Politics of European Cooperation

The theory and practices of European integration


(from the introductory section of the 2020 syllabus)

The 2016 Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom highlighted many of questions still confounding observers of European integration even after more than 60 years of development. Does disaster threaten the EU from all sides, while a glorious future awaits those who abandon ship? Or does does leaving the EU doom a country to a painful economic and political hangover? In other words, what does the EU really mean to its members? How badly do they need it (if at all)? And, taking a step back, how can we best go about answering these questions?

The urgency of doing so is all the greater now that the United Kingdom is indeed set to leave the European Union just one week into our class! What is likely to happen to the United Kingdom once it leaves? And what will happen to the EU?

This course provides an overview of the history, the political institutions, the decision-making processes and people’s views of the European Union. The emphasis throughout will be on understanding why member states, alone or together, made particular choices about further (or lesser) integration. By the end of the course, you will have a thorough knowledge of the European Union, as well as an understanding of how our theories of comparative and international politics help explain policy choices and developments in the EU. In addition, you’ll be able to make an informed judgment about whether “ever closer union” (as called for in the EU’s foundational texts) is a good or bad idea.


I most recently offered this course in the Spring of 2020. The COVID-adjusted syllabus can be downloaded by clicking here.