Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - UCL CENTRE FOR EU ST (Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary European Studies)

This project, based at the Centre for European Studies (CES) at University College London has been unique in offering graduate students the opportunity to investigate Europe in its entirety in a multi-disciplinary context. The project's objectives were to train students to become full-time academic researchers and teachers through the attainment of necessary qualifications for pursuing such a career. Two types of research training were offered.

First, graduates opted for intensive training by means of a series of interlocking taught courses on one of the European Master's programmes. The European programmes offered were: MA in European Society, MA in European Culture, MA in European History, and MA in European Thought. All these programmes combined skills, theory, survey and special subject courses, which were designed to complement each other and to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge and methodologies to undertake doctoral research. Second, graduates could choose to do a PhD, under the close supervision of two specialists in their field. Here, a very wide range of subjects and disciplines were involved, including literature, philosophy, history, and social and political studies, with a focus on areas ranging right across northern, eastern, southern and western Europe, and across time periods.

Unique to this project was thus the sheer breadth of what it offered. Whereas most European Studies programmes concentrate exclusively on contemporary European politics, this project provided interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training in a wide range of fields, which is vital for enhancing our understanding of European integration and public policy, and of contemporary European history from the various perspectives of member states with differing social and cultural traditions. Linguistic and area expertise is also vital to such study. The outcomes served to enhance in-depth knowledge and understanding of many aspects of Europe's cultural and social diversity, past and present.

In order to prevent such study becoming too diffuse, the CES project created coherent pathways of 'European' core courses, to which students could add optional courses from different disciplines and areas. They were then encouraged to build on such a broad interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary foundation at doctoral level.

This type of training matches trends within Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in EU, North American and other universities at undergraduate level, in which European Studies and other multidisciplinary programmes are becoming more and more popular. In many subjects, combined-honours students already constitute a majority and, partly as a result, teachers are required to become experts in more than one field or discipline. Thus the CES Early Stage Training aimed to equip researchers and future teachers to meet the new intellectual and vocational demands of these multidisciplinary undergraduate degrees. For this reason all PhD early researchers were offered teaching experience and were able to build up a teaching portfolio to facilitate their career progression.

Throughout the project, the emphasis was on the selection of those with the best academic records, a proven aptitude for research, and an interest in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary study within the broad remit of the CES, from European public policy, theory, and history, to European literature, film, and cultural studies. The project has thus been able to fund 12 of the most talented researchers in multidisciplinary European studies and to launch up to 24, via Master's training, on a career in the same field. Most fellows participated in international conferences and workshops, and many were successful in publishing research.

The project therefore has already had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on research in and teaching of European studies throughout the EU and beyond.

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