European Election Day Exploratory Workshop

The so called ‘democratic deficit’ across the European Union is much discussed and remains in focus despite reforms to improve the status and powers of the European Parliament in relation to the other two pillars of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. A further set of suggested reforms would be to create a synchronised political day of Europe-wide voting. Applications are invited for a handful of mobility grants to be supported by the Europaeum and by the Graduate Institute in Geneva, to take part in an exploratory workshop on September 24th-26th in Geneva, focussing on the development of a ‘wholly European agenda’. The event is organised in partnership with the European University Institute and the Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute. The three-day workshop will explore the potential impact on the European ideological landscape; the impact of the rise of populist movements; and new ways of democratic engagement. Europaeum graduates working in relevant fields are invited to apply in the usual fashion with a CV, at least on reference and a motivation letter, to attend three days of talks, panels, and debates. Students will need to find their own travel, but all other costs will be covered. Please see the poster here and the programme here.

25th Anniversary Weekend & International Conference on Academic Freedom

Universities have come under increasing pressures in recent times from many directions. Together they can be seen as challenging one of the standard principles of university academic life – namely academic freedom. This will form the central theme of the international conference to be linked to our 25th anniversary weekend. Academic Freedom: New Times, New Challenges, will involve a number of keynote speakers who will discuss the growing range of pressures that universities today increasingly face. Universities in Turkey, in Poland and indeed in Hungary are probably in the front rank facing government pressures. Universities are also having to confront the new student-led pressure to create ‘safe spaces’ without extremist speakers. Cuts in public expenditure linked to increasing demands for vocational and other ‘priority’ forms of education form yet another threat to University autonomy. Finally, the search for new contracts from business and industry, can also lead university to adjust their research priorities and goals. Participants and speakers will include rectors and deputy rectors from all 12 Europaeum partners as well as 50 select Europaeum alumni. A keynote talk will take place on the evening of Friday, September 29th, with further sessions and discussions to continue in the Nissan Theatre at St Antony’s College, Oxford, on the Saturday. The anniversary weekend will also include meetings of a newly set up Executive Committee, chaired by Dr Andrew Graham, the annual Europaeum Academic Council, also chaired by Dr Graham, and Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr Pierre Keller, followed by the 25th anniversary dinner in Balliol College, Oxford, hosted by Lord Patten.

Europaeum welcomes CEU as special member

With our 25th anniversary celebrations in September imminent, the Europaeum is delighted to welcome the Central European University as a “special” new member for one year. The invitation was made by Europaeum members as a sign of solidarity with the CEU in its current plight in the face of new punitive laws being pursued by the Hungarian Government. For more see also the Footnote of the Month in our April Bulletin here. CEU representatives will attend the special 25th anniversary celebrations due in Oxford next September, and the linked annual international Europaeum Conference which will focus on the highly topical theme of Academic Freedom in European Higher Education. In their recent letter of welcome this month to Professor Michael Ignatieff, the Rector of the CEU,  the Europaeum wrote : “We feel that the principals of academic freedom are universal and essential, and all leading European universities must stand together in their defence.” The Europaeum is also offering to host an event at the CEU in Budapest. The CEU was formed in the wake of the collapse of the Iron Curtain and ‘re-unification’ of Europe and in time the Enlargement of the European Union, founded by the philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society network. It was founded in Prague, with our own Secretary-General as its founding CEO/Secretary-General, but by 1994 had moved to its current home in Budapest after a dispute with the Czech government.

Demos Helsinki

Demos Helsinki i

This is a think tank dedicated to the ‘smarter usage’ of human capabilities and natural resources. A central theme of Demos is democracy and capabilities, particularly analysis of the welfare-state model in Finland, which, though remarkably successful over the decades, has been ever-changing with new methodologies needed to adapt. Another key theme is resource-smart economies – focus on sustainable resource management is vital, and needs to incorporate balancing population growth, production and consumption. Recent publications include Humancentric governance through experiments, which examines the usage of behavioural approaches and experiments into government policies to make them more efficient; Refugees for co-creative cities, which argues for a re-thinking of the accommodation of refugees in Europe; and Scenarios for the future of work. Recent projects include a seminar series on immigration, and the Building Zero Waste Society project. Demos Helsinki was founded in 2005 and is entirely responsible for funding all of its own projects. The Director of Democracy and Capabilities is Johannes Koponen, and the Executive Director is Tuuli Kaskinen.

