Events

Sixth European Studies Conference

December 5-6, 2014

This year, The Sixth European Studies Conference on Europe and its links to the world is entitled “From Enthusiasm to Skepticism: a Changing European Union.” This open title suggests that we welcome diverse perspectives from many areas of scholarship in a range of disciplines on any topic, time period, situation or concept that may have bearing on modern Europe. Therefore, you should feel free to propose any topic that fits the broad synergies suggested by the title of the event.

The Sixth European Studies Conference will be held on December 5 and 6. “From Enthusiasm to Skepticism” is co-sponsored by International Programs and the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. We invite faculty and graduate students from different colleges and departments to send proposals. Please send a working title and a short description of your presentation to michel-laronde@uiowa.edu. Twenty-minute presentations will be the norm.

Contact

Michel Laronde: Organizer, Sixth European Studies Conference; co-director, European Studies Group (ESG) with Luis Martin-Estudillo
Department of French and Italian/DWLLC
michel-laronde@uiowa.edu

Keynote Speakers

Michael Johns

Michael Johns
Chair of Political Science, Laurentian University, Ontario, Canada
Faculty website

Dr. Michael Johns is the Chair of Political Science and the Vice Dean of Arts with Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland where he served as the Project Co-ordinator for the Minorities at Risk project (MAR). He now serves on MAR’s international advisory board. Prior to coming to Laurentian he was the Researcher in Residence for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities. His work focuses on issues surrounding minority and migrant rights in the European Union and he has recently published The New Minorities of Europe: Social Cohesion in the European Union with Lexington Press. Dr. Johns currently serves on the Executive of the Centre for Research on Canadian-Russian Relations and recently finished a two year Honourary Research Fellowship with Cardiff University. 

Title: Social Cohesion in the European Union: The True Threat of Euro-Skepticism

Abstract: With the European Union still recovering from the Greek economic collapse, the Spanish unemployment crisis and many other financial threats both ongoing and looming on the horizon it would be easy to draw a parallel between the growth of Euro-skepticism and this economic malaise. The EU has always had skeptics who have argued that the member-states have given up too much sovereignty. What offset those concerns was the fact that the EU made the member-states more wealth. With that no longer being the case the anger over what the EU has become is easily understandable. The economic downturn in the EU has also exposed a larger, more dangerous problem for the EU: Social Cohesion. Member-States, particularly from the West, are struggling with issues surrounding immigration from outside of the EU, national minorities and the growing problem of intra-EU migration. The pressure that membership in the European Union places on states exacerbates these tensions and this talk argues that this is where the true danger to the future of the EU lies. Unless the European Union becomes more actively involved in working with the member states on issues of social cohesion the rise in Euro-skepticism will only increase and the long-term stability of the union is threatened. Drawing from the author’s new book the presentation will examine the challenges of social cohesion and provide recommendations as to how to move forward to ease these threats. 

John Gillingham

John Gillingham
Former University of Missouri Board of Curators Professor of History, University of Missouri - Saint Louis
Faculty website

John Gillingham is the author of three books about what is now called the European Union, each of them published by Cambridge UP: Coal, Steel and the Rebirth of Europe, 1945-1955 (1991), European Integration, 1950-2003 (2003), and Design for a New Europe (2006). An early champion of the EU among historical scholars, he has over the past two decades become increasingly skeptical about the organization as well as pessimistic concerning both its future and legacy. Now semi-retired, Gillingham was for many years a University of Missouri Board of Curators Professor. He has been a fellow at Harvard’s Center for European Studies (CES) as well as the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. His word has been translated into eight languages.   

Title: Is the Past of the European Union a Guide to its Future?

Abstract: Far from being a straight upward trajectory pointing to an ever closer union, the history of what now is called the European Union is (EU)one of zigs and zags alternating with prolonged bouts of stagnation.  It appears pattern less. The present EU has at the same time morphed from what initially was a customs union with soaring dreams into a rudderless political entity equipped with semi-sovereign administrative powers, the most important of which, however, are exercised by a different but affiliated entity, the European Monetary Union (EMU). For its part, the EMU is steered by the European Central Bank (ECB).  The tail wags the dog. But what wags the tail? No one can say for sure, because there is no simple guide to policy-making. The search for explanations requires long wandering through the maze of dysfunctional Euro-institutions. The usual excuse for the muddle is that the EU is moving through uncharted waters. This is only partly true. The shortcomings of the Euro-institutions are obvious.  The EU is undemocratic and lacks public support, corrupt and wasteful, unaccountable, extralegal, increasingly archaic, and immobilized. The EU is not sui generis and does not merit treatment as such. In the likely absence of far-reaching reform, it will suffer the fate of other structurally-flawed and similarly over-ambitious international organizations such as the UN and the League of Nations. Like them, it will not die but just fade away, optimally without inflicting much collateral damage.