Anthony J Lockett
JSIS A 494
Introduction to research into European topics and to the analysis of problems.
This course will focus on policy-making in the European Union (EU), with a particular emphasis on the new opportunities for public engagement offered by digital media. The EU is emerging from one of the most serious economic, social and political crises in over fifty years. The course will examine how the response to the crisis is leading EU countries down a path of further integration. It will study how this is pushing the boundaries of solidarity between Member States, as well as testing the limits of political will to pool further sovereignty at the EU level. We will consider how far these developments are linked to a crisis of public confidence that has seen levels of popular support for EU membership falling to an all-time low in some countries. The course will also focus on longstanding questions about the accountability and democratic legitimacy of the European Union, which have taken on a new urgency in the current context. We will then go on to look at the impact of the digital media revolution on the European Union. From the Arab Spring to the US Presidential elections, there are countless examples of the new opportunities provided by digital media for political mobilization, communication and engagement. Governments are also harnessing digital media in an effort to become more open, transparent and interactive. What does this mean for the way the EU’s institutions engage with different audiences, collaborate with external partners, involve the public and interest groups in policy-making, as well as communicating information and data? Can digital media help the EU to bridge the gap with citizens and galvanize support for the next phase of European integration?
Student learning goals
The course will offer students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of how European Union policy-making works in practice.
Through hands-on exercises in a collaborative environment, students will be able to compare the academic literature on European integration with real-world examples and case studies.
The class is also likely to be of interest to students with a wider interest in political communication and the impact of digital media on government.
General method of instruction
The instructor is responsible for digital engagement and communication at the European Commission. He is currently spending a period at the University of Washington as a European Union Fellow (Visiting Scholar). The course will take on board theory and analysis from the academic world, the latest policy developments from the EU institutions and governmental sources, as well as insights from key players in the online debate (bloggers, think tanks etc…). One of the highlights of the course will be a live video debate with an EU decision-maker (representative of the Parliament, Commission or Council) organized in cooperation with the organization Debating Europe (www.debatingeurope.eu) using the Skype in the Classroom (www.education.skype.com) platform.
The course will begin with a general overview of the EU. However, students should already have at least a general understanding of the EU’s institutions and policies before the start of the course (either through having followed an introductory class previously, or through relevant readings). Students will also be able to contribute most constructively to the class if they have developed a sound grasp (either through the relevant literature or practical experiences) of the impact of digital media on electoral politics, civil society, business and government.
Class assignments and grading
The weekly written assignments and final paper (see class assignments and grading below) will simulate everyday tasks performed by EU policy-makers, officials, journalists and civil society advocates. These will range from the preparation of a comprehensive communication strategy on an area of EU policy to the drafting of a press release.
1. Active and informed participation during in-class discussions (20%) 2. Online collaboration and sharing of relevant materials and examples (20%) 3. Short weekly written assignments (30%) 4. Final paper (30%)