Paul Flather to step back from his role at the Europaeum

Paul Flather set to step back from key role 

After more than 15 years at the helm of the Europaeum association, having presided over its growth and development, Paul Flather will be stepping back from his key role this autumn.

He has helped pioneer many of its signature programmes and projects – the jointly-offered degree courses, one of which is to win Erasmus Mundus support; the international graduate workshops for advanced research students; the exiting week-long flagship summer schools; and the many academic mobility and exchange schemes, scholarships schemes and bursaries.

“I will miss so many aspects of the work,” Paul Flather says. ”But most of all working with so many lively and smart students from all over the world, not just Europe. The personal thanks, the warm feedback, even the tears and hugs at the end of our events, will be something I will be sure to cherish.”

“All good things must come to an end – and it is a time for a change for me, and, no doubt, for the Europaeum too.  It is now 25 years old now, the right moment to move on”, he adds.

He was first introduced to the Europaeum in the mid 1990s when he served as Director of International and External Affairs at the University of Oxford, when he first got to know Lord (George) Weidenfeld, the founding inspiration for the consortium, and they built up a very deep relationship – which continued after the Europaeum became an independent charity under UK law from 2000 and Paul Flather was appointed as founding Secretary-General after a job competition across all the members.

Paul recalls: “One of my highlights has been regular visits to discuss progress with George either in his office at Weidenfeld and Nicolson, or in his book lined office in Chelsea. He was always so full of energy, so flattering, dubbing me ‘the alchemist who watched over the growth of his first baby’!”

After the Europaeum, Lord Weidenfeld went on to help to initiate many more significant projects and programmes – including the Blavatnik School of Government, the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann scholarships scheme, the Club of Three, and the Institute of Strategic Dialogue.

Dr Flather began his professional life as a journalist, working variously for the BBC, Times Newspapers, the Times of India, and the New Statesman, before returning to Balliol to complete a national prize-winning D Phil (PhD) on Indian democracy, then being elected to run higher and further education at the London Council, before serving as the founding Secretary-General and CEO of the Central European University and various other Soros programmes in Central Europe, and then returning to Oxford to head up a new department. He has been a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, and now of Mansfield College.

The Europaeum began with three founding members, but now has 12 members, and extensive programmes including the Jenkins Scholarships scheme, the Oxford-Geneva and Oxford-Prague Study bursaries, the Brussels policy-making workshop, the International debates in Lisbon, the annual Classics colloquia and various research projects, joint MA programmes, and graduate workshop series, and the publication of journals, pamphlets, edited books and many reports.

Over these 25 years the Europaeum has benefitted some 5,000 graduates and engaged with some 1,000 experts and academics.    

“I have made many friends, been privileged to work on many beautiful university campuses; delighted in working with so many keen graduates. It has been an amazing roller-coaster of a journey.”

“There is a new climate abroad in Europe, forged out of the migration crisis, populist politics, Euro-scepticism, the legacy of the Eurozone crisis, and now Brexit and the arrival of President Trump. This means our agenda has in so many ways, grown. We owe it to George and our other founders to keep the Europaeum afloat.  I will, of course, continue to do my best to support all this.

Dr Flather will step down after the 25th anniversary meetings at the end of September, but will stay involved to direct some special projects and offer guidance for future work. He will focus on two other foundations he has been running in a voluntary capacity, editorial boards he serves on; taking up visiting academic posts, and writing projects. .  


Whose Europe ? Oxford conference report

This volume collects papers presented at a jointly organised international conference entitled “Whose Europe?: National Models and the Constitution of the European Union”, held in Oxford on 25-27 April 2003, hosted at St Antony’s College, with Europaeum support. The event brought together scholars involved in the field of European Studies at Oxford together with those from all over Europe and those who participated in the debates around the Convention, then gathering to work on the Future of Europe.

