Often Europe is reduced to a geographical collection of states and/or a young experiment in economic community struggling to add a political dimension. This perspective needs to be expanded, both in space and time, to encourage a historical, cultu...
Often Europe is reduced to a geographical collection of states and/or a young experiment in economic community struggling to add a political dimension. This perspective needs to be expanded, both in space and time, to encourage a historical, cultural and geo-political understanding of Europe as a continent, as the space where a specific civilization has developed that is unique in the world in some important ways, as well as a rich potpourri of sub- and supra-national cultures.
It is just this multi-layered Europe in its contemporary and yet historically-conditioned guises, striking in both its unity and diversity, that the proposed study program seeks to introduce to students originating from American university campuses. If there is a tendency on the other side of the Atlantic to see Europe as a simple economic entity, there is recent and growing interest on both sides of the Atlantic in providing a fuller account of the current reality known as ‘Europe’, an account that would draw on a wider range of voices to include cultural influences (writers, artists, philosophers) among others.
The choice of Brussels and Belgium is propitious in several ways: a space where multiple European cultures meet; a nation-state emblematic of and central to the great political and geopolitical constructs of the 19th century; emblematic also of the great European university tradition and of the tradition of humanism; an historically important European capital, including within the great empires (Roman, Spanish, Germanic), and today the policy and decisional center of the European Union as well as home to a lively, multi-lingual, contemporary and urbanized European culture.