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Consensus or Crisis?

EU Unit 2018 - Visit to EUI
Up close with the European Union

The EU’s crises have been grabbing global headlines for almost a decade. But where did these multi-dimensional crises come from? What caused them? What will they do to the EU and what made them a ‘crisis’ in the first place?

 As part of the Arts Semester in Prato program, 44 students from Monash’s campuses in Australia and Malaysia examined these questions during the four-week unit The European Union from Consensus to Crisis.

 This unit couldn’t have been timelier. Brexit – which has become a British, more than an EU, crisis – was playing out as they studied this important political event. Students learnt about the causes and consequences of the Eurozone crisis. They saw how this fed into and exacerbated what came to be called the EU’s ‘migrant crisis’, which in turn had political repercussions throughout the EU. Insights into these crises were grounded in an understanding of the EU’s political institutions. This helped students understand the way the EU’s crises of the past decade were a result of the interplay of internal and external shocks with the constraints and possibilities afforded by the EU’s structures of governance.

 Students participated in a mixture of innovative learning activities from simulations of votes in the EU’s institutions to interactive ‘lectorials’ with Monash staff and guest speakers.  In particular, visits from Dr Greg French, the Australian Ambassador to Italy, and Mr Marco Piantini, an advisor to a recent Italian Prime Minister, gave students unique insights from high-level analysts. During an excursion to the European University Institute in the nearby town of Fiesole students heard from an academic panel conducting the latest research on these topics. They also had the opportunity to ask questions of these experts directly relating to their assessment tasks. One of these tasks was to work collaboratively to make a video of their essay. This helped students begin to think about – and receive support from Monash experts, including unit coordinator Dr Ben Wellings, for – their final essay to be submitted after their return home, no doubt after some travel around Europe for Christmas!

Studying this unit in Europe, where the effects of the crises can be seen and felt closely, has given students a unique insight into this regional crisis with global implications.