and the question of what it means to belong to a political community: who is in, who is out? How and why are people included or excluded? And, what, finally, is the future of a borderless Europe?

Taught by a skeptical European who lived, studied and worked in Germany, Slovakia, Ireland, Australia and Hong Kong, this course includes a number of interviews with leading scholars, practitioners and best-selling authors, including Timothy Garton Ash, David Goodhart, Kalypso Nicolaïdis, George Papandreou and Helen Thompson.

The European Union pervades all aspects of people’s lives. But the course will be of particular interest to many professionals dealing with the EU whether they are EU citizens, or not.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s ERASMUS+ Programme — Jean Monnet "Modules, Chairs and Centres of Excellence" and "Policy Debate with the academic world", under grant agreement number 2015-3375/006/575445-EPP-1-2016-1-HK-EPPJMO-CHAIR- PREFIN-16D030223.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Key political concepts such as citizenship, democracy, nationalism and sovereignty
  • An understanding of the multiple sources of the European project’s crisis
  • Historical moments which have shaped contemporary Europe, such as 1989
  • The impact of current challenges: coronavirus outbreak, Brexit, eurozone crisis

Week 1: Europe at a crossroads: COVID-19 & Brexit

  • What is the ideal of a “Europe without Borders”? Are we witnessing its unravelling?
  • How is Europe confronting the challenges of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Why does the concept of sovereignty matter for understanding the current state of the world?

Week 2: The European Union and the nation-state

  • Who are “We, the People”? What holds political communities together? Who is included/excluded?
  • What type of political unit is the European Union? What does it mean to be an EU citizen? Has the EU transcended the idea of sovereignty?

Week 3: A union under strain: The Eurozone and refugee crises

  • Has European integration proceeded too fast?
  • Eurozone crisis: what are the limits of solidarity inside the EU?
  • Refugee crisis: Towards a divided Europe of reinstated borders?

Week 4: Post-1989 Europe and the “end of history”

  • The meaning of 1989 and the return of Central Europe
  • Is the old East-West divide still relevant today?
  • Can European values survive the resurgence of illiberalism? What are the prospects of the European project in the near future?

Meet your instructors

Stefan Auer
Associate Professor
The University of Hong Kong
Nicole Scicluna
Visiting Lecturer
The University of Hong Kong
Timothy Garton Ash (Guest speaker)
University of Oxford
George Papandreou (Guest speaker)
Former Prime Minister of Greece
Socialist International

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Learner testimonials

- This was a great course. The bite-sized lectures and interviews with several scholars was an interesting formula. A lot of ground was covered, which helped me brush up some of the things I studied at university many years ago.

- The course is well-organized and structured with videos featuring interviews with experts on different topics. [It] allows me to recall what I've learned before and know more about the latest development and challenges of EU.

- I'm finding it to be an incredibly interesting time to take this course specifically. I've always been interested in the EU, but due to Brexit and Coronavirus, the entire EU seems to be the most interesting place on Earth right now.

- There were some very pertinent concepts and issues raised in these videos which certainly gave food for thought... I am very satisfied with the quality of this course’s content.

- Thank you for a class that truly broadened my knowledge and understanding of the EU.