Topical and well-received PhD course on a differentiated Europe

In May 2021, ARENA organised a new PhD course, gathering doctoral students and leading scholars to discuss a differentiated Europe and its implications. 

Image may contain: Gesture, Finger, Nail, Tableware, Thumb.

Photo: Colourbox

STV9431 – A differentiated Europe and its implications

  • Level: PhD
  • Credits: 10
  • Open for students enrolled in international and Norwegian PhD programmes
  • No participation fee
  • Teaching: Spring 2021, 2022 and 2023

The PhD course STV9431 – A differentiated Europe and its implications took place online on 18-21 May 2021. The teaching was built on the topics and research of the ARENA-coordinated project EU Differentiation, Dominance and Democracy (EU3D).

John Erik Fossum and Jarle Trondal, who led and organised the course, were particularly pleased with the many fruitful discussions and the contributions from all participants. 

‘Despite being an online zoom event, we were happy to see lively debates among the participants and also some possibility to get to know each other,’ said Jarle Trondal.    

A differentiated Europe

Through a combination of lectures, discussions and reading material, the PhD course introduced doctoral students to theories and observations on core aspects of differentiation in the EU context. 

The core objective of the course was to address differentiation as a central concern in European studies. This was done by conceptualizing differentiation, discussing causes and effects of differentiation, and showing how differentiation manifests itself internally in the EU and the EU’s relations with non-members.

‘I would like to point out the importance and relevance of learning about a differentiated Europe and its implications. This is a key point in the current debate on how the future of Europe will be shaped’, said Katerina Klimoska, course participant and PhD candidate at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje.

The program for the seminar was structured around the following key themes: Conceptualizing and theorizing differentiation, EU and differentiation, Implications for Norway and the UK, and the COVID-19 pandemic and EU differentiation.

Lectures by leading scholars on differentiation 

The PhD training benefited from a large network of scholars with whom ARENA researchers collaborate. During the week, fellow distinguished lecturers joined Fossum and Trondal to discuss the key themes of the course. 

Scholars Dirk Leuffen, Professor at the University of Konstanz and EU3D researcher, and Benjamin Leruth, Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen, gave presentations on the topic of EU and differentiation. 

Later in the week, Sieglinde Gstöhl, Director of the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies and Professor at the College of Europe, gave a lecture on the topic of EU relations with non-members. The course directors were also delighted to welcome Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Professor at Boston University, who held a very topical talk about COVID-19 and its possible implications for EU differentiation. 

‘I particularly enjoyed lectures from outstanding researchers within many different strands of EU research and with a wide range of methodological approaches. It gave me an overview of relevant ongoing research that I can relate to my own research. I also found it to be a great opportunity to connect with established researchers, several of whom later sent me relevant material for my own research’, said Karin Vaagland, course participant and PhD candidate at Fafo. 

Discussions and student presentations

Another key purpose of the course was to give participants feedback and input on their ongoing work. All the participants gave presentations on a paper or the conceptual framework of their PhD project.

During the course, individual presentation were proceeded by feedback and discussions among the students and professors.

‘The student presentation was another great aspect of the course. As a PhD student, it is wonderful to be given training in presenting, and giving and receiving feedback’, Karin Vaagland added in her feedback about the course.

To complete the course, participants will write an essay paper, due in July.  Successful candidates will receive a certificate recommending 10 ECTS credits.

Following the evaluation of the social sciences in Norway (SAMEVAL), ARENA has also been granted funds to organise the course in 2022 and 2023.


By Torill Settemsdal Hansen
Published June 24, 2021 1:16 PM - Last modified June 24, 2021 2:28 PM