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Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence “Laboratories of Differentiated Integration in a Post-Brexit Europe“ 

As the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) hails in a new era, the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (JMCoE) “Laboratories of Differentiated Integration in a Post-Brexit Europe“ aims to foster our understanding of Post-Brexit Europe by studying two laboratories of differentiated integration. We focus our research, teaching, and outreach activities on Europe’s North and East – two regions which encompass the entire spectrum of differentiated integration arrangements. Both regions are also uniquely exposed to new geopolitical challenges as they share a border with a resurgent Russia while the American commitment to NATO is thrown into doubt. These laboratories of differentiation thus offer important lessons on how a Post-Brexit Europe may respond to both challenges to its internal cohesiveness and new external threats. 

Brexit and the related question of the UK’s future relations with the EU have led to a renewed interest in the varied integration arrangements among Norwegian policymakers, businesses, civil society groups, and citizens. Our activities thus bring European Studies to new audiences, offering new teaching modules to students of various backgrounds and engaging citizens through formats such as the ‘Saturday University’ and Podcasts.  

The JMCoE will promote excellence in research in EU studies by fostering collaborative dynamics among the Centre’s twelve key staff and beyond. The Centre will help to create synergies in research by bringing together researchers with different regional foci as well as various disciplinary backgrounds, such as Political Science, Sociology, Law, and Economics. Members of the key staff will co-author and co-edit several academic publications during the duration of the JMCoE. In addition, the JMCoE aims at building an interdisciplinary network of researchers working on questions of differentiated European integration with a focus on the Nordic countries. The kick-off event for the new network will be an interdisciplinary conference where academics and policymakers from all Nordic countries meet to discuss the Future of Europe.  

Based on excellent research, the JMCoE will also promote excellence in teaching EU related subjects. This will provide students with new interdisciplinary insights on European integration. The JMCoE will thus further improve the EU related teaching activities at the UiA that were successfully built up in previous Jean Monnet activities and will make them even more attractive to current and prospective students. 

Moreover, a main objective of the proposed JMCoE is to foster the dialogue between EU scholars from various disciplines and policy-makers. Various planned events, such as the “Meet the ambassador” format involving the Head of the EU Delegation to Norway, will foster the exchange between key staff experts and policy-makers. The JMCoE will also reach out to organised civil society and the larger public. It will actively take part in various existing and new formats establishing links between the academic world and the public, such as the Arendalsuka. Some outreach formats are particularly modelled to attract pupils to topics of European integration. In the framework of “Meet an Agder researcher”, members of the key staff will visit local schools and familiarise pupils with EU-Norway relations. In turn, pupils will visit the Department of Political Science and Management during the “Eilert Sundt Day”. Furthermore, the JMCoE will produce animated short videos on topics of European integration, which can be watched by school children throughout the country. 

The JMCoE, established under the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme, is the first in Norway. It is based at UiA’s Department of Political Science and Management and involves a collaboration with colleagues from the Department of Sociology and Social Work, Department of Law, and the School of Business and Law. It will run from November 2020 to November 2023.