Background

“The European Dream is a beacon of light in a troubled world. It beckons us to a new age of inclusivity, diversity, quality of life, sustainability, universal human rights, the rights of nature, and peace on earth.”
Jeremy Rifkin

This course deals with the challenges of a new Europe and focuses on the emerging choices which will have to be made to cope with both the social problems we face and the ambitions we cherish. The world outside Europe is looking at European unification with great interest, enthusiasm, admiration, curiosity and even jealousy, whereas the European countries and peoples themselves seem to have a much more sceptical and sometimes even negative view on this process.

In his book ‘the European Dream’ the American futurist Jeremy Rifkin even states that nowadays Europe – more than the United States of America – offers a hopeful perspective for the future of humankind. The time of the American Dream as an inspiring vision for so many people in the world is over and has been replaced by the newly emerging European Dream, he argues. Europe is facing a number of challenges. How can the rights of minorities be safeguarded through political institutions?; in what ways do social and economic differences within Europe pose a threat to the enlarged EU and to the relations between the EU and its neighbours?; is cultural diversity within Europe an asset or does it block further cooperation?; can Europe afford its ambitious ideals for economic and social development?; what kind of global player should Europe become?; and what national or supranational policies are needed to deal with the forms of inclusion and exclusion which are connected with these challenges?

In 2010 we will pay attention at the consequences and, even more important, in the chances that come from the multiple crises Europe is dealing with. Especially the financial and economical crises as well as the political crisis partly block the further integration of the European Union and, at the same time, fuel existing and new forms of exclusion. But both crises also lead to a new sense of urgency for dealing with these issues and can lead to innovation. In 1998 the emphasis was on the exploration of the concept In- and Exclusion. In 2000 there was an accent on empirical data. The edition of 2002 paid extra attention to Inclusion and Exclusion in terms of (policy and governmental and non-governmental) intervention. In 2004 the course focussed on the EU-enlargement and the future of ‘civil society’ and ‘governance’ and in 2006 we were looking at the dilemmas in dealing with diversity and the directions that are open for action. In 2008 the focus was on some paradoxical tendencies in Europe. At the on hand the tendency of Europe becoming more parochial and provincial and at the other hand a tendency of Europe becoming more cosmopolitan and mere important as a global player.