Background

This page was last updated: 15/12/2015

Europe is struggling with human security. Human Security, a concept developed by the UN in 1994, refers to security threats individuals experience, which go beyond national security and are related to global or regional developments, conflicts and crisis. UNDP defined 7 areas of threats: Economic security, Food security, Health security, Environmental security, Personal security, Community security and Political security. The global economic and financial crisis, the conflicts and migration flows that result, in part at least, from it, as well as the changing landscape of economic powers impact on all these types of security in European countries today.

Dominant in the public and political debate are issues like the endangered security of the citizens of Ukraine and of the EU due to military conflicts; the growing number of refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to escape from conflict and poverty, escaping one human tragedy only to face, often, another; the fear of terrorism within the EU related to the activities of IS in Syria, Iraq and North Africa; and increased xenophobia and violence against migrant populations within the EU.

But as the concept of Human Security suggests, security is not only an issue to be discussed and debated in relation to violence and conflict. It is also a topical subject in relation to the growing marginalization of vulnerable groups in European countries, to a large extent related to the effects of the financial and economic crisis of the past 8 years and the austerity policies that followed from it. Especially the situation of the unemployed, older people, young people, people with disabilities, migrants and ethnic minorities, and others, can be considered insecure in relation to income and access to food, healthcare and basic social security. In addition, there are growing concerns about the security of the natural environment in terms of global warming, rising sea levels and decreased access to clean water and air. Combined, one could argue that in a broad sense ‘Human Security’ within Europe is at stake.

In this course we will address Human Security in Europe by looking at three questions:

  • In what ways is Human Security threatened in European countries today, both within the EU and in wider Europe as a whole, and what new and emerging forms of social exclusion are associated with these threats?
  • How are these threats related to regional or global developments and crises and what mechanisms are involved?
  • What can be done by which actors on what levels, to protect individuals, groups, communities and societies from these threats?

The course encourages diverse approaches to these questions from different academic disciplines that are dealing with issues related to the public domain, including, but not limited to: sociology, political science, public administration and policy sciences, anthropology, European Studies, law, economics, organisational sciences etc. Above all, we encourage explorations of these issues which combine theory and practice, addressing both analytical questions and issues of policy interventions, governance and political strategy, whether at the local, national, comparative, European and/or global level, as well as on the importance of activism and social movements.