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Narratives of Europe, Narratives for Europe

29 March 2019

Professor Axel Freimuth
Rector of the University of Cologne


In 2019, the University of Cologne celebrates the 100th anniversary of its re-foundation. After the ‘old’ university (founded in 1388) had been closed in the 18th century, its re-foundation 1919 was an initiative of the citizens of Cologne. On this occasion, the mayor of Cologne, and future German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer gave a speech in which he defined it as a key mission of the ‘new’ University of Cologne “to show that between all European peoples there is after all much more in common than in separation.”

One hundred years later, I think this special duty is still valid. The continuous responsibility of academic institutions within European integration has recently been highlighted again by French President Macron in his famous speech at the Sorbonne.

Although academic cooperation already is on a very high level in Europe today, and a large number of ERASMUS students are bringing European academic integration to life every year, Brexit and growing nationalism pose a threat towards the European idea.

Therefore, and in light of the elections for the European Parliament, the University of Cologne and the Coimbra Group are organising an unprecedented initiative on views on European Integration within the EU Member States.

In this interactive lecture series, we will bring together speakers from Coimbra Group member universities.  Under the title Narratives of Europe/Narratives for Europe, it will focus on the development of master narratives accompanying and supporting the individual countries’ way into and stance within the European Union.

Within the individual Member States, highly individual constellations of interests, combined with the respective national historical background, have led to very different “master narratives” concerning European integration and the EU. They formed (and still form) the backbone of public debate on the EU and European integration but are seldom made an object of study in their own right.

The lecture series attempts to survey these different narratives across EU Member States, focusing on both differences and common traits, inspired by the hope that an increased awareness of these narratives and expectations increases and improves mutual understanding within the EU.

Each session consists of two presentations about 30 minutes each, followed by a Q&A session based on comments and questions sent in by students from both real and virtual audiences. For each session one lecturer will present ‘live’ in Cologne, while the second lecturer will be connected via Web-Conferencing from his/her home university.

The entire lecture series will be broadcast via the Internet, using the web conferencing tool “Adobe Connect”. Furthermore, the series will be published as a video podcast on the Coimbra Group’s YouTube channel. All lectures will be made available in a Playlist.

I would like to invite all CG member Universities to join and transmit the lectures to a local lecture hall.

Lectures will take place every Tuesday between 1st of April and 12th of July 2019, 6 pm-7:30pm. (Cologne Time: CET +1h).

For any further inquiry, please do not hesitate to contact johannes.mueller@uni-koeln.de or moleiro@coimbra-group.eu.