“The Europaeum is more needed today than at any time in the past.”
Senator Vaclav Hampl, Czech Republic
“We need European intellectuals who can give us the whole picture of Europe.”
Our mission today is to give the most talented, most energetic and most socially committed students within the Europaeum network the opportunities to develop professional qualities to shape the future of Europe for the better.
When you look out of the window, what do you see – buildings, cars, people? What you do not see is the glass! Think about how it was to live before the invention of glass.
And what is the “glass” for Europe? It is the Rule of Law and the set of institutions, ideas and values handed down to us from the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. This is the conceptual framework that has shaped the modern western world. These are the ideas that replaced superstition with science, dogma with reason, fate with free will, and authority on high with the moral choice of the individual. All those aspects of living which have enormous value, but which go largely unnoticed.
These ideas have spread across the globe but, their origins are European. Aristotle was Greek, Spinoza – Dutch/Portuguese, Rousseau – a French-speaking Genevois, Descartes, Montesquieu and Voltaire – French, Kant – German, Locke – English, Hume and Smith – Scottish. Today, these ideas are threatened, inter alia, by populism, prejudices, fake news and conspiracy theories. And, on the wider stage, Europe faces challenges from pandemics, growing inequalities, and climate change.
The member universities of the Europaeum have unanimously agreed that, far from re-trenching, this is the time to build on the foundations we have established, to reassert our values and enhance our inter-connectedness. This is why the Europaeum exists. We need more, not less, emphasis on universities engaging with the wider society, more, not less, international collaboration, and more not less, drawing together of the disciplines.
In recent years, the Europaeum has structured its activities around three themes:
European History & Culture
European Liberal Democracy & Citizen Engagement
These three themes reflect our focus on students whose disciplines lie primarily (if not exclusively) in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Some events sit squarely within a single theme (such as Classics Colloquium in the first or the Brussels Policy Seminar in the second), while others straddle two or three. They form the foundation of the Europaeum’s philosophy of facilitating and encouraging critical and innovative thinking about Europe and European identity. Across all three themes, we study societal problems and how they might be tackled. Almost inevitably, this requires a multidisciplinary approach – which many Europaeum students find so exciting and so different from much of their traditional academic study. Linguists have to talk to lawyers, economists to historians, sociologists to philosophers and all of these to practitioners and policy-makers to help us understand more about Europe’s culture, politics and people and what might be done to make Europe a better place.
The following opportunities are offered on a regular basis to achieve these goals:
Our flagship 2-year policy and leadership course, open, via competition, to some thirty of the best doctoral candidates within the Europaeum network and taken alongside an existing doctorate.
Events & Activities
Workshops, seminars, conferences and debates, open to any student currently enrolled at one of the member universities.
Three Europaeum joint degrees, awarded by member universities, giving students the opportunity to spend study time at different universities during their enrolment.
Bursaries & Exchanges
The Europaeum supports a small number of exchanges every year, with the generous help and cooperation of selected member universities and external donors.
The idea for the Europaeum was initially suggested to Lord (Roy) Jenkins in 1991 by Lord Weidenfeld and Sir Ronnie Grierson. Roy Jenkins had just become Chancellor of the University of Oxford, having been the first President of the European Commission, and he rapidly saw the merits of the plan. The network came into being in 1992 with an initial membership of Oxford, Leiden and Bologna.
The network soon expanded to include Bonn University (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn) 1996; Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) 1997; the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies 1998; Charles University, Prague, 2001; Complutense University of Madrid 2003; Helsinki University 2004; and the Jagiellonian University, Kraków, 2005.
Pompeu-Fabra University (Barcelona) joined in 2012, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 2015.
Initially, Oxford played the lead role, with the Europaeum run from within the University. However, as the Europaeum grew so its governance adjusted. An early development was the creation of the Europaeum Academic Council, composed mainly of Rectors of the member universities, to oversee the academic work; and, in 2003, Dr Paul Flather was appointed Secretary-General to organise its activities. Full independence from Oxford came in 2004, when the Europaeum became a UK registered Charity (Number 1105477) and a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (Number 04639157), overseen by a distinguished set of Trustees drawn from across Europe.
A second major expansion of the Europaeum took place in the years 2016 to 2021. Dr Andrew Graham, the Chair of the Academic Council, was appointed as part-time Executive Chair and under his leadership a two-year Europaeum Scholars Programme for doctoral students was funded and launched, work began on an alumni relations network and Dr Hartmut Mayer took over (part-time) from Dr Flather overseeing a re-focusing of student activities and an expansion of membership. As a result, the Europaeum grew from ten full members in 2016 to eighteen full members by 2021.
The new members were the University of Luxembourg (2017), the University of St Andrews (2018), KU Leuven (2018), the Catholic University of Lisbon (2019, expanding the previous associate membership of the Institute for Political Studies), the University of Copenhagen (2019), Freie Universität, Berlin (2019), the University of Bologna (re-joined in 2019) and Tartu University (2021). The Central European University (Budapest/Vienna) was added as a special member for a limited period in recognition and support of their circumstances.
In 2020, Dr Marcin Walecki became full time Director, Dr Mayer moved to be Executive Chair (part-time) and Dr Graham was appointed a Trustee.