Syllabus: Introduction to the European Union (POLS 4504)

Dancer, Dublin, Ireland

The purpose of the course is to introduce the European Union (EU). Originally formed in 1957 by six nations, the EU is currently composed of twenty-seven countries from Western and Central Europe. The goal of European unity is not a recent innovation, having existed at least since the time of Charlemagne, but a commitment to cooperate did not become a priority until after World War II when hesitation about relinquishing certain aspects of national sovereignty was overridden by the war's devastation. The authority of the EU evolved slowly through a series of treaty agreements to encompass a complex network of social, political, and economic responsibilities. In the process, an elaborate structure of institutions developed to manage the EU's expanding range of activities. At least three issues remain unresolved about the EU's future:

--the degree to which political—rather than merely economic—unity will be accomplished;

--the impact enlargement will have on the operation of the EU; and

--the challenge, if any, to the United States that will be posed by the collective strength of the EU's member states.

It has clearly become important for American students to know and understand the EU. The course incorporates historical, political, sociological, and economic considerations in studying the EU in order to appreciate the magnitude of what is being attempted

The learning objectives for the course require students to demonstrate knowledge of

--the historical antecedents and development of the EU
--the principal "treaties" that comprise the EU's legal structure

--the primary processes of EU governance

--the member units of the EU and the history of their incorporation into the EU

--the current challenges to the EU

--the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of the EU and what they imply about the EU's future

TEXTS: (the texts below are hyperlinked to Kindle editions of the book which may be read on the Kindle reader or on any device by means of the free Kindle software.

An Historical Introduction to the European Union
Philip Thrody, Routledge
, 2002

After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent
Walter Laqueur, Thomas Dunne Books, 2011

Selected readings from The Economist Magazine (requires an Economist digital subscription)

The Magic Mountain 
Thomas Mann (pdf selections supplied)

Selected reserve readings