The idealized vision of a united Europe is coming under assault. Migrants and refugees challenge Europe’s “open-door” policy; ethnic minorities demand equality while others seek independence; and ultra-nationalist groups and populist parties are bursting into the political mainstream.
This distinctive semester, launched in 2017, in association with Global Knowledge, LLC, equips students with a unique lens to closely examine the myriad challenges facing the vision of a united Europe. Can it remain a borderless Union, or rather, should new veiled borders be erected to keep out foreigners who do not share Europe’s religious and racial identities? How can the European Union maintain its democratic and pluralistic ethos in light of these challenges?
Hungary’s capital has been voted in 2019 as the “best travel destination in Europe.” The city offers a multitude of venues for visitors, including a mixture of old and modern world architecture, a richly textured history and culture, and a welcoming ambiance.
Hungary’s self-proclaimed illiberal-democratic government is playing a distinctive role in this European debate given its opposition to allowing asylum-seekers unrestricted entry into the continent. Hungary’s highly vibrant civil society, however, where our students work as volunteer-interns, is attempting, albeit with limited success, to moderate the regime’s unrelenting policies by promoting human rights, equality, and democracy. Spending a semester in Budapest, therefore, offers students an unparalleled opportunity to closely examine contemporary European society and politics.
The program revolves around three distinct but interrelated themes: nationalism and national identity; the role of minorities – especially the Roma – and inter-ethnic conflict; and the sociology and politics of global migration.
Further, existing tensions between sovereignty and local nationalism on the one hand, and transnationalism on the other, as well as the growing controversy over the future viability of the European Union form the intellectual foundations of this academic program.