Europe Today Lecture Series


As part of our continued efforts to bring together experts with a diverse perspective to discuss contemporary issues facing Europe, European Studies Center is conducting a Spring Virtual Lecture Series entitled Europe Today. Each session is recorded and later posted on the internet with suggested additional readings and further resources.




Steve Lund, University of Pittsburgh
"Norway’s Version of the American Dream"

The Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, recently stated that “the American dream can be achieved best in the Nordic countries.” For many who consider the economic and social mobility of the American Dream to belong uniquely to the United States, it can be surprising and illustrative to learn that other countries may have found better strategies for helping their citizens realize them. Focusing on Norway as a representative example of the Nordic Model of economic development and welfare, this lecture will consider what opinion surveys reveal about American and Norwegian citizens’ attitudes towards their respective systems, and how “freedom and mobility” may be particularly defined in each country as a result.       



Andrzej Ceglarz , Technical University Munich, Germany
"European Energy Transition - Development Pathways, Challenges and Opportunities"

For more than three decades, the European Union has been recognized as a world leader in the fight against global warming and climate change. Climate policy has become a dominant issue on the EU's environmental agenda and has gradually been integrated into other policy areas, most notably energy policy. In terms of climate and energy policy, the EU has developed the most advanced and comprehensive regulatory framework in the world, which includes both EU-wide policies and targets to be achieved by Member States. Taken together, these policies and targets serve to advance the energy transition – a process aimed at transforming Europe's energy sector from fossil fuel-based to zero-carbon, mainly through the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. However, the process is uneven in the different Member States. This lecture will present the development of European climate and energy policy, in the context of global climate politics. It will also illustrate different trajectories for the development of renewable energy policies, comparing two different case studies: Poland and Germany. Finally, it will discuss the current challenges of further developing the energy transition in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.


European Studies Center
Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
University Center for International Studies

Radical Populism and its Challenge to European Democracy: Insights from Austria

Reinhard Heinisch
University of Salzburg

The emergence of radical populism has impacted both established democracies, such as the United Kingdom when we think of Brexit, and new democracies, such as Hungary and Poland. Populist actors have also played a role in the COVID pandemic and in the context of Russia's war on Ukraine, as they mobilize people against mainstream policies that attempt to manage these crises. This talk will demonstrate that populism is closely related to the decline in legitimacy of established institutions and traditional elites in times of social and economic change. Drawing especially on the case of Austria, where radical populism has been long established, the lecture and discussion will provide an overview of this phenomenon and the state of political science research.

Forging Consensus in Crisis: Changing Macro-Economic Regimes and European Integration

Matthias Matthijs
Johns Hopkins University

During the 2010s, the European project suffered a series of crises that underlined both a shift in geopolitics as well as the decline of the previous consensus around the single market and the single currency. The decade showed the different attitudes of national elites towards the reigning consensus and the limits of the EU’s macroeconomic regime that was no longer compatible with Europe’s diverse national growth models. The four biggest EU member states – all G7 members – had radically different responses to the crisis. The UK voted to leave the EU (“exit”). France wanted more EU sovereignty, while Italy wanted to regain some of its national sovereignty, though both wanted more EU solidarity (“voice”). Germany, for its part, long doubled down onthe status quo and insisted on further strengthening the existing rules (“loyalty”). The response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine was qualitatively different from previous crises in the 2010s, in that it started to give shape to EU "strategic autonomy.” The decisions the EU has made in the past few years show the emergence of a new EU paradigm, which has the potential to give the European project a new lease on life.

Identity, Nation Building and the War in Ukraine

Oxana Shevel
Tufts University

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine’s spirited and effective resistance caught many observers by surprise amidst expectations of Russia’s quick victory. This talk will focus on the profound identity transformation within the Ukrainian society that began following the Euromaidan revolution and the start of Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014. Examining the sources and consequences of these identity shifts sheds light on the sources of Ukrainian resistance, the nature of Putin’s miscalculations about Ukraine, and the likely future of post-war Ukraine, Russia, and their relations with each other and with Europe.

A Tale of Two Borders: Lessons from the Differential Enforcement of the Polish-Belarussian and the Polish-Ukrainian Frontiers

Karolina Follis
Lancaster University

This talk discusses the responses of Polish authorities and wider society to two phenomena of human mobility: the arrival of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa on Poland's border with Belarus in 2021-22, and the arrival of Ukrainians fleeing the war on the Polish-Ukrainian border in and after February 2022. The first of these groups encountered hostility, while the latter received a compassionate welcome. I analyze these seemingly disparate responses with reference to the shifting politics of border enforcement in the European Union, arguing that the technocratic model of border control that dominated EU discourse and practices in the early 21st century has now been exhausted.

The EU as a Threat-Responsive Security State

Kaija E. Schilde
Boston University

The EU is a non-unitary security state of international significance and is threat responsive to challenges to its interests. It has become a security state through a combination of incremental institutional layering and shifts in international threat, primarily the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and intervention in Eastern Ukraine, and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The security studies debate on European strategic autonomy has so far ignored and dismissed the infrastructural power of the EU. The EU’s infrastructural power comes from regulatory, monetary and market instruments, and a nascent but increasing direct procurement of military materiel. EU infrastructural power complicates EU-related state formation theory debates. Traditional security states extract resources from their society, directly tax their populations, and have formal authority to generate military capability. Historically, the EU has done none of these things. Scholars using the conventional lens of state security authority have concluded that the EU is not yet a security state, because it does not tax and spend to generate military capacity on its own (Kelemen & McNamara, 2022). However, this misdiagnoses the sources of infrastructural security power in the 21st century, and only compares the political development of the EU to the generation of military power in earlier centuries. Moreover, this position fails to consider the comparative: how do contemporary non-EU states generate military capacity? To what are we comparing EU state formation? I theorize a broader definition of security state to align with 21st Century generation of military power and evaluates the shifts in EU infrastructural power in light of changes in the EU’s threat environment.

Ethnopopulism and Authoritarian Rule in the European Union

Milada Anna Vachudova
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Professor Vachudova will explore how the rise in support for populist parties has shaped party systems in Europe over the last decade, focusing on ethnopopulist parties -- parties that make strong anti-pluralist appeals, vilifying individuals, groups and institutions labeled as culturally harmful. When in power, ethnopopulist parties use these appeals to justify the concentration of power -- and this playbook has helped bring authoritarian rule to Hungary while Poland stands on the brink. She unpacks why ethnopopulism has become a challenge to liberal democracy in Europe, how oppositions have responded -- and why EU member governments have shown such complacency and cynicism in countering it. This has led to the risk of a decoupling of the EU from the regime type of liberal democracy. Yet Russia's war against Ukraine is changing political contestation related to liberal democracy and to relations with Russia in key states including Poland and Germany. Professor Vachudova will close by reflecting on Ukraine's challenge to the European Union -- and whether and how the EU enlargement process can be revived as a tool of EU foreign policy.

EU Migration Governance: Coordination, Collaboration, Subcontracting, and Going Alone

Nicholas R. Micinski
University of Maine

Migration has become an important area of cooperation within the European Union and has faced several recent refugee crises, including people seeking protection from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine. This lecture will discuss the ways in which cooperation within the EU has evolved over the last 20 years, focused on the starkly different responses in 2015-17 and 2022.

The lecture will build on the findings in Micinski's book, Delegating Responsibility: International Cooperation on Migration in the European Union (2022).

Recommended Readings:

21st-Century European Cities: Colonial Modernity, Race and Space

Giovanni Picker
Glasgow University

This talk builds on Giovanni Picker's three books, one monograph (2017) and two co-edited volumes (2018 and 2022), which investigate the ways in which various racial structures shape 21st-Century European cities. In the first part of the talk, Dr. Picker will discuss the historical canon of Social Science research on European cities, and the canon's silence regarding colonialism and race. In the second part of the talk, Dr. Picker will discuss the residential segregation of Romani people (the Roma) in Europe, as an illustration of the importance of looking at race and colonial history when researching contemporary European cities. He will focus on the city of Florence (Italy), where since the mid-1980s hundreds of Yugoslav Romani families have been forced to live in two peripheral urban camps. In conclusion, Dr. Pickler will connect the first and the second part by showing heuristic correspondences between 20th-century urban governance in colonized cities, and the 21st-century urban governance of marginalized and segregated urban Romani communities.

Giovanni Picker is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Glasgow University (UK). His research and teaching centre on Urban Studies and Race Critical Theories. He is the author of Racial Cities: Governance and the Segregation of Romani People in Urban Europe [Routledge 2017], and co-editor of Racialized Labour in Romania: Spaces of Marginality at the Periphery of Global Capitalism [Palgrave 2018, with Enikő Vincze, Norbert Petrovici, and Cristina Raţ] and European Cities: Modernity, Race and Colonialism [Manchester University Press 2022, with Noa K. Ha]. Updates on his work @

Insights into National and European Political Landscape after Presidential Elections in the Czech Republic

Ondřej Horký-Hlucháň
Institute of International Relations Prague, Czech Republic

Senior Researcher at the Centre for Global Political Economy of the Institute of International Relations Prague. He has a PhD in International Economic Relations and a Master’s in International Trade and European Integration from the University of Economics in Prague. Among other positions, he worked as Deputy Director for Research. His professional interests include the governance of global and sustainable development, development cooperation and gender. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), a member of the IIR Board and the president of the IIR’s Trade Union.