EU politics, European history, European society, European culture


Experiencing Europe

The continent of Europe is much more than a geographically defined area, it is a phenomenon in the historical, cultural, social and political sense, hence the extensive discussion on Europeannes in European studies brings many questions and even more answers. In a classic study by Zygmunt Bauman we read about Europe as an unfinished adventure, which in the course of its history is being permanently redefined, and which constantly modifies, creates and tests original solutions and experiments, drawing on its history and experience, but taking into account the challenges of international modernity.

The premise of this FORTHEM Lab is to cover analysis and scientific reflection on many dimensions and levels of Europeanness, ranging from historical and political aspects to social and cultural issues that create new definition contexts for Europe. In the Lab, the research focus will be mainly focused on the European Union as an unprecedented successful experiment in a number of areas, but because the EU does not operate in a vacuum, research optics will also include issues related to its European and non-European environment.

Planned outputs of the Lab and current work in progress

Outputs of Experiencing Europe Lab aim at grasping various levels of Europeanness therefore within the Lab the members are planning shorter- and longer-time period projects. The current projects embrace:

Winter school entitled “Different aspects of (feeling of) belonging or non-belonging to Europe/the EU”, initiated by University of Jyväskylä Contact Person Tuuli Lähdesmäki.

The aspects could include e.g. research on:

· populist versus pro-European views on the notion of Europe and the European;

· the notions of Europe and the European in political rhetoric and action in national parliaments or polity;

· EU discourse and actions on Europe and the European;

· the position of minorities and migrants in Europe and their views on belonging to Europe;

· notions on so called refugee crisis, rights to asylum and language of asylum;

· different aspects of diversities, othering, borders and bordering in Europe;

· common cultural space in Europe and discourse of European cultural heritage, history, and memory;

· representations and narratives on Europe and the European in (social) media, culture, and art;

· hate speech

Photo Exhibition entitled “My Europe”, initiated by University of Jyväskylä Contact Person, Tuuli Lähdesmäki

The idea of this project is to organize in all participating partner universities a small workshop for students in which they are advised to take photographs of such environments/phenomena that represent Europe for them and discuss their notions of Europe. The project will be based on a comprehensive way to explore, reflect, and impact Europe, stemming from visual elicited data and the core themes of Experiencing Europe Lab. It utilizes students’ personal representations of Europe as the canvas for researching, teaching and outreaching within three main perspectives: the educational, the critical and the political. The objectives of the project are to encourage a dynamic dialogue on Europe and European values among students; to facilitate cooperation among the partner universities; to reinforce ties between countries; to discuss obstacles and tackle challenges towards inclusive Europe; support creative teaching and research methods; and to approach diversity as enrichment.

Online Course for FORTHEM Digital Academy entitled “European Entrepreneurship”, initiated by University of Opole Contact Person Robert Geisler

In future perspective Experiencing Europe Lab plans to launch a lasting project titled “Europeans toward Europe” that aims at permanent diagnosing various levels and determinants of different European actors’ approaches and perceptions of Europe and definition of Europeanness.

Lab contact information

Alliance level Contact Persons

University of Opole, Poland Assistant Professor Barbara Curyło
University of Opole, Poland Associate Professor Robert Geisler

University level Contact Persons

Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany Professor Arne Niemann
University of Jyväskylä, Finland Associate Professor Tuuli Lähdesmäki
University of Jyväskylä, Finland Senior Lecturer Vasileios Syros
University of Burgundy, France Vice Dean Hélène Tourard
University of Palermo, Italy Associate Professor Antonio Lavieri
University of Latvia, Riga Professor Inna Steinbuka
University of Latvia, Riga Lecturer Marcis Dzelme
University of València, Spain Assistant Professor María Tórres Pérez


Associated partner contributing to the Lab

House of Polish–German Cooperation,

Highlighted events of the Lab

Experiencing Europe Lab introduced its works on 5–6th May during the International Kick-Off Meeting, which was chaired by the University of Opole. The meeting started with the introduction of FORTHEM Experiencing Europe Lab by Dr. Barbara Curyło (Alliance Level Contact Person), followed by the presentation of FORTHEM Labs by Dr. Tamás Péter Szabó (Scientific Manager for FORTHEM Lab Actions.)

On 5th May, one session of the meeting was designated for presenting seven Experiencing Europe Local Labs within all partner universities, after which the most hoped-for session took place – brainstorming. Participants took part in defining common denominators, discussing ideas, reflecting on common actions as well as diagnosing essential challenges in European public sphere for Experiencing Europe Lab research.

6th May began with stating and scheduling tasks of Experiencing Europe Lab, defining modus operandi of Experiencing Europe Lab and scheduling next Experiencing Europe Lab Alliance level meetings.