In August 2016 I was awarded by the European Commission (as part of the ERASMUS+ programme) a prestigious Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration. This Chair award – and the first at Queen’s University Belfast since the early 2000s - followed a successful application on a proposal that sought to communicate Europe and is designed to develop, deliver and expand teaching and research on the European Union at Queen’s University Belfast as well as using the Jean Monnet chair to communicate Europe to wider civil society. Communicating Europe was the theme behind
I am honoured to hold this award as it illustrates my knowledge and expertise in the EU (built up from the early 1990s).
I had wanted to use the award to develop greater awareness of the European Union in Northern Ireland both within the university and outside it. The EU has played an instrumental role in Northern Ireland’s most recent history and peace agreement, but I was not convinced that people fully understood its actual role let alone the EU’s origins and purpose, its structures and credentials. This was the purpose behind the planned activities.
I wanted to assist the development of the EU in the university curriculum and take the subject area into the school curricula and explain what the EU is, what it does and consider how well it operates as a legitimate, transparent and democratic political entity. This trajectory of activities was all predicated on the assumption that the UK would vote on 23 June 2016 to remain in the EU.
I received the award two months after the UK public voted to leave the European Union. This vote has turned out to be a real game changer. Suddenly (and for me unexpectedly) Brexit has become the dominant theme of my activities and is now expected to take up the teaching, research and communication activities of the three years of the Jean Monnet chair ahead. However, in a different way and manner than originally anticipated.
This page is designed to highlight my activities and to show how even the road to Brexit has allowed me to develop, deliver and expand teaching on the European Union, conduct new research on Brexit and engage with wider civil society. It has been a very busy time.
All this work continues beyond 2019. The UK is still a part of Europe and there are still many more questions ahead. I will continue to keep teaching, researching and communicating Europe.
You can find more information on the project Communicating Europe through Learning and Teaching (CELTTUS), or you can view my more expansive profile.