Download the Full Report

New joint MA in European Politics and Society to be launched

A formal new MA led by Charles University is to be launched in the autumn on European Politics and Society linked to other Europaeum universities, Leiden, Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, and the Jagellonian University Cracow. This follows the success of a bid to the European Commission to gain support and backing via Erasmus Mundus. The registering cohort of perhaps 20 graduates will begin their studies together at Charles University, and then continue their studies at one of the other partner universities. A joint diploma will be issued by the universities involved, as well as the Europaeum and graduates will be able to attend the well-known Spring School, which takes place each year at Oxford University. Professor Lenka Rovna and her team which has secured the EU support report that applications for this new programme are picking up very successfully. The course is an out-growth from the Europaeum’s Vaclav Havel Programme, which links Charles, Paris 1, Leiden together with Cracow and Barcelona set to join. It involves a first year at their host university and a third trimestre at a partner institution. The two programmes are set up to continue side by side with the new programme marking an important step forward in the Europaeum’s joint teaching initiative, serving as an ‘international university without walls’.

LEIDEN: Researchers find UK universities to suffer Brexit fallout

UK university-indstury links ‘set to suffer’ after Brexit

Large research-intensive universities in the UK are most at risk of having their collaborative links with industry damaged by Brexit, according to a report with the title UK Universities Interacting with Industry: Patterns of research collaboration and inter-sectoral mobility of academic researchers. This report was presented at the Centre for Global Higher Education’s annual conference on the 1st of March in London by Professor Robert Tijssen and Dr Alfredo Yegros from Leiden University. Together with a third author, Wout Lamers, also from Leiden, they have been measuring the relations between British universities and industry, with a particular focus on academic collaboration with companies based in other EU member states. They found that 24% of academic-industry connections among the 47 most research-active British universities were with companies in the EU, an average of 40% of the co-publications with foreign companies included at least one firm located in an EU member state. Speaking to University World News, Tijssen said: ‘There are several reasons why research links with European companies would be at risk from Brexit. In the case of European Commission-funded research, UK universities are likely to have less access to European Union funding and it will be harder for them to be research project coordinators. They might have to renew or renegotiate contractual arrangements, notably on intellectual property rights issues, that are now covered by standardised European R&D contracts that apply equally to all member states.’

Based on a story by Nic Mitchell (02-03-2017):

SUMMER SCHOOL : Graduates explore surge in populism

More than 35 graduates from all over Europe and beyond participated in our lively annual Europaeum Summer School held early in July in the historic Escorial Palace area near Madrid, focussing on the apparent crisis in democracy, particularly the rise of new populism, from the Left as well as the Right. Discussions covered the collapse of traditional political parties, broken leadership tropes, protest voting, the rise of the outsider, demagogues, independents, opprobrium against establishment elites, and the anti-politics against politicians and systems. Please see the final programme here and the full list of participants here. Among highlights were keynote talks from Professors Eva Anduiza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Anthony Arblaster (Sheffield/Oxford), Manuel Muñiz (IE University), Enrique Baron Crespo (former President of the European Parliament), David Ellwood (Bologna/SAIS); a public debate involving all participants, role playing, and working group reports. Please see here summary biographies of keynote speakers, and see abstracts of papers presented by graduates here. Feedback is very positive, and the Europaeum event is already deemed one of the highlights of the whole Escorial summer programme.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…

Summer is often about water, and one of our graduates on the Europaeum MA in European History programme took up the challenge literally every morning at 6 am for the first six weeks of his Oxford module of the course – rowing fifth seat for his Mansfield College Second VIII. Albert van Wijngaarden (pictured far right rowing and centre in the main picture) had never rowed before but found it exhilarating. His boat did well over the four days of summer inter-college competitions, avoiding been caught (bumped) by any following crew and managing to bump one boat in front. “It was just such a great experience.  Rowing gave me a unique insight into the real Oxford student life and I made loads of friends, he said. ” I finally understood the obsession when we passed the boathouses, where thousands of people, standing three lines deep, cheered us on,” he added. Row on !