ARENA to develop PhD course on a differentiated Europe

Differentiation is key to understanding the internal workings and external relations of the EU. The coming spring semester, ARENA will offer PhD students access to frontier research on all EU relevant aspects of differentiation.

Following the successful evaluation of the social sciences in Norway (SAMEVAL), ARENA has been granted additional funds to organise a new PhD course on the implications of differentiation in Europe. This will allow the centre to strengthen national researcher training in its core research area.

ARENA’s John Erik Fossum and Jarle Trondal will develop the annual PhD course, which will run for a period of three years. They aim to offer cutting-edge theoretical and empirical knowledge in the field of EU studies.

Linking up to international networks

The PhD training will draw resources from a large network of scholars with whom ARENA researchers collaborate. The teaching and training will build upon and link up to the EU-funded project EU3D that investigates differentiation, dominance and democracy in the EU and DiCE – Differentiation: Clustering Excellence, an even larger network bringing together several research clusters on differentiation, as well as the UACES Research Network on Differentiated Integration.

Through a combination of lectures by leading scholars and group work, the PhD course will introduce doctoral students to theories and observations on core aspects of differentiation in the European context.

‘PhD students will gain access to state-of-the-art research on all relevant aspects of differentiation in the EU context. Differentiation is key to understanding the internal workings of the EU as well as how relations between the EU and the external world are structured and conducted’, John Erik Fossum explains.

Jarle Trondal is also pleased to be able to offer this course on behalf of the top Norwegian research centre in European studies. ‘It gives us an opportunity to make frontier research available to the next generation of researchers, and to discuss and get feedback on our work from rising talents in the field’.

Online or physical format to be settled

ARENA plans to offer the first PhD course in the spring term of 2021, tentatively in May/June. The coursework will correspond to 10 ECTS credits for students submitting a course paper. PhD candidates can sign up when the course opens for applications/registration in early 2021. In line with the purpose of the SAMEVAL funds, candidates in political science enrolled in Norwegian PhD programmes will be prioritized. However, the course will also be available for international PhD students.

Further details will be announced in due time, including the extent to which the course will offered online or also in combination with physical presence in view of the Covid-19 outbreak. Enquiries may be directed at Marit Eldholm at ARENA.

A differentiated Europe

The core objective of this course is to address differentiation as a central concern in European studies, across academic disciplines from political science, public policy and public administration, to law, sociology and history. All modern political systems are differentiated; the EU is distinctly so. Precisely how and what the implications are for the EU and its member states remain contested. The course aims to conceptualize differentiation, discuss causes and effects of differentiation, and show how differentiation manifests itself internally in the EU and in the EU’s relations with non-members.

There is no doubt that the EU has become more differentiated. With 27 member states the EU’s ethnic, linguistic, cultural, institutional and structural diversity is pronounced, and it is in direct contact with a more multifaceted and diverse neighbourly environment, which increases the likelihood that the EU imports diversity. A further source of differentiation stems from increased contestation.

For those starting to take EU integration as a natural given, the Eurozone crisis and Brexit came as rude awakenings. The rise of Euroscepticism and Europhobic right-wing populism has given added impetus to a change from the ‘permissive consensus’ of the past to today’s ‘constraining dissensus’. The PhD course will be structured around four key themes:

  1. Conceptualizing and theorizing differentiation: What are the key characteristics of differentiation? What are the various forms of differentiation? What is the relationship between differentiation and democracy? It is recognized that some forms of differentiation are conducive to democracy, while others might be pathological. We understand these under the heading of dominance, as arbitrary and unjustified forms of rule;
  2. EU and differentiation: Overview of the current situation of differentiation in the EU context, with a focus on internal and external forms of differentiation;
  3. The corona pandemic and EU differentiation: Discussing the corona pandemic’s implications for the EU: Will it lead to increased fragmentation and differentiation, towards increased integration and consolidation, or to incremental and path-dependent processes of pragmatic change?;
  4. Implications for Norway and the UK: Comparing the role and status of one ex-member and one closely associated non-member. What kinds of EU affiliations will these states have when the UK actually departs from the EU post-2020? How to locate these affiliations in the differentiation scheme that the course develops?
Published Oct. 28, 2020 12:10 PM - Last modified Oct. 28, 2020 12:10 PM