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About the Jean Monnet Chair

The Jean Monnet Chair in Parliamentary Democracy and European Integration aims to enhance and expand teaching in and research on the European Union, with a focus on parliamentary democracy and its centrality in European integration. 

BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE

Parliamentary democracy is seen as a victim of European integration because the latter entails the ‘transfer’ to EU institutions of powers that national parliaments used to exercise. On the other hand, it is also seen as a response to the problems of legitimacy and accountability generated by European integration (empowerment of the EP, the need for national parliaments to be better informed, more closely associated with EU-level decision making).

The central objective of this Monnet Chair's teaching and research activities is to apply the theory and methodology of EU and comparative institutional analysis and involve practitioners from both the domestic and the European level, students, as well as civil society organisations. The activities consist of three university modules, an annual Jean Monnet lecture, roundtables involving practitioners, academics and researchers and an annual event for school teachers, coupled with research activities.

In terms of outcomes, the involvement of experienced high-profile EU and national practitioners, in addition to academics and other researchers, aims to improve the pedagogic effect, promote excellence and innovation in teaching and research in EU studies, expand Birkbeck students' access to EU studies (including in departments beyond the Department of Politics) and increase the visibility of academic-related procedures by making them available to the wider public. Further outcomes include the diffusion of knowledge about the realities of governing within and beyond the state, and the challenges that parliamentary democracy faces therein. 

AIMS 

DEEPEN TEACHING IN EU STUDIES AT BIRKBECK

  • This will be done through the expansion of the topics included in the curriculum but also via dialogue and learning-focused synergies between both academia and practitioners, through the involvement in the proposed activities of MPs and MEPs, experienced senior participants in the operation of the EU at the European and national levels of government in close collaboration with new researchers as well as members of civil society and think tanks.

FOSTER EXCELLENCE AND INNOVATION IN TEACHING AND RESEARCH

  • This will be achieved through the combination of: 
    • the theory and methodology of EU and comparative institutional analysis so as to promote a deeper understanding of how the EU operates and the role of parliamentary institutions therein
    • in-depth analysis of the EU institutional system and the policy process, both in their formal and informal guises
    • an extensive comparative analysis at undergraduate level of how the domestic institutions of various member states have experienced EU membership, participate in it and how member states relate to the process of integration in terms of their preferred ‘visions’ in connection to its future development (what kind of EU do they want and why?)
    • the use of online tools and other learning tools
    • the joint presence of practitioners, academics and researchers (in open events also involving the public) so as to share their expertise in a complementary manner.

ENGAGEMENT WITH CIVIC LIFE

  • This Jean Monnet Chair seeks to blend the learning process and the outward-looking duties of a higher education institution that fosters engagement with civic life, with academic expertise and the practical experience of parliamentarians and officials who are familiar with the cutting edge of ‘applied politics’ and decision-making praxis. 
  • This blending offers students and, via the open events, the broader public the opportunity to move away from often simplistic analyses of complex decision making and equip themselves with the kind of nuance that is not normally available in the public domain. 
  • This is crucial for a different kind of legitimacy, i.e. one that is based on an in-depth knowledge of how political institutions actually operate and the dilemmas that those who work for them face on a daily basis but also in conditions of acute crisis. In addition to a better understanding of the intricacies of political decision making in the context of an evolving EU, this kind of knowledge is likely to foster more active participation and a greater sense that in addition to rights, citizenship involves duties. 
  • Last but not least, this is the kind of learning experience that promotes the acquisition of skills that are critical in the professional domain both in the private and the public sector

MAKE EU STUDIES MORE APPEALING

  • We aim to provide access to but also make EU studies more appealing, precisely because of the experience-based element and the additional emphasis on the domestic dimension described above, both to Politics students and students in other disciplines (e.g. History, Languages) who will therefore be tempted to study the EU in greater detail.

INVOLVE DOCTORAL STUDENTS

  • We're looking to involve doctoral students (new researchers in EU studies) in events as speakers or discussants and help broaden their access to a whole array of officials who have direct experience from the operation of the EU in their respective fields of research and can provide feedback in relation to new doctoral research.

SUPPORT ACADEMIC RESEARCH IN EU STUDIES

  • The Jean Monnet Chair will facilitate the production of new research in relation to the EU’s parliamentarisation. 

INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES TO STUDY THE EU

  • We aim to do this by strengthening Birkbeck’s ability not only to attract more students but also offer them a more in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the challenges of European integration and to diversify its offering in this subject matter at undergraduate level.

THE JEAN MONNET CHAIR'S LOGO

  • The Chair's logo was designed by Ms Maria Zampara and combines the EU's flag with a depiction of the political make-up of the European Parliament right after the 1979 European elections. The latter was chosen because it was the first time MEPs were elected directly and this event marked a major step in the process of parliamentarisation, i.e. democratisation, of the then European Communities. 
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