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· · · · · · · Research strategy from ACEuS · · · · · · · Aalborg Center for European Studies
ACEuS is a newly founded research group within the department of Culture and Global Studies (CGS) at Aalborg University in its formative stages . Hitherto, ACEuS and its final structure will be formalised throughout 2017-2018.
Lise Rolandsen Agustín (associate professor), Søren Dosenrode (professor MSO), Laura Landorff (assistant professor), Anita Nissen (PhD fellow) and Wolfgang Zank (associate professor) are all members of the department of Culture and Global Studies and constitute the core of ACEuS.
In addition, Anette Borchorst (professor) and Mads Peter Klindt (associate professor) from the AAU department of Political Science participate in meetings when available. Members of Development and International Relations (DIR) are also invited to join ACEuS meetings.
Likewise, members of ACEuS participate in the establishment and development of a new departmental network related to Transnational Studies.
ACEuS conducts research on the actors, organisation, functioning and institutions of the European Union. ACEuS incorporates the CGS 2016-2021 strategy by focusing on global governance structures and the global role of the European Union. Furthermore, this strategy is consistently pursued in cooperation with national and international partners, alongside committed dissemination of ACEuS research.
Thus, the specific aims of ACEuS are to:
- Support interdisciplinary research to the highest level
- Secure external funding for activities and research projects
- Engage with societal debates on Denmark’s role in the EU
- Promote international cooperation (e.g. through RGEPS, the Research Group of European Policy studies)
- Contribute to ‘European Union’ teaching at CGS, including the MA programme of European Studies as well as in adjoining programmes such as Language and International Studies and Development and International Relations.
The centers’ expertise focuses on five core areas:
- Historical Context of the EU (Søren Dosenrode, Wolfgang Zank)
- Theories and Conceptual Approaches to Regional and European Integration (Lise Rolandsen Agustin, Søren Dosenrode, Laura Landorff, Wolfgang Zank)
• Theory of regional integration
• Political Sociology in European Integration
- EU Institutions & Actors (Lise Rolandsen Agustin, Søren Dosenrode, Laura Landorff, Anita Nissen)
• The European institutions
• European Parliament, MEPs, political parties
• Civil society & social movements
- EU Policies, Politics and Policy-Making (focus on EU’s external relations and economic policies) (Lise Rolandsen Agustin, Søren Dosenrode, Laura Landorff, Anita Nissen, Wolfgang Zank)
• EU Policy Analysis (in general)
• EU’s External Relations
- Research Methods in European Union Studies (Lise Rolandsen Agustin, Søren Dosenrode, Laura Landorff, Anita Nissen)
ACEuS members are trained in various disciplines including history, political science and law, favouring a research methodology that studies the EU through an inter- and multidisciplinary approach by drawing on analytical strategies from across the social sciences.
In doing so, ACEuS maintains its membership’s close relationship to the interdisciplinary and international European Studies MA programme at AAU. Furthermore, these five core areas of interest are seen as potential hotbeds for cooperation and opportunities to obtain external funding.
Basic activities include:
- Regular research seminars (three times per semester)
- Participation at annual workshops and conferences at both the national and international level (e.g. the annual DSE and ECPR conferences) as well as within the framework of the RGEPS (next time: ECPR in Hamburg 2018 and/or AAU)
- Publications & Fundraising
Relationship between teaching and research
The group’s key members serve as the core staff of European Studies (ES), a two-year master programme at AAU. ES aims to give students a theoretical knowledge of economic and political developments in Europe, alongside insights into the institutions and processes of the European Union. Students also analyse economic, social, cultural or political aspects of developments in Europe through an interdisciplinary approach. There is in this respect a one-to-one relationship between the research of core staff and teaching in European Studies. Concretely, core staff offer modules in: The European Union’s external role; EU law and institutions; EU politics and economics; Regional integration and regionalisation; and Theories of international politics. In addition to European Studies, core staff also participate in and teach Development and International Relations; Political Science & Administration; and Language and International Studies at AAU.
Key ACEuS members specifically coordinate the European Studies (ES) MA and modules in the related Development and International Relations (DIR) programme, including constant evaluation and development alongside representation on the Board of Studies for International Affairs. A concrete example is the implementation of a new ‘EU Methods Seminar’ for the autumn 2017 semester, approved by the Board of Studies following its proposal by ACEuS/ES members in spring 2017.
Within the next three to five years the European Studies programme will be evaluated thoroughly, taking the development of the employment market into consideration. Based on input from institutions and firms employing ES graduates (municipalities, ministries, lobbying firms, companies), core staff will consider alterations to the modules in order to secure high quality students and increase their employment prospects.
Cooperation with external, non-academic partners
In the future ACEuS will strive for cooperation with key regional and national EU representatives, such as the municipalities of Northern Jutland and NordDanmarks EU-kontor, as well as European Movement Denmark - the European Parliament Information Office in Denmark (Copenhagen).
Networks and Co-operation
The members of ACEuS participate in a number of professional networks, below is a short description of those where two or more of the core members participate on a regular basis.
- Dansk Selskab for Europaforskning (DSE)
“The Danish European Community Studies Association (ECSA-DK) was formed in 1976 with the ambition of supporting and inspiring discussions about Europe in Denmark.
ECSA-DK has two official goals.
ECSA-DK supports research and teaching on all aspects of European cooperation – administrative, political, legal, economic and social. The focus is on the European Union, but other organisations and relations are also relevant.
ECSA-DK also supports cooperation between ECSA-DK members and organisations with similar goals.
ECSA-DK organises meetings, including the annual meeting. During the meetings members can present research and participate in debates. At the annual meeting one or more guests are invited to promote a debate on a particular Europe-related topic. The guests are typically either international researchers or Danish politicians or civil servants.” (DSE Homepage)
As mentioned, the annual meeting is a core activity of DSE, which in 2017 has been organised by ACEuS and will take place in October.
- The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)
ECPR is an independent scholarly association, established in 1970. Its 350 institutional members across approximately 50 countries represent the leading universities, students and senior academics in political science teaching and research worldwide. Members of ACEuS regularly participate and are planning a panel at the Hamburg General Conference in cooperation with RGEPS (see below). ACEuS members are also members of several CPR Standing Groups (e.g. on Federalism and Regionalism, on Political Sociology, Parliaments, European Union, Political Representation, and Knowledge and Governance [research network]).
- Research Group for European Studies (RGEPS)
RGEPS is an inter-university network. The aim of RGEPS is to promote interdisciplinary research in EU-policy (broadly understood and including the EU’s foreign affairs), to intensify scholarly exchange between the members and to spread knowledge of developments in the European Union.
The founding members are: University Institute of European Studies (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Centre for Comparative Integration Studies, Department of Cultural and Global Studies (Aalborg University), Centre for European Studies (Department of Public Administration, University of Twente), and Division of Political Science - Department of Management and Engineering (University of Linköping).
A research board consisting of a representative from each partner unit leads the consortium. Aalborg conducts the secretarial function and daily administration (hosting and up-dating homepage etc.). RGEPS will also plan a joint panel at the 2018 ECPR General Conference.
- The association for contemporary European Studies (UACES)
UACES is the academic association for Contemporary European Studies. It is a membership organisation for academics, students and practitioners who are interested in all aspects of Europe and the European Union (http://uaces.org/about/). Membership with UACES provides members of ACEuS, inter alia, with the opportunity to seek small event grants and funding for collaborative research networks.
Currently core ACEuS members are in the formative planning phase, exploring two specific ideas for externally funded projects. If these ideas prove as promising as they appear, a research council-application will be submitted in 2018. A first draft of an application is expected to be presented at the DSE-conference in October 2017, or at an ACEuS research seminar thereafter.
The strategy of ACEuS primarily focuses on article publication in international peer-reviewed journals, either as an individual contribution or as special issues. Moreover, members of ACEuS appreciate the virtues of the tightly edited anthology and will, from time to time, make use of such an approach. In addition, Søren Dosenrode is the serial editor of the Routledge ‘Federalism Studies’ series, providing ACEuS with an excellent channel to the publishing house.
A central part of ACEuS activities are research seminars where members present their latest research. De facto, these seminars function as informal peer review, where publication forms a natural part of the discussion.
In line with ACEuS’ stated mission to contribute to field-relevant societal discussion, members are also often interviewed or provide articles to the most important regional news source, Nordjyske Stiftstidende.
Support from the department
- Financial and organisational support for annual/bi-annual conferences & workshops
- CGS project secretariat for applications (e.g. Julie Skibsted Larsen and Helle Weiergang)
- Language revision in terms of publications
The key modus operandi of the ACEuS is its research seminar, which is conducted three times each semester. It provides members of the group with the opportunity to present and discuss their work: including papers, early drafts and research proposals, whilst receiving valuable feedback from colleagues.
In addition, there is one ‘administrative session’ per semester. The purpose of this session is to discuss applications for funding, workshops, participation in conferences and the development of the European Studies programme.
Presently, one PhD-student (Anita Nissen) is affiliated with ACEuS. She is a full member of the group and participates on an equal footing but is exempt from the administrative duties.
Plan of activity 2017
23rd May: Research seminar. Wolfgang Zank: The European Union as the Second Superpower?
31st May: Strategy meeting
16th June: Research seminar. Laura Landorff: Intergroups as Informational Capital of MEPs
September 13th: Visit by Friis Arne Petersen
September: DIR Workshop on BRICS (participation by WZ and SD)
4th and 5th October: DSE conference (the whole group participates; 2 panels, one by LL and one by SD)
September: Research seminar. Søren Dosenrode: Europeanization of Danish policies
Two more research seminars in the autumn semester 2017.
Workshop in March 2018: Defending Europe!