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The Battle for Europe


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Topics: European Union, Current Issues, Challenges, Opportunities, Current Affairs
Skills: Research, analyse, problem solving, project work, cooperation, communicate verbally, communicate in writing, presenting, social conscientiousness, reflection, work independently

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.


Europe once ruled the world, but now the continent is under attack from all sides, including from within. Chinese President Xi Jinping sees the continent as a win-win region. He has been buying influence in the Western Balkans for years and is trying to tear the European Union apart. Russia feels threatened and President Putin conducts covert and now also military operations to disrupt the NATO. President Trump, meanwhile, made it easy for the Russians and Chinese by turning away from his closest allies and opening the attack on Europe himself. President Biden seems again more involved in Europe, but still pursues an America first strategy and is aware that the future is all about the Asian region. Prime Minister Johnson thought he would be better off outside the European Union, and the Hungarian and Polish leaders are undermining the democratic rule of law. They all believe that a strong European Union stands in the way of their ambitions. Political leaders struggle with an answer. The corona crisis, the war in Ukraine and many other issues have further increased the challenge. Can we win this battle for Europe? Can Biden repair the damage Trump has brought? What will the relationship between Germany and France bring? Will the EU remain a player in the world, or will the continent become the playground of world powers?

This course will explore current challenges and opportunities to and within the EU. This is done through different perspectives but is always focused on current affairs. With guest lectures from experts in different fields and practical exercises, students will explore the current challenges and opportunities. In a group assignment The Future of Europe, a Message to Europeans, students are challenged to debate and write a common perspective on what values, projects and ideals should hold together countries within the EU, facing current and future developments. In an individual assignment students tackle a challenge of their own choice and advice the EU on how to approach it. Finally, a short exam of 4 open questions will test the development of the knowledge of students throughout the course. The 4 open questions will relate to the current affairs topics that were discussed in the lectures.

The current affairs topics are not picked yet as these will focus on what is relevant at that point in time.

Course objectives:

  • Formulate a perspective on threats and opportunities for the European Union.

  • Develop a policy advice on a current issue in relation to the developments within or outside the European Union.

  • Analyse the functioning of the European Union.

  • Analyse current affairs and issues within the European Union and external factors which have an impact on it.

  • Explain the major milestones and developments within the European Union.

  • Create a personal perspective on current and ongoing issues within and about the future of the EU.

Programme and timetable:

The meetings of this class will take place on Thursdays from 19.15-22.00 with the exception of the last session which will take place on a Tuesday.

Session 1: October 19 (19.15-22.00)
The history and workings of the EU.
Two short lectures provide students with insights into the basics of how the EU works, how decisions are made, policies are developed and what the important departments and organisations are. In the second part, students create a timeline and mood board of the most important historical events, in their perspective, of the European Union and present this to their fellow classmates.

Session 2: November 2 (19.15-22.00)
Current affairs: topic 1.
Rob de Wijk provides students with a thought-provoking lecture on a current challenge or opportunity of the European Union in relation to defense, security and foreign relations. In the second part, students work in small groups on providing policy advice on how to deal with this current topic.

Session 3: November 9 (19.15-22.00)
EU Simulation on decision making within the EU.

Session 4: November 16 (19.15-22.00)
Current affairs: topic 2.
Mendeltje van Keulen provides students with a thought-provoking lecture on a current challenge or opportunity of the European Union in relation to its internal functioning and development of relations between local, regional and national governments and influence groups. In the second part, students will map the different levels of government, organizations and interest groups that try to influence EU decision making and provide advice on the best ways for these different groups to do so.

Session 5: November 23 (19.15-22.00)
Current affairs: topic 3.
Carolien de Gruyter provides students with a thought-provoking lecture on a current challenge or opportunity of the European Union compared to the Habsburg Empire. Through a debate with challenging statements, students will argue whether the EU awaits the same fate as the Habsburg empire and what the catalysts of this downfall will be.

Session 6: November 30 (19.15-22.00)
Current affairs: topic 4.
Hans van den Berg provides students with a thought-provoking lecture on a current challenge or opportunity of the European Union in relation to Russia, Eastern Europe and EU expansion policy. In the second part, students analyse a topic, in relation to the EU, which is currently being reported in the media. In doing so they will have to check the facts and get different perspectives on the topic. After having done so, they will have to create a short podcast on the topic to explain it in such a way that anybody can understand it, record it and share it with their fellow students.

Session 7: December 7 (19.15-22.00)
EU simulation on the accession of candidate states for the European Union.

Session 8: Tuesday December 12 (19.15-22.00)
Presentations of the Future of Europe, a Message to Europeans.

Wijnhaven in The Hague

Reading list:

The reading list will be announced on Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method:
This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means that the total course load equals 140 hours.

Contact hours: 24
Self-study: 116

  • 24 hours of 8 lectures.

  • 72 hours of self-study on relevant literature.

  • 21 hours on group podcast the Future of Europe, a message to Europeans.

  • 21 hours on individual essay A Policy Brief for the European Union.

  • 2 hours short essay question with 4 questions on the topics discussed during the lectures.

Enrollment for the exam will be done centrally, but you need to confirm your exam in MyStudyMap.

Assessment methods:

  1. Group project podcast: the future of Europe, a message to Europeans.
    In 3 groups of 15, students will debate the questions: What values, projects and ideals should hold together countries within the EU facing current and future developments? The topics will cover: Political, Cultural and Economical. The outcome will be a podcast based on their perspectives which is developed during the classes, the podcast will display their discussions and visions.

  2. Individual policy paper.
    Students can pick a topic of their choice; however, it must be relevant and current. First, they will have to analyze the topic and identify the problem or challenge. Here they also discuss why this should be a concern of the EU and be given attention. Second, they will provide an overview of what has been done so far, or what has been done in comparable cases. Lastly, they will have to provide an advice on how best to deal with the situation and give practical tips on how to move forward.

  3. Short essay questions: On the 14th of December, students will receive 4 short essay questions digitally for which they will have 24 hours to complete them. This is an open book assignment and they are allowed to use any sources from the course or alternative. Each question will need an answer of minimum 200 and maximum 500 words including references.

  • Group podcast the Future of Europe, a Message to Europeans (30%)

  • Individual policy paper (40%)

  • Short essay questions (30%)

Sufficient grade for every single assignment, compensation not possible.

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Application process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 21 August 2023 up to and including Tuesday 12 September 2023 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.


Course lecturer: Hans van den Berg: