German Studies Seminar 2012
The core nation states in Europe have for many decades been among the strongest and most reliable allies of the United States and with the introduction of the Euro have turned into an unparalleled economic powerhouse as well. The original idea of a European identity nurtured by a common history, similar societal values and a multitude of cultural patterns woven by regional differences and commonalities across national borders was to lead to a new Europe of nation states, a truly unique and unparalleled experiment in history. This new identity was to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding, cooperation, and wealth across borders to eliminate forever the threat of serious conflicts turning into the terrible wars that have plagued the citizens of virtually all European nations for hundreds of years.
The German Studies Seminar will explore how successful this unique experiment has been, if there is today a truly European identity - and if so, how it is defined. What happened to national interests, cultures, and identities? How are regional, national and European interests balanced in areas such as the economy, labor market, social system and legislation? Who shapes European values, who sets the goals in European foreign policy, and how do serious crises affect national and European markets and currencies? How do citizens feel about the various levels of identity, governance and bureaucracies they are subjected to, and how do these bodies align their positions from day to day?
Europeans are puzzled at times; they all have at least two cultural identities, with strong national or even regional ties and a common set of 'old' European values. There are signs that some ties across nations in Europe fade quickly when challenged by hard national economic or international political realities. Which side will a country take when the going gets tough? The seminar will attempt to tackle some of these questions in Brussels, in Germany and a neighboring